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Explication Of The First Paragraph Of Jack London's "To Build A Fire"

965 words - 4 pages

To Build a FireThe first line of Jack London's "To Build a Fire" states, "Day had broken cold and grey, exceedingly cold and grey..." London repeats the words "cold and grey" to emphasis the environment that the man finds himself in. It is cold, twenty-five degrees colder than the man thinks that it is, he is in a temperature that is seventy-five degrees below zero. Extremely cold and forbidding, the grey casts a pall over the man, enveloping him and his dog. That the man pays no attention to the coldness reveals to the reader that the man is oblivious to the cold or that he can handle the elements or out of his element. However the man continues with the task at hand, to meet the others at the camp before nightfall. The first line continues, "the man turned aside from the main Yukon trail and climbed the high earth-bank, where a dim and little traveled trail led eastward..." London lets us know that the man is choosing a trail that is lightly traveled, where the light is dim, foreshadow that the man is taking steps to his eventual demise, a place were light is not prevailing. Not many men travel through here and we learn later in the story that experienced men almost never travel alone in this weather. The man is leaving the safety and security of a better worn and traversed trail to one that is isolated, dreary, and dangerous.In lines four and five London writes "There was no sun nor hint of sun, though there was not cloud in the sky. It was a clear day, and yet there seemed an intangible pall over the face of things..." The absence of the sun, gives the reader the hint that there is something amiss, terribly unusual in the environment, the man is far up north, were the man is clearly out of his element. The man can not even see a hint of the sun even though there is not a cloud in the sky. The sun is far enough below the horizon so the sky is a deathly grey, presenting the reader with ironic weather condition, no sun, no clouds, and although it is day time, there is "no hint of the sun." London relates the sky as casting "an intangible pall" over the nameless man, clearly presents a foreboding picture that no good can seem to come out of it. That it is intangible does it refer that the man cannot feel it or perceive it? It is there because London tells us, but I believe even if the man could see and sense it, he would ignore it as he does all other warning signals that nature has laid out in plain view. In line six London tells us the main problem that the man is infused with, is that although he sees what he is faced with, that he pay no attention to the...

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