Practice Three: Choose one of these short stories and identify its main elements: Plot, setting, characters, main themes, figurative language, style.

Practice Three:

§ Task One: Choose one of these short stories and identify its main elements: Plot, setting, characters, main themes, figurative language, style.

(The analysis should not be copied and pasted from the Net)

1-  The Garden Party – Katherine Mansfield (1922)

2- To Build a Fire- Jack London (1908)

3- The Hunger Artist – Franz Kafka  (1922)

§ Answer:

From the stories listed, I choose the second one “To build a Fire-Jack London (1908)” and its main elements are:

1) Plot:  Jack London’s short story “To build a fire” is a tragic story of a solitary hiker and his dog who depart from the main Yukon trail In northern Canada to be reunited with his traveling companions at the Henderson Camp but ended up falling a victim to the merciless power of nature . While he was on his way , the man falls throught the ice into the water of hot spring and gets his feet wet . Due to extreme weather conditions of the frosty terrain  he was unable to build a fire and rescue himself from the ferocity of nature despite doing his utmost  , he finally could only grows calm and decided to face death with dignity while the wolf-dog survies and goes off to its destination .

2) Setting: It’s set in the Yukon Territory of Northwestern Canada, just east of Alaska during

3) Characters: The only two characters that appear in the story are an unnamed traveler and a husky, a dog closely related to the wild wolf. Reference is made to other people in the area whom the traveler knows, with special mention of an old-timer who offered some advice.

4) Main themes:

a) Humans Versus Nature : Humans treating nature as its masters, who may do as they wish, creates a big misunderstanding. A rational world view, which is shaped by the opinion that the world has a knowable structure beyond the unknown, is not supposed to apply this fact to nature. This assumption of mastery therefore leads to the end of humans. The man is surprised several times by how quickly his hands go numb when he removes his gloves and how his toes go numb as soon as he sits down to eat , he tries to resist the frost, but as “a creature of temperature…able to live within certain narrow limits of heat and cold” ,he is ill-equipped to face it alone. Unlike the dog whose instincts tell it that “it was the time to lie snug in a hole in the snow » and was unwilling to continue the journey in that harsh cold weather ,the man does not believe the cold to be a serious danger. The temperature only strikes him as something cold to endure, not a danger in itself . As a consequence the dog’s instincts serve its survival. Even if it does not know what temperatures are, the dog has an innate understanding that if it remains cold, it will die. On the other hand, the man understands the concept of temperature but does not acknowledge its consequences: “It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty as a creature of temperature, and upon men’s frailty in general » At the end of the story, it is the dog who remains alive, leaving the man’s body behind in the snow. However tragic the man’s death, nature is indifferent to it.

b) The cost of masculinity and pride   : It is the man’s pride that pushed him to start his dangerous journey, prevented him from turning back when he realized how cold it is, and ultimately led to his death.Besides that and although only briefly mentioned, ideas of masculinity play an important role in the story as the man believed that “any man who was a man could travel alone” which is shaped by his internalized understanding of what a man should be capable of .The previous autumn the man was warned by an old-timer not to travel alone at below fifty degrees. Rather than listening to his warning despite being an experienced traveler ,he insist on going on the trip . After soaking his feet he recalls this advice and thinks, “Those old-timers were rather womanish, some of them… Any man who was a man could travel alone.”In calling the old man who tries to warn him “womanish,” the protagonist demonstrates a belief that relying on others for help, even in extreme conditions, is unmasculine  . It is because of this belief that the man failed to take so many of the dangers he faced seriously.A few hours into his trip, when he could easily turn back, he realized it is even colder than fifty below. “But the temperature did not matter” Obviously, the temperature matters a great deal. His overconfidence blinded him to the danger it represents. A little earlier the narrator states of the extreme cold , “It did not lead him to meditate upon his frailty.” Pride warpt his perception of his strength, so he felt equal to that harsh environment. In contrast, the husky’s instinct was not unclouded by pride even with its natural protection from the elements and superior foot speed, the husky knew they shouldn’t be traveling.

5) Figurative language :

On our Figurative language we can define 04 types of elements Onomatopia, Simile, Personification, Tone

6) Summary: On our Figurative language we can define 04 types of elements Onomatopia, Simile, Personification, Tone

a) Onomatopoeia : There was a sharp explosive crackle that startled him

b) Simile : the thick german socks were like sheats of iron.

c) Personification : behaviors.Fire doesn’t dance but people can

d) Tone : The tone of the story was suspense

7) Style : The style of “To Build a Fire” is typical of Naturalist literature, which tends to be highly objective and observational. London’s diction is direct and straightforward throughout—he usually “tells” rather than “shows,” making his rare usage of descriptive or figurative language more impactful. One element of style which characterizes ‘‘To Build a Fire’’ is repetition. Certain words and actions are repeated in the story to emphasize the intense coldness of the weather and the seriousness of the man’s plight. The word ‘‘cold’’ itself recurs frequently, beginning with the opening sentence: ‘‘Day had broken cold and gray, exceedingly cold and gray . . . ,’’ and ending with a mention of the ‘‘cold sky’’ in the story’s final paragraph. Elsewhere the man continually expresses his surprise at the coldness of the weather. The repetition of other words and actions also contributes to the sense of bitter coldness: for example, each time that the man removes his mittens, his fingers instantly go numb, and he has to struggle to warm them up, ‘‘threshing his arms back and forth’’ to regain feeling. The old-timer’s advice against traveling alone is frequently repeated, adding a sense of foreboding to the story. Even more ominous is the use of the phrase ‘‘it happened’’ to introduce the two disasters— first when the man breaks through
the ice, and next when his fire is extinguished. Literary critics have noted that the cumulative effect of such repetition is to make the man’s death by freezing seem inevitable.

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