My Personal Analysis of “A Season in Hell”
In the story “A Season in Hell”, the journalist Christopher Ketcham depicts the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks and shows the effects it had on the people of New York City, especially on him and many of the firemen who went looking for the remains of bodies and survivors, hours after the collision of the twin towers of World Trade Center. Ketcham uses rhetorical appeals such as ethos and pathos, and relies on literary devices such as imagery and metaphors, to help convey the overall theme of distortion of the story.
The minute a person starts reading this story they can immediately feel disturbed by the diction Ketcham uses to describe the events he saw and went through. At the beginning of the story, when he says, “He was a curly-haired guy with a paunch and puffed red lips, and he was sleeping on with his stomach with his arms over his head, lying very naturally, except he had no buttocks or ...view middle of the document...
Another example of imagery is “…ash on every shoulder and every head, whole ash men; men with bloody eyes bandaged; wet towels over mouth; much thirst, and already the asbestos-filled air making throats hurt and skin heat up…” (Ketcham 9). This shows the state of health of the New Yorkers after the towers collapsed. Hundreds of people were covered in dust from head to toe, others were seriously injured missing an arm or leg, or both, and others were having massive headaches and asthma attacks because of the asbestos and dust polluting the air.
Ketcham establishes the use of metaphor to compare the people who were inside the towers at the time of the plane crash to heavy ants, as he says, “You could watch the heavy ants falling…” (Ketcham 9). Several people jumped from seventy and ninety stories up because they would rather die jumping and committing suicide than burning to death by a fire of over 6,000 degrees. As the story goes further, Ketcham’s use of diction gets even more disturbing and twisted. One of the firemen who did twenty-four-hour shifts saw the news when Mayor Rudolph Giuliani announced that only 218 remains had been found and removed. He was awed, and said, “A serious weeklong search and we’ve found two hundred in a pile of five thousand? What’s going on? Where is everyone? Why aren’t we founding more bodies? ‘Cause it’s all vaporized─turned to dust. We’re breathing people in that dust.” (Ketcham 12). Ketcham appeals to pathos and uses metaphor when he writes about breathing people in the dust. One cannot imagine breathing people, and just the thought of it is extremely disturbing and overwhelming.
After September 11, 2011, the emotions of the citizens couldn’t be clearly defined. There were no words strong enough to explain or justify significance of that horrifying moment in history. By writing “A Season in Hell” and portraying rhetorical appeals along with literary devices Christopher Ketcham provides us with a primary source of what exactly occurred after the attacks made by al Qaeda, and which also help convey the overall theme of distortion of the story.