The Absence

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The Absence
Non-Fiction Analysis of “Ground Zero” by Suzanne Berne
In the short essay, “Ground Zero”, Suzanne Berne illustrates her experiences while visiting the site of the tragic terrorist attack on the World Trade Center after the event. When visiting the site, Berne gives the reader not only her thoughts and reactions, but also her observations of other’s feeling. She conveys to the reader through vivid imagery and expressive figurative language not only a sense of astonishment and horror, but also the resulting patriotism the disastrous event brought forth.

Berne uses dramatic imagery when describing what she sees at the location, and the astonishment she feels. When Berne fist sees the sight, she notes that she sees nothing, “But once your eyes adjust to what you are looking at, “nothing” becomes something much more potent, which is absence.”(Berne 167). Where once there was there was a hub of movement and activity and purpose, now there is a void. An emptiness that is so surprising that at first glance your brain is not quite capable of perceiving it in its entirety. Once she begins to look past the void though, she starts seeing, “…the periphery, the skyscraper shrouded in black plastic, the boarded windows, the steel skeleton of the shattered Winter Garden.”(Berne 168). She begins to notice not just the void this attack has caused, but also the surrounding havoc, the despair. Not only is there an absence of life where the Twin Towers once stood, but there is also a loss of what was once a thriving, prosperous place that surrounded them. Berne allows us a glimpse through her eyes the impression this place leaves on her soul, in a way that goes beyond just the event, to its effect after the fact.

Berne also uses figurative language when illustrating her thoughts on what she sees. She informs the reader that, “…ground zero looks at first simply like a construction site.”(Berne 168). When a person sees a construction site, they usually think...
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