Likewise, London maintains an air of neutrality with his prose, objective and reportorial. He focuses mostly on the narrative and little on the man's interior world and history--indeed, we never even know the man's (or the dog's) name. He is less an individual and more a representative of all humanity, especially humanity up against nature. Also in keeping with the naturalist tradition, the man is obviously not a member of the upper class. Like "the boys," he hopes to strike it rich by prospecting for gold, as did many during the Yukon Gold Rush in the late 19th-century, or even by selling logs.
" To Build a Fire " is a prime example of the literary movement of naturalism. Naturalism was an offshoot of Charles Darwin's and Herbert Spencer's theories on evolution. In his monumental 1859 work Origin of the Species, Darwin theorized that environments alter the biology and behavior of organisms; the organisms whose traits promote survival reproduce more successfully and adapt new, more efficient traits. Spencer applied Darwin's ideas to the human environment, and Social Darwinism became one of the dominant philosophies in the late 19th century.
Using a resource means dispersing it. When we quarry limestone and send it off to build public monuments, or when we mine coal and burn it to drive turbines, we are making use of a concentrated resource, and dispersing it. A large, continuous mass of limestone winds up as a number of discrete blocks spread around in different locations; and coal, after briefly giving off heat and light, becomes a small amount of ash and a large amount of gas. Resources may be temporarily accumulated in a stockpile, but their actual use always results in dispersal.