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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

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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.

London’s report

originally appeared in Collier’s 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.

He

uses a metaphor to describe what he saw, “San Fr ancisco’s

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

Francisco’s 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.

London’s 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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