Literary Devices in To Build a Fire
London introduces the dog to act as a foil to the main character, that is, the dog has key differences that contrast sharply with the man, such as its physical features and its instinct. By showing how the dog reacts to events in the story, London further highlights the man’s inexperience and the seriousness of his situation.
Note how London uses repetition throughout the story. By repeating certain words and actions, such as the cold and the numbness he later feels, London emphasizes not only the intense coldness of the setting but also the danger the man is in.
In the original version of “To Build A Fire,” published in 1902, the protagonist is called Tom Vincent. London later revised the story, deepening his descriptions of the setting and the character while removing his name. In this second version, published in 1908, the protagonist remains unnamed throughout the story.