In the short story “To Build a Fire” written by Jack London, the story utilizes literary devices in order to establish the tone of the story. From the very beginning, the narrator who is a non-participant in the story slips several devices such as the setting and atmosphere, writing style, as well as figurative language. These various devices were used in order to help the reader understand the mood which in turn would also help the reader understand the tone of the story. The story of a lone man walking in such harsh conditions who is attempting to survive, will enhance the mood and tone of the story to allow the reader to fully understand what happened.
London was able to portray a good part of the tone through showing the setting of the story. This was done early on as the whole story relied on man versus nature, “Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray… There was no sun nor hint of sun…” (London, 124). From very early on in the story, the author established how dark and gloomy the days were as this man was traveling alone in very harsh conditions. The reader was able to really feel what the setting was like and the mood the characters had. Even the man’s dog had realized that trouble was in the future, “The animal was depressed the tremendous cold. It knew that there was no time for traveling. Its instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man’s judgment. In reality, it was not merely colder than fifty below zero; it was colder than sixty below, than seventy below. It was seventy-five below zero” (London, 125). Even the dog had felt as though chaos was on the rise and there would be significant consequences unless the man would start to understand the situation instead of just primarily ...
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...tion whether or not he would actually reach that final destination. Later in the story, he mentions how he seems to think that he is an advanced hiker and that people who told him he should take the trip with someone, were wrong. By hearing this, the narrator indicates to the reader that a tragedy was in the making while the man was completely oblivious to this. Dramatic irony had allowed the tone be set by giving insight to the readers and keeping the characters in the story act as they truly would in a situation like that.
Jack London effectively used imagery, setting and dramatic irony to his advantage. He established the tone early on by using these literary devices. London built upon all of his devices to show how dark and gloomy the story was and gave as much insight as he could to properly show what the lone man was feeling throughout his time in the woods.
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