"To Build a Fire" Analysis

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September 18, 2011

To Build a Fire: An in-depth Analysis

To build a fire is a wonderfully written story draped in imagery. The author describes the story so vividly that it really brings out the setting of the story. The tone is a somber one, and even though it is predictable what will happen the way it is written keeps you interested as to how it happens. Setting and tone are two key elements to this story . Without them the reader is left with a baseless story with no emotion, thereby making it hard to imagine the mood as the story goes on. It would also take away from the meaning which teaches a tale of being prepared for situation that arise. The author Jack London had no problem in this area, making the story an entertaining read. A vast majority of the story is devoted to describing the setting. The author really wanted to give the feel of the surroundings to the reader. The tone was one of simple but blind ignorance of the character. More elaboration should be given two these to elements of this story because they are the very essence of the story. The setting of this story is the Yukon where our author states “It was seventy five below zero. Since the freezing point is thirty-two above zero, it meant one hundred and seven degrees of frost obtained” (London. Pg. 116). The extent of that cold is easily realized by anyone who hears it. One is flabbergasted that the author says the character is aware of the cold but not of the consequences of being in it unprotected. The characters dog unaware of any measurements of cold, has instincts which forewarn him of the danger of this environment. In another analysis of this story Russell Hillier says of the main character “His disdain for the wise counsel that “the old-timer on Sulphur Creek” ) gives him to travel into the northland with a partner is a recurrent reminder to London’s reader of the man’s improvidence, unsociability, and willful...
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