The wise dog represents nature and instincts found in it.
The man shows no respect toward nature.
The setting of “To Build a Fire” demonstrates just how cruel and unforgiving Mother Nature can be. The man in the story is constantly fighting to push through the weather, barely clinging onto his life. The extreme cold temperatures and snow falling on his fire further prove this point.
The man and dog are not good partners for travel.
The dog represents nature because he is wise and aware of what is going on around him. He has wise instincts on what they should do, having experience from the practices of his ancestors. The dog knew that it was too cold for the man to be out in this weather, and he also knew to keep warm by burying himself in snow. His instincts also provide as a survival tool for him when he notices the sharp change in the difference of the tone of the man. For these reasons, the dog makes it out alive and the man doesn’t.
Going on the journey with someone is necessary.
The man rips bark off of the trees in order to make a fire, damaging the nature around him. He also attempts to kill the dog toward the end of the story as his last resort. Since the dog represents nature, this can also be seen as a way he is harming nature and paying no respect toward it.
The man thinks he is stronger than nature and wrongly thinks he can “beat” it.
The dog has very different ideas and methods for survival than the man does. Often times the dog thinks of the man as foolish for things he does, while the man thinks he is knowledgeable compared to the dog. The man thinks his knowledge will save him, while the dog knows that the man is helpless. They have no real connection with the dog only following the mans commands and nothing more.
The old man warned the man several times that he should travel with someone if he does travel. He didn’t listen to the old man’s advice, and is now on the verge of death. This could have been prevented if there was somebody with him that could’ve helped him with the issues he faced.
The man overestimates his abilities and goes into this extreme weather with overconfidence. He takes advantage of nature and does not ever worry about the conditions it throws at him. In the end, he ends up dying as a result of his overconfidence and underestimation of mother nature.