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Jack London's To Build a Fire-Analysis.

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Jack London's To Build a Fire-Analysis.

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  • October 28, 2003
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In Jack London's To Build a Fire the setting of the short story plays a significant role. Jack London uses specific techniques to establish the atmosphere and tone of the story. By introducing his readers to the setting, London prepares them for a tone that is depressed and fear-provoking. Isolated by an environment of frigid weather and doom, the author shows us how the main character of the story is completely unaware of his surroundings. The only world the man is actually accustomed to is the world he has created for himself. Since many of us have never been exposed to such a harsh climate, London's account that the environment is the determining factor of his survival paints an accurate picture. Anything that the man and his dog come into contact with creates an expectation for disaster in the story.

The significance of the words 'dying and death' in the story continuously expresses the man's dwindling warmth and bad luck in his journey along the Yukon trail to meet his friends at camp. London associates dying with the man's diminishing ability to stay warm in the frigid Alaskan climate. The main characters predicament slowly worsens one level at a time finally resulting in death. London places a strong emphasis on the setting in the introduction to the story. "Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey..." He repeats these phrases to emphase to the reader the impact the setting has on the lives of the characters. The gloominess of the setting causes the man and his dog to fight a constant battle in a world of depression. Lacking the virtue of imagination, the man is only gifted with his practical knowledge. This ignorance will hamper his ability to adapt to the conditions and stresses surrounding him.

Typically the man never wants to deal with reality especially when the reality is unpleasant. "But all this-the mysterious, far-reaching hairline trail, the absence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness of it all- made...