How does the author, Jack London, begin building suspense in the short story "To Build A Fire"?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The setting plays a big part in building the initial suspense of this story. Readers are told that the setting is the frigid wasteland of the Yukon. This is one of the harshest landscapes on the planet, so setting the story here easily heightens reader awareness of potential threats to the man that could be life threatening. The initial suspense is also heightened by placing the setting at night. The man is far enough north where he actually won't get daylight at this time of year.  

However, there seemed to be an indescribable darkness over the face of things. That was because the sun was absent from the sky. This fact did not worry the man. He was not alarmed by the lack of sun. It had been days since he had seen the sun.

Darkness makes everything more foreboding; it's why kids are afraid of the dark and like sleeping with a nightlight on. Dangerous and foreign things lurk about at night, and the man is in a place where it's been dark for days.  

A third thing that adds to the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 761 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team