ISC Echoes To build a Fire question and Answers: Use of Foreshadowing in the story’


To Build a Fire : by Jack London

Question: Discuss the use of foreshadowing in the short story ‘ ‘To Build a Fire’ .

Answer: Foreshadowing is an important literary device often used in mystery novel or story. It is an advance sign or warning of what is to come in the future. The author usually use foreshadowing in the early part of the story to give the readers an inkling of some impending disaster.

    Jack London has tactfully used the foreshadowing in the story ‘To Build a Fire’ .

      The author has made it clear in the beginning that the man was  “a chechaquo”, a newcomer in the land and this was his first winter. Now the author foreshadows that ” the trouble with him was that he was without imagination .”

     Here, author tries to make the readers sense that the man’s being a newcomer will be going to create a trouble for his journey.  The author also says –
” Fifty degrees below zero was to him just precisely fifty degrees below zero.” 

       This line hints to the reader that the man’s lack of concern will be problematic for him.

     The man is not only inexperienced but also he could not imagine the dangers associated with the cold weather in Klondike region. For him the cold was a mere inconvenience and could be easily taken care of by the use of mittens, ear flaps, warm moccasins and thick socks. But he did not concern that the man can only live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold.

     The man didnot pay any heed to the old timer’s advice that “no man must travel alone in the Klondike after fifty below.” 

      This advice from an old timer, which the man recalls several times, also foreshadows the man’s missteps. Despite the old timer’s warning the man started to travel alone and ended his journey to freezing to death.

    The author also hint to the reader through the dog’s instinct. The dog accompanied the man was a creature of instinct , it was a native husky wolf dog , more closer to the nature than the man himself.  The dog could sense the terrible danger they were in. The narrator in the very beginning writes for the dog, that ” It’s instinct told it a truer tale than was told to the man by the man’s judgement. “

     This foreshadows that something ominous will soon follow. Thus in the end we see that the man’s rationale and judgement failed him but the dog survived. 

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top