What mood is created by the description of the setting in "To Build a Fire?"

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Jack London creates a mood of desolation and foreboding as he describes the setting in “To Build a Fire.” First, he describes the Yukon morning as being sunless with no “promise of sun.” London describes the depth of the snow and ice, and the white sameness of the landscape for miles and miles. He then goes on to say that the cold is unrelenting, falling to 75 degrees below zero. This foreboding situation does not seem to affect the man who has little inkling of what could happen to him. The reader anticipates the consequences of traveling outside on such a day. The man follows the Yukon trail calculating the time it will take to get to the cabin where he will meet his comrades. The setting is desolate but the man with little understanding of what could happen to him carries on with his travel. It is not until he steps in spring water and begins to freeze that his mood changes to desperation. He cannot light his fire and he realizes that he cannot outrun the cold and snow to keep himself alive.