To Build A Fire Essay Word Ok Copy

Submitted By bossman007
Words: 818
Pages: 4

Dalton Chase Reed
Dr. Easton
English 1102
6 March 2014
TITLE GOES HERE X. J. Kennedy and Dana Gioia define setting as being “its [a story’s] time and place” (120). However, in Jack London’s To Build a Fire the setting is so much more. In To Build a Fire the setting acts as the main character’s number one enemy throughout the course of the short story. Kennedy and Gioia later expand their definition by saying: “in an effective short story, setting my figure as more than mer background or underpinning. It can make things happen” (120). And in To Build a Fire the setting definitely does make things happen. While most would assume that the man is all alone during the course of his trek; he is not. The cold, grey, and desolate Yukon stands unforgiving. Waiting to snatch up the next victim who, in their ignorance, dares to wander into it ill-prepared. Before the narrator even introduces the character of the man he first vividly paints a description of the setting into the reader’s mind. The Yukon is described as being: “cold and grey, exceeding cold and grey …. There was no sun nor no hint of sun” (London 127). The atmosphere written about is not one the weak can survive in. All these descriptive phrases are used just in the opening paragraph. Even when the character of the man is introduced later in the story no descriptive details are given about him. The reader knows little about his life. In fact the reader is never even given the man’s name; he is only known as the man. The reader only knows that he currently lives and works in the Yukon. In a way the reader is never made to truly care for the man. This causes the setting of the story to rise up as the true main antagonist of the story. While the man becomes just another insignificant traveler who fights, and eventually loses, the never ending struggle with nature. Once presented as the main antagonist of the story an interesting theme arrises: man versus nature. Without the setting being what it is this theme would have no place in the story. Throughout the course of the story the man is actively fighting a battle against the Yukon. From dodging the “traps” of hidden pools of water (130) to “blindly” running from the actual threat of death the cold brings (125) the man is involved with a quarrel that one very seldom wins. The fight with nature can be won; however, one must be respectful and observant of this powerful force an example being the Old Man from Suphur Creek. The old man tries to bestow his wisdom on the man but in his ignorance the man does not listen. The man’s ignorance to the setting further hastens his demise. The first actual description given to the reader about the man states that he really did not care what the weather was claiming: “the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all — made no impression on the man” (128). Had the man been more prepared and aware of his surroundings he might have lived. When he builds a fire to thaw out his extremities