How Setting Affects the Plot essay

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The two books: “How to build a fire” by Jack London and “The chrysanthemums” by John Steinbeck have different plots and their settings are also different. In the book, Building the fire by Jack London has been set in the cool valley of Yukon. The place is a wilderness where the man is almost freezing by cold; he eventually meets a dog which accompanies him in the merciless wild area. However, the nature of this wild cold place plays a hidden role that is, it acts as a warning to the man; the more he walked into the cold and wild area the more it became colder and the more he felt the harshness of the wild area. As a result the man remembered the old advice on fire. He lit a fire to at least warm himself (London 122-23);   the dog also chooses to warm itself beside the fire. The fire was not enough, they decided to leave that place (the man and the dog) although the dog was safer and adopted to the kind of life or rather nature as opposed to man, and as a result of not responding to nature, the man freezes alone and dies in the snow. This setting helps to show how nature cannot be controlled by men. It gives the true picture of nature and its impact on man.

The chrysanthemum by John Steinbeck is set in the Salinas valley. It revolves around a desperate and lonely woman called Elisa; even though she is married her husband is always busy doing his business and sometimes looking after the cattle at the range as a result of her husband’s commitment to business, Elisa finds herself desperate therefore her only comfort is to keep herself busy as a gardener. As a married woman she finds no joy and happiness in marriage thus she is always lonely and desperate. This therefore shows the superiority of men in the society and brings out the character of Elisa as representative of women who are hard working and kind hearted. It also brings out the theme of feminism which moves on the book based on feminism principles.

The setting of both stories plays vital roles in the development of plots. In each story, for instance, the story of Jack London is set in the cold and hostile wilderness of Yukon“…the man is observant as he moves through the treacherous terrain of the Yukon...” The most important theme is the existential theme thus due to the setting of this story, the plot is positively affected.  This implies that the inclusion of title, How to build a fire was to clearly elaborate to the reader that he would meet a very wild and cold place.  Therefore, this is meant to show how nature is so uncertain and cruel. On the other hand the setting of the book The chrysanthemum by John Steinbeck has its setting in the valley of Salinas which is fertile and can support agriculture  (Thompson 2).  Therefore, Elias if portrayed as a hard working woman on the farm, even though she is married she finds it had to be happy in the marriage. This point develops the plot of the story and the main idea of the writer; thus it clearly shows the state of women in the society. The society portrays women as kind and hardworking but the nature of men is superior. A part from her hard working nature, she strives to clean her home “… it was a hard –swept looking little house with hard-polished windows and a clean mad-mat on the front step…”. This clearly shows how she was a hard working woman and the portrayal of women generally. This thus builds on the argument about the role of women in the society. 

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