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Setting Analysis - To Build a Fire

            In various stories, the setting is crucial and drives the action and behavior presented. Factors such as the time period, place, weather and surroundings can make a significant difference in the success of a story. Specifically, Jack London does an exceptional job of depicting the setting throughout the particular story "To Build a Fire" as if the setting is a character itself. Moreover, in "To Build a Fire," without setting there would be no story initially taking place. Setting is the place and conditions in which something happens or exists. Its' purpose is to allow the reader to visualize the story aside from simply just the words depicted on the paper. Additionally, the environment surrounding creates the ability to add mood and tone, influence the characters and plot, create conflict, tie the theme together, and most importantly elicit feelings in the reader. A well portrayed setting makes a reader feel as if they have been literally placed right into the action of the story- by describing the surroundings so realistic and vividly that the reader can't help but to feel as if they are physically there. In this case, London directs readers towards empathizing with the harsh conditions as if they are are upon the Yukon Trail themselves.
             For instance, the opening line of "To Build a Fire" sets the setting and tone by stating "Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray" (London 127). With this initial description alone, the author attempts to portray a clear image of the circumstances the character is involved in, unraveling an automatic dark and gloomy tone alongside the cold and darkness exposed. Immediately, the reader is directed toward these cheerless feelings by the atmosphere of the story. Ultimately, the unnamed man and his dog companion are traveling in absence of sun along an unfamiliar couple thousand mile long trail- whereas the man being "quick and alert in the things of life, but only in the things, and not in the significance" (London 128), is aware it is very cold yet oblivious to any discerning ideas about the delicacy of his life against his environment.

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