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Vivid analysis on Jack Londons “The Story of an Eyewitness”

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In Jack London’s account of the San Francisco Earthquake he uses vivid language to tell us, the readers, what went down that day. The immense amount of detail he uses makes us feel as if we were there right beside him. From the destruction of buildings, to the massive fires that blazed through the city. Even the people as they gracefully leave the city, exiled by the destruction of the earthquake, with little grief or despair to be showed. He uses great detail as well as personification, similes, metaphors, irony, and hyperbole as he describes his encounter on that day.

He begins by describing the thousands of dollars in damages of chimneys and walls that the actual earthquake caused, but focuses on the unknown hundreds of millions of dollars in damages that the fire caused that swept through the city afterwards. He then uses hyperbole by saying, “San Francisco is gone.” He uses metaphor when he says “. . .the smoke of San Francisco’s burning was a lurid tower. . .” He uses personification to paint the picture he sees before him, “. . .this lurid tower swayed in the sky. . .” Again, he uses personification “. . .the flames were leaping forward.” Yet again, he uses personification to describe the seemingly alive and unstoppable fire saying, “Thus did the fire build it’s own colossal chimney. . .” He follows up by using irony describing the calmness within the city that night, “As remarkable as it may seem, Wednesday night while the whole city crashed and roared in ruin, was a quiet night.” Again he uses irony, “. . .in all those hours I saw not one woman who wept, not one man who was excited, not one person who was in the slightest degree panic stricken.”

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