Joan Didion's Essay "Los Angeles Notebook"
The Santa Ana winds cause people to act more violently or unruly and makes others irritable and unhappy to a great extent. Joan Didion explains to the reader about how the Santa Ana affects human behavior in her essay “Los Angeles Notebook.” Through the use of imagery, diction, and selection of detail Didion expresses her view of the Santa Ana winds.
Didion paints uneasy and somber images when describing the Santa Ana winds. “There is something uneasy in the Los Angeles air… some unnatural stillness, some tension,” starts the essay off with the image of Los Angeles people in a sense of stillness or tense. She further adds, “Blowing up sandstorms out along Route 66… we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night,” propagating the uneasy and stark image of Los Angeles. “The baby frets. ...view middle of the document...
Her tone for the first half of the opening, primarily the first and second paragraphs is calm, inviting, and explanatory. Didion tries to capture the attention of the readers by constantly using tone that is not harsh. The second half of the opening to her essay, which deals with the scientific aspects of the Santa Ana winds, is mostly explanatory. “To live with the Santa Ana is to accept, consciously or unconsciously, a deeply mechanistic view of human behavior,” she state in a serious yet not overbearing tone.
With her use of syntax, Didion largely varies her sentence structure. This reduces the monotony of her essay and presents a variety of sentence lengths that go along with what she is trying to accomplish. Short sentences such as “The baby frets,” and “the maid sulks,” are mostly to create short lasting vivid images. She adds quotes around words such as “nervousness,” and “depression” to show the connection between the meaning of those words and the Santa Ana winds.
Didion also carefully selects the details she points out to increase the impact of what she is saying and keep the reader interested, and hopefully finish her essay. She brings up interesting details such as, “the heat was surreal. The sky had a yellow cast… ‘earthquake weather’,” to show the anxiety caused by the Santa Ana winds. She also brings up the views of her neighbor who locks herself in her house, and her husband who runs around with a machete to outline the problems caused by the Santa Ana winds. To further emphasize the effects of winds, she brings up details such as, “in Switzerland, suicide rate goes up.”
Didion attempts to show the connections between humans and their environment. She states that human’s lives are directly influenced by their environment and continuously uses the word “mechanistic” to relate to the impersonal determination of peoples lives. With her well-crafted opening Didion hopes to keep the reader interested in continuing her essay to the end. Using interesting stylistic elements Didion captures the reader’s attention.