The story of 'To build a fire' depicts this man who visited during the winter. He had never before experienced such cold weather in his state but in his earlier visits his friend of Sulphur Creek had warned that during the winter no man dares walk out. He expeditiously attempts to go against this advice and walk up the creeks to go and be with the boys. He starts his journey along with his dog. The dog though it had no knowledge of things like thermometers, had instincts which are perhaps inherited from it ancestry of the wolves, knows that it is extremely dangerous to walk around during the winter. He however, knows that during the journey he has to build fire to keep warm and also dry his clothes lest they freeze and die on the way. During the journey there are times whereby though he consider those men who do not dare go out as cowards, he sits back and recognizes the dangers. His hands, cheeks, nose were numb and at some point while he is trying to build some fire he tries to grab some twigs and to his surprise he cannot feel that he is holding anything. In fact he has to look at his hands so as to establish that he is actually holding the twigs. The dog all along is quite worried since it could see the man was getting weaker and weaker along the journey.
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The fact that he was now unable to build fire was quite disturbing for the dog. In his frustrations he tries to kill the animal but he is unable since his hands are frozen. This thought came after he remembered the tale of a man who killed a steer and crippled into the carcass and got saved. He felt that by doing do so he would put his freezing hands into the warm dead dog's body and save his hands and be able to build a fire. The thoughts of his friend of Sulphur creek kept on flashing in his mind. His advice replays in his mind. He even visualizes his friend in his own house relaxing warmly and smoking his pipe. At this point he remembers that he was told f he were to walk in such weather he must always have a partner to assist one another. He wakes up and tries the option of running to as to keep his body warm and thaw the ice on his feet. Much as he tries to run up the trail to be with the boys who will take care of him he realizes that he is unfit. He stumbles and falls, and the dog is still coming along but at this point it cannot help. He feels better but the warmth is not enough to help on his freezing nose, hands, cheeks and feet at this point. Each time he fell he sat, takes a few minutes then wakes up to continue. He is now weak and starts thinking about himself dead; however, he does not make these thoughts weigh down on him.
During his journey he takes time and instinctively applies the principle of different state of matter in physics. This principle states that matter exist in three forms which are solid, gases and liquid. The transition of matter from one form to another is seen were as he breaths out the air is quickly frozen through the process known as deposition and lands on his beards and mustache. Even as he builds fire he is also aware that through heating, the ice is going to thaw into liquid through melting and put out his fire. He made sure he carried a birch-bark which he used to build fire on it to avoid the thawing ice from putting out his fire. At this point we see matter in solid form turns into liquid through melting. On the other hand as he breaths out the series of processes can be described as gas turning to liquid through condensation and into solid through freezing and landing on his beards. This process is so fast due to the cold weather such that one might not notice that it is happening since the temperatures are about 107 degrees below zero. In fact the man on running he should have realized that this was producing heat and also apply the same to his hand by rubbing them against each other which would produce heat. This kind of energy is referred to as static fictional energy which produces heat. This could have also saved his hands and be able to build a fire.