To Build a Fire by Jack London

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What are the metaphors and similes in "To Build a Fire"?

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Lorna Stowers eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While Jack London's "To Build a Fire" is not filled with similes and metaphors (more personifications exist), one can find a few instances.

Metaphors:

It meant life, and it must not cease.

Here, the metaphor exists in the reference to "it." "It" is being referred to as the fire, although one could see that the man is also comparing the fire to life. Although one is directly dependent upon the other, the man does not want either to "not cease": neither life nor the fire.

The fire provider had failed.

Here, the metaphor exists in the comparison of the fire provider to a few possible things. First, it could be the man. He provides material to build up the fire, Second, it could be the twigs he places into the fire. They are needed to catch fire to keep it burning. Lastly, although this is a bit of a stretch, it could be Nature itself. Given that London was a Naturalistic writer, he could be referencing Nature (personified) as the fire provider.

Similes:

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