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Compare and Contrast Essay on Survival in the Wilderness: Instinct Vs. Intelligence

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To survive in the wilderness, you must know the difference between instinct and intelligence. The story ‘To Build a Fire’, shows the difference of how the dog’s instinct and the man’s intelligence affected the outcome of their survival. Both the dog and the man had different reactions to certain experiences. The man would only use his brain and would apply his knowledge to tasks, but the dog just has natural reactions and an intuitive way of thinking. In this story, it is proven that instinct is far more important than intelligence to survive.

The man was focused on meeting his buddies at the camp on Henderson Creek. The man was very observant and applied his skills to situations. The dog would have natural instincts and would follow them. The difference between the two is that instinct is your natural reaction or gut feeling, and intelligence is applying your knowledge or skills to a situation. While both are important for survival, instinct was shown to be far more important in this story. Towards the end of the story, the man was trying to kill the dog in order to warm himself, but the dog felt that there was something wrong and ran away from the man before he was killed. The dog survived because he trusted his gut instinct, which is something that the man does not do. The man was using his skills and what he remembered so he could warm himself, but it did not end up working out because the dog was smarter than him and followed his instincts.

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This story reflects naturalism by showing how dangerous and violent nature can be. It reflected and showed the events of day-to-day life. This story exemplifies the idea of naturalism by showing how if a person is not careful and mindful of their surroundings, nature will kill them. This was shown by the man not caring about his hands freezing up and thinking that it's not important. The author granted the idea of Darwinism and the survival of the fittest, which is saying that if you are not smart and use your instincts, you will not survive. At the end of the story the man dies of hypothermia, and the dog survives.

Overall, Jack London’s story showed that instinct seems to be more important than intelligence when it comes to survival. The dog would trust their instincts and follow them, while the man applied his skills and intelligence to situations. The man not listening to his instincts and only thinking about getting to the camp caused him to die.

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Compare and Contrast Essay on Survival in the Wilderness: Instinct Vs. Intelligence. (2023, September 19). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Compare and Contrast Essay on Survival in the Wilderness: Instinct Vs. Intelligence.” Edubirdie, 19 Sept. 2023,
Compare and Contrast Essay on Survival in the Wilderness: Instinct Vs. Intelligence. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
Compare and Contrast Essay on Survival in the Wilderness: Instinct Vs. Intelligence [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2023 Sept 19 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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