Suspense In Jack London's To Build A Fire

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The short story of a man wandering across the Yukon Territory in midwinter creates a multitude of feelings in the reader. However, no feeling is stronger than the suspense about the survival of the main character. The man sets out alone to cross the Yukon Territory alone, despite warnings about the dangers of doing so. These dangers as told to us through through the eyes of a narrator develop the anticipation that keeps the story entertaining. Jack London’s effective use of basic literary techniques such as narration and conflict in the short story “To Build a Fire” is successful in keeping the reader involved throughout the story.

Jack London’s use of third person narration in telling the story allows the reader to be privy to information surrounding the unnamed man of which he is unaware. In using third person, London builds anxiety by foreshadowing the dangerous events that are about to happen to the man. In the story, after falling into an ice-cold stream, the man builds his new fire under a tree. As he begins to pull the branches from the tree above his fire, other snow-covered branches begin to shake (12). The reader, knowing about something that the man does not, builds suspense as they
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The narrator describes the Yukon Territory as 75-degrees below freezing and being a highly treacherous for anyone to travel alone (2). By introducing this hostile environment, London creates tension in the reader as they begin to question the man’s safety in the freezing cold temperatures, After the man falls into the river and starts to freeze to death, he builds a fire in order to survive. As the fire grows and the warmth spreads, the snow on a tree falls, knocking out his fire. Through struggles such as this one, suspense is created due to the severity of the danger the man faces and the risks involved in the
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