Imagine what would have been the ending of the poem The Cold Within by James Patrick Kinney, had one of the ‘six humans’ given his log to the dying fire.
In James Patrick Kinney’s poetic parable “The Cold Within”, the poet has shown through a simple story how discriminatory attitude can lead to the doom of humankind. There gathered six people with different identities — two with different colors, two with different religious faith, and two with different social classes. That is why they were prejudiced against one another and let their selfishness, prejudice, malice and suspicions to dictate their actions. Though they badly needed to share their logs to keep the fire burning in order to keep themselves warm and alive in the freezing night, none of them were prepared to do that. In the end they were found frozen to death, each clutching the log in their hands.
Now, people wonder what would have happened if one of them, for example the black man, had shared his log to keep the fire burning. Probably the white man would have a feeling of regret that he had ill-feelings against the black man who is now helping save his life. So, he would go and hug that black man and befriend him. He would also offer his own log of wood to celebrate their friendship. And seeing the union of the Black and White, the others — the poor and the rich, and the two with separate religions would also make friends, thus forming a united group of six in the spirit of fraternity. They would all share their logs to keep the fire burning, symbolic enough of their own warm human spirits that would have helped them to live and let live — to live together.
And if it so happened, the ending of the poem would have been something like
Their logs kept them from death’s still hands
Was proof of human heart.
They did not live by the warm without
The warm within I assert.
If the black man would have given his log of wood (symbol of sin) the woman in the poem who was a racist must have realised her mistake and the people at that time who thought that black people are inferior, must have changed their view about the inferior heart of the black people and have also given up their prejudices for good and must have started having a warmth inside their cold hearts.
If the black man would have given his log and said “let me contribute to saving our lives” than be stuck with his obstinate ego, the others too would also have thought ‘better to live than die due to foolish discrimination’. It would turn the story around on a positive note.
If the black man would have given his log to sustain the fire, it could have happened that the five other people would feel guilty for their act of discriminations and also gave theirs and the end wouldn’t be so tragic. Instead, it would be a happy end where all lived and became friends of each other.