In To Build a Fire, Jack London uses many details of setting to illustratethe gravity of the protagonists situation. The story is a detaileddescription of the dangers of intense cold and the stages involved in theprocess of freezing to death. The man in to build a fire is a verydogmatic and arrogant person who believed in his own abilities and tookeverything at face value. He didnt analyze and scrutinize over every detail.
He definitely wasnt one to philosophize and his conceptions were rooted inthe tangible not the surreal. At the end, though, he realizes his owndeficiencies and finally dies. The magnitude of the mans situation is fullyillustrated and established through Londons descriptions of the landscape,snow, ice, and intense cold. The height of Londons graphic portrayal is thestorys explicit description of the intense cold of the arctic winter that theman is travelling through. The sharp, explosive crackle(pg.Order now
119 para. 2)that occurred in the air before the mans spit could even hit the snow is justan example of the vicious cold that the man was travelling through. The frozenmoisture of the mans breathing that forms ice on his beard and mustache. Thecrystal beard of the color and solidity of amber(pg. 120 para.
1) thattranspires when the man chews tobacco and the speed in which the mansappendages become numb and unusable are further examples of Londons accountof the cold. The journey through the unbroken white north and south, as faras the eye could see (paragraph 2) was another striking account of thewonderful use of setting in this story. Without a doubt, the concept of a worldof ice is a major factor in the greatness of this story undermined only byLondons graphic depiction of the mans death. This is depicted in greatdetail throughout the latter part of the story.
The terrain of the Yukon, to theman, is just an obstacle that could easily be overcome with knowledge of yoursurroundings and a pragmatic attitude, but in truth it is the executioner of theman. The anxiety of falling in the water, the relief when the fire is built, andthe shock when it is put out are all situations that build to the tension of thestory. The panic when he is unable to build a second fire and the conclusionthat is bound to happen are more thoroughly realized when the man is unable toeven light a match. The wild rush through the snow and the idea to kill his dogto use its body as warmth are further graphic details of the break down of theman. The innovation of meeting death with dignity(pg.
128 para. 3) is thefinal stage to the mans realization that he was to die. The idea to sleepoff to death(pg. 128 para. 3) and the statement, Freezing was not so bad aspeople thought. There were lots worse ways to die.
is an additional steptowards the conclusion we had all suspected when the fire was put out. Thesetting is further developed by these accounts and the harshness of the Arcticwinters are even more realized. Thus, Londons setting within the unfeelingYukon is both descriptive and arousing. The major action takes place after thefire is put out, leading to the climax of the story when the man begins hisrealization that death had found him. In this way, London uses setting to showthe extent of the mans situation and the death that will surely follow if youunderestimate it.
The events of the story, the unrelenting cold, and the mansfinal death are all tied together by Londons expert control of setting.English Essays .