It certainly was cold, was his thought. Each time he pulled a twig, he had slightly agitated the tree until, at this point, a bough high up had capsized its load of snow. Each time he had pulled a twig he had communicated a slight agitation to the tree—an imperceptible agitation, so far as he was concerned, but an agitation sufficient to bring about the disaster. This small flame means life and he carefully adds grasses and wood pieces. He knew the bark was there, and, though he could not feel it with his fingers, he could hear its crisp rustling as he fumbled for it. So long as he walked four miles an hour, he pumped that blood, willy-nilly, to the surface; but now it ebbed away and sank down into the recesses of his body.
But the tremendous cold had already driven the life out of his fingers. The dog was still watching him. He has taken an alternate route to examine the possibility of getting out logs in the spring from the islands in the Yukon. Then his fingers are so frozen he can't grip the matches so he uses his teeth and then just holds them with his palms, since he's frozen he doesn't feel the matches burning his skin. Neither man nor dog considers the life of the other. As they follow the course of a frozen creek, the man is careful to avoid patches of thin ice, hidden by the snow, that cover pockets of unfrozen water.
He was quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significances. He caught the whole bunch between the heels of his hands. Then he reaches for his knife to cut the strings. And all the time, in his consciousness, was the knowledge that each instant his feet were freezing. He had hoped to get into camp with the boys at six o'clock, and this would delay him an hour, for he would have to build a fire and dry out his foot gear. The dead fingers could neither touch nor clutch. A foot of snow had fallen since the last sled had passed over, and he was glad he was without a sled, travelling light.
He puts on his mittens and beats his hands. When he fell down a second time, it curled its tail over its forefeet and sat in front of him, facing him, curiously eager and intent. GradeSaver, 1 July 2002 Web. For the next half hour, the man does not observe any signs of water under the snow. He spoke to the dog, calling it to him; but in his voice was a strange note of fear that frightened the animal, who had never known the man to speak in such way before. Even if he succeeded, he would most likely lose some toes.
He was used to the lack of sun. He could not pick and choose, for he had to lift the fuel between the heels of his hands. And while I was bored in the beginning, that quickly changed to where I was quite concerned. In fact, he carried nothing but the lunch wrapped in the handkerchief. Create a fire plough for a makeshift fire starter.
But all this--the mysterious, far-reaching hairline trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all--made no impression on the man. The man took a chew of tobacco and proceeded to start a new amber beard. When he tried to rise, he failed. Again, processes are important: he does not make any mental processes, taking facts and assigning them increasing significance. Anyway, getting back to the story, the protagonist walks on the frozen river. Well, he decided, he might as well take it like a man. He was a newcomer in the land, a chechaquo, and this was his first winter.
After a while, he became aware that he could smell his hands burning. A dog walked behind the man. He calls the dog, but his voice reveals his fear and his intentions. It was the time to lie snug in a hole in the snow and wait for a curtain of cloud to be drawn across the face of outer space from whence this cold came. The dog joined in behind and kept up with him. In his effort to separate one match from the others, the whole bunch fell in the snow. Jack London married twice: first, Bessie Maddern in 1900, although the pair divorced in 1904.
The dog warms itself near the fire. He began laying dry grasses and the tiniest twigs on the flame. He feels his lunch of biscuits inside his jacket, warming against his skin. He did this sitting down, and he stood up to do it; and all the while the dog sat in the snow, its wolf-brush of a tail curled around warmly over its forefeet, its sharp wolf-ears pricked forward intently as it watched the man. Maybe running would make his feet warm.
There was the fire, snapping and crackling and promising life with every dancing flame. There was no mistake about it, it was cold. In the dark of our tent we picked up a radio station that played old radio shows, and that night the story was. Lots of thematic substance about naturalism, the fate of man, etc. Freezing is not too bad, he thinks.