Mya HayesMs. Tatum13 December 2017PreAP English                   Writers come up with creative ideas to influence their readers to feel a specific way. One way is by utilizing dramatic effects and structural techniques. In the story, “To Build A Fire”, the author, Jack London, creates tension and suspense equally in his short story by foreshadowing. Foreshadowing keeps the readers on the edge of their seats as the author shares this adventurous tale about a man versus nature.            Foreshadowing helped create tension in the story and warns the readers something terrible will happen. The title and setting tells the reader that the story takes place in a frosty season. It implies that building a fire might be challenging.

In the beginning, the story gives us an essential insight into the type of condition the man was in. The text states, ” Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero. That there should be anything more to it than that was a thought that never entered his head…”(3). This emphasizes that he was a newcomer and he lacks instinct. His failure to “read the environment” set him up for the odds that were soon to occur. Furthermore, The dropping temperature along with his naivety foretells the upcoming events.

Towards the middle of the story, tension starts to develop. It explains, “that’s was why he had shield in such panic. He had felt the give under his feet and heard the crackle of a snow-hidden ice-skin. And to get his feet wet in such a temperature meant trouble and danger” (6). In this case, he abstains falling into the icy, hidden water.

It would be hazardous for his wellbeing and would require instant setup of fire. This surely foreshadows back to when the old man specifically said not to travel independently.                 Foreshadowing is also incorporated into creating suspense as well as to help create excitement and draw readers to want to continue reading. When he came across an old man he gave him warnings not to go alone. The man refers to the old-timer and expresses, “The old-timer had been serious in laying down the law that no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below” (10).

This shows how he is seen to be arrogant and stubborn to think that he doesn’t need any help. This built up the suspense because readers don’t know if he’s going to survive or not. At the point when nature starts to conflict against his efforts, the text illustrates, “Now the tree under which he had (built his fire) carried a weight of snow on its boughs… High up in the tree one bough capsized its load of snow .

.. It grew like an avalanche, and it descended without warning upon the man and the fire..” (23).

As a result of this, it leaves question regardless of whether he will be able to start another fire. It was getting colder and colder, it would be difficult to start another fire with the numbing of his hands. It leaves many guesses to how will he survive without fire.

           Jack London’s  utilization of foreshadowing was perfect since it built up suspense and tension that lead hints towards the main character’s death. There is no uncertainty in my mind why Jack London was well known and respected by readers. Foreshadowing isn’t the only structural technique that he used successfully.

There are others but this one was used powerfully to get to the heart of the story. The story itself is what makes the works of literature enjoyable.Work CitedLondon, Jack. To Build A Fire . New York: Twayne Publishers, 1999.


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