Foreshadowing in To Build a Fire

Foreshadowing in To Build a Fire

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Foreshadowing in To Build a Fire


In the story "To Build a Fire" by Jack London, foreshadowing is often used. In this story foreshadowing is an effective way to build up a climax. The foreshadowing is both shown by the environment and things the characters say.


An example of environmental foreshadowing was when it said, "Fifty degrees below zero stood for a bite of frost that hurt and that must be guarded against.... "Another example was when the man's "fire was blotted out." These examples show that the cold will be the man's doom, but foreshadow only by telling the necessary details.


A major point of foreshadowing was what the oldtimer told the man. The oldtimer told the man that "no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below." If the man would have listened, he could have survived. Because he didn't listen; he lost his life.


In conclusion, if you read this story carefully you will pick up the small hints and know the outcome of the story. This also shows that foreshadowing can be direct statements or simple statements of fact.


Self Confidence


Once a man's self confidence is shaken, it becomes increasingly difficult to act rationally.


If you are in a life or death situation, every decision you make stacks the odds either for or against you. Once you make a few bad decisions, you realize that your chances for survival are getting slimmer and slimmer. As this fact settles into your conscious mind, it produces panic. Panic is what happens when the brain can't handle the information it is given. Panic takes over rationality, and as a result, you do and say things that are uncharacteristic of you. Panic destroys your self confidence.


In Jack London's short story "To Build a Fire" the reader watches a man's mental condition go from high to devastatingly low. At the first of the story, he is very self confident in his own abilities. This is evident by the way he keeps saying the he will be in camp by six.


Also, when one suddenly becomes physically handicapped, and abilities that he depends on and previously took for granted are not available to him, he tends to act very insecurely and unstably.

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The man's irrationality developed when the snow fell from the tree and put out his fire. It was as though he had just heard his own death sentence. He couldn't move his fingers to strike the match, and he couldn't feel things. About this time he started running around, panicked, "like a chicken with its head cut off," obviously not a very rational move.


Once a man's self-confidence is shaken, it becomes increasingly difficult for him to act rationally. Nature destroys the weak and unwise by affecting the physical and mental stableness of the victim. Only the strong survive and only the wise prosper.

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