Discuss the importance of setting in "To Build A Fire," byJack London

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

As many of London's stories are, the setting of the Arctic or a similarly harsh place in nature is vital to the story "To Build A Fire."  The scene is set mostly by the setting, in particular the brutal cold that lies beneath the stark beauty of the trail as the man leaves town.  The juxtaposition of the brooding underside of the bright sunshine and brilliant white and the overt confidence of the man as he walks is a powerful beginning to a story that will end with the ugly side of nature rearing her head while the man's confidence retreats and dies.

The way that the dog understands how to survive in this type of biting cold and the way it also contrasts with the man's stupid mistakes and repeated blunders is only magnified or only made possible by the nature of the setting itself.