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To Build a Fire Essay | Critical Essay #4

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Critical Essay #4

Repetition establishes a compelling pattern in London's Arctic for reasons that are neither simple nor straightforward. Most obviously, however, its effect is entropic, reducing the man to the purely physical by depriving him initially of a will, then of desires, and at last of life itself. The process of repetition, moreover, again first appears at a verbal level—and notably with the word most often repeated. "Cold" occurs in the first half of this short story more than twenty-five times, with an effect that is altogether predictable. For as the narrative's focus on the physically immediate contributes to a paralyzing "tyranny of things," so the repetition of a thermal absence gradually seems to lower the textual temperature. Or rather, it is the emphasis on intense cold—no more, after all, than molecular inactivity—that exposes an irreducible corporeality to the very air itself.

The "tyranny...

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This section contains 2,081 words
(approx. 7 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our To Build a Fire Study Guide
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To Build a Fire from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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