Jack London- "To Build a Fire"

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In many of Jack London’s stories, he displays the constant struggle between man and nature. In the short fiction, “To Build a Fire,” London demonstrates the human race’s inability to listen to nature when needed.

The opening of “To Build a Fire” uses vivid imagery, giving you a strong idea of the cold and harsh weather. “There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not a cloud in the sky.” this sentence alone could set chills to the reader. (London 127-137) The imagery is meant to bring the reader with the main character, make them feel as though they are experiencing his struggles. Although the setting is highly important for the story, it would be lacking without London’s use of imagery. As the audience is reading, they feel an overwhelming sense of empathy for the main character, due to the explicit imagery.

Similar to many of London’s stories, the setting in “To Build a Fire” is cold and bleak. The setting is seen as one of the focal points in the story. The story is specifically set on the Yukon trail in the dead of winter, at its’ coldest. The setting describes vaguely the dangers of the cold and the area that the main character must travel. In London’s attempt to paint a picture for the audience he writes, “The Yukon lay a mile wide and hidden under three feet of ice. On top of this ice were as many feet of snow.” Not only does this paint the picture of the setting, but it also conveys the dangers of nature.

In the short story it is obvious that the man is oblivious to his fate that lies ahead, and he continues to ignore nature’s warnings. The man, after deciding to trudge through the bitter cold with a dog along his side, begins to face difficulties with his surroundings. Some of his first struggles begin early, mostly due to his lack of knowledge and respect for nature. This was the man’s first winter in the land, and he was unconcerned by the cold and the dark. The man intuition lead him to believe the temperature was colder than...
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