What is an example of allusion in "To Build A Fire"?

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The fact that the protagonist is unnamed makes him an "everyman" archetype with whom readers can identify. The many references to Sulphur Creek and the old man who lived there may be allusions to Hell. In the biblical book of Revelations, Hell is described as "the lake that burns with fire and sulfur." The protagonist in "To Build a Fire" doesn't realize until too late that he should have heeded the old-timer's warnings about taking the dangerous path alone, a metaphor for his ill-fated journey. When he successfully strikes a match after twenty fruitless attempts, "the burning smell went up his nose, causing him to cough." And later, in the hour before his death, the protagonist strikes his entire supply of matches at once, and

he kept his head to one side to escape the burning smell, and held the flaming pack to the tree bark. As he so held it, he noticed some feeling in his hand. His flesh was burning. He could smell it. The feeling developed into pain.

It can be said that the unnamed protagonist will not experience salvation and the allusions to Sulphur Creek, flames, and suffering are precursors to the torment that awaits him. Alternatively, it is perhaps Jack London's indirect way of characterizing the harsh and unforgiving climate of the Yukon as a hell on Earth.

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An allusion is "a reference to someone or something that is known from history, literature, religion, politics, science or some other branch of culture," such as mythology.

In Jack London's naturalistic short story, "To Build a Fire," there are at least two allusions:

  1. In paragraph 3, the main character, the "man," is described as being a newcomer to the Yukon territory, a cheechako, which is footnoted in some textbooks as meaning "newcomer" or "tenderfoot" in Chinook jargon. The Chinooks are Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest.
  2. In paragraph 34, the man tries to run on his freezing feet, and as he does so, he feels as though he "skim[s] along above the surface," causing him to wonder if the sensation he feels is like that of the Roman deity, Mercury, of whom he had once seen a picture. When he acted as messenger of the gods and ran with winged feet and hat, Mercury became the patron god of many attributes, one of which, ironically, was luck.
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