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Foreshadowing in To Build a Fire

Foreshadowing Examples in To Build a Fire:

To Build a Fire

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"But before he could cut the strings, it happened...."   (To Build a Fire)

London structures this paragraph to create an atmosphere of suspense. By foreshadowing a mysterious event in the first sentence, the rest of the paragraph takes on a tension.

"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...."   (To Build a Fire)

The protagonist’s lack of instinct here is exemplary of one of the story’s primary themes: man versus nature. The man’s inability to properly read his environment sets him at odds with it. The dropping temperature, along with his naivety, foreshadows events to come.

"an intangible pall..."   (To Build a Fire)

London uses “pall” in both senses of the word. On one level, we see the stark lighting that falls across the landscape. On another level, London evokes the image of a funereal pall, a piece of cloth lain upon a coffin, thus offering connotations and foreshadowings of death. There is also a subtle rhyme between the final syllable of “intangible” and “pall,” with a consonance between b and p.

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