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The Importance Of Setting In Jack London's To Build A Fire

1561 words - 6 pages

The Importance of Setting in Jack London's To Build A Fire

 
    In "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, the setting plays a

significant role throughout the entire short story.  Jack London uses

certain techniques to establish the atmosphere of the story.  By

introducing his readers to the setting, prepares them for a tone that is

depressed and  frightening.    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 truly

accustomed to, is his own.  Never being exposed to such a harsh climate,

draws us to the conclusion that the environment is the determining factor

of his survival, as well as his dog's too.  Anything that the man and his

dog comes into contact with, creates an anticipation for disaster in the

story.

 

      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 redefine to his readers the impact the setting

has on the lives of the characters.  The gloominess of the setting instills

feelings in the man and the dog, of a constant battle with this world of

depression they are in.  Being given no sense of imagination, the man is

only gifted with his practical knowledge.   He therefore is shown to lack

the experience and thought to adapt to the conditions encompassing him.

 

      Typically, man never wants to deal with the reality, especially

when it 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 no impression on the man."  Blocking out the

bothersome temperatures and climate he is surrounded by, he never really

attempts to face this personal monster of his.  What he would do if the

inevitable happened to him, is his personal monster.   This situation

causes the man to become selfish, only focusing on his present actions and

thoughts.  The man's ignorance to his surroundings foreshadows a possible

downfall.

 

      London provides us with subconscious hints in his writing, that

lead his readers to believe that the man will suffer a tragedy in the end

of the story.   "Its instinct told a truer tale than was told to the man by

the man's judgment."  Having only the knowledge of his previous experiences,

 the man is at a disadvantage to the dog.    The dog by nature, is an

animal that has an innate gift of instinct.  The setting placed in this

type of habitat, is the main conflict of the story.  Under the cold

conditions, the dog has the ability to survive because it has always known

how.   Only using his judgment, the man can't understand how to prevent a

disaster from occurring.  London...

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