The Story of an Eyewitness Analysis

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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 Francisco. London's report originally appeared in Collier's Weekly, May 5, 1906. As a reporter, London uses his writing experience to illustrate 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 Francisco's burning was a lurid tower visible a hundred miles away.” Next, he uses personification to illustrate 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, Wednesday night while the whole city crashed and roared into ruin, was a quiet night.” The fires lasted two days, Wednesday 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 Francisco, at the...
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