Consider the statement, "The environment (weather and physical setting) is an important character in "To Build a Fire." Show how this is true with reference to the diction, imagery and plot of the story.
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It is the environment also that points to the contrast between the dog and the man. By instinct the dog understands and respects his natural environment. The man, on the other hand, is lacking in this intrinsic comprehension:
But all this--the mysterious, far-reaching hair-line trail, the asence of sun from the sky, the tremendous cold, and the strangeness and weirdness of it all-made no impression on the man. It was not because he was long used to it. He was a newcomer in the land, a cheechako, and this was his first winter. The trouble with him was that he was without imagination.
The weather and setting in "To Build a Fire" serve together as the single antagonist. Our unnamed main character, "the man," has been told by the old timer at Sulphur Creek that he is not to travel in weather that is as cold as that which surrounds him in the story.
At one point, he spits, and the saliva freezes in mid-air before hitting the ground with a crackle. It is the weather and the environment that our protagonist is constantly struggling against in this story. As we read through, we discover that, despite his success in building a fire, his own choices serve to doom him in the frozen tundra, where he dies.
London's word choice, or diction, would not have been the same if the environment had been different. The plot would not have been able to unfold in the way that it did, the imagery of a cold and barren wasteland would have drastically been altered, and overall, the story would probably never have become as popular, had it been set in a desert or wilderness of another type. London made a wise decision in playing upon his own prior knowledge of the frozen Klondike.
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