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T h e S to ry o f a n
Eye w it n ess E ssa y
A naly sis
Essay T opic: Analysis ( , Essay
In The Story of an Eyewitness, journalist Jack London gives
readers a vivid first-person account of the terrible aftermath
of the 1906 earthquake in San Fr ancisco.
originally appeared in Colliers Weekly, May 5, 1906. As a
reporter, London uses his writing experience to illustr ate
the devastation he witnesses by using similes, metaphors,
irony, and personification. His incredible descriptions
transport the reader right into the burning streets.
The story begins with the earthquake destroying many
buildings and causing hundreds of thousands of dollars of
damage. However, London expresses emphases on the fire
that caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
uses a metaphor to describe what he saw, San Fr anciscos
burning was a lurid tower visible a hundred miles away.
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Next, he uses personification to illustr ate his picture, and
for three days and nights this lurid tower swayed in the sky.
London states that the fires spread quickly throughout the
city, and could not be controlled by any man. Again, he uses
personification to bring the fire alive, Thus did the fire of
itself build its own colossal chimney through the
atmosphere. London uses irony to describe the fires on
Wednesday night, Remarkable as it may seem, W ednesday
night while the whole city crashed and roared into ruin, was
a quiet night. The fires lasted two days, W ednesday
morning until Thursday night.
While the city was burning, inhabitants tried to flee the city
with their belongings. People tried to make it up San
Franciscos many steep hills, but had a hard time, so they
ended up leaving most of their things behind. London uses a
simile to paint the picture of the people giving up, In the
end, completely played out, after toiling for a dozen hours
like giants. After the fires burned out, all of the buildings,
hotels, stores, and houses in San Francisco were gone. Many
people became homeless.
Londons simile describes the aftermath, San Fr ancisco, at
the present time, is like the crater of a volcano, around
which are camped tens of thousands of refugees.
Ironically, Jack London does not end the story with gloom
and doom. After all the destruction and devastation, London
brings back hope by informing readers that the United
States Government is going to help the refugees. Also, we
are assured that San Francisco is not dead because the
bankers and business men have already set about making
preparations to rebuild San Fr ancisco.
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