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Nam Nguyen

9/29/14
Period 1
AP Lang & Comp
The Santa Ana Winds
“ The Santa Ana” by Joan Didion and “Brush Fire” by Linda Thomas offer complete
separate views to a similar topic, the winds of Southern California. In a first person narration the
authors write of the wind from her own experience of living in California and from her own
perspective, shedding light on two very different aspects of the Santa Ana winds.
Physically, both pieces of literature are different. Each story reflects its own writer as
“The Santa Ana” has lengthy paragraphs, chock full of information. Didion is an American
Author known for her literary journalism and use of logos. At a glance of the piece, it lists of
reasonings and details is clearly visible. Each paragraph is filled with descriptions and examples
of the author’s point. Didion cites others like Raymond Chandler and uses lots of facts to prove
her point of the winds destructive nature. “Brush Fire” has noticeably shorter paragraphs and
uses much more imaginative diction like in paragraph four where she describes the wind’s
journey as “....arrives in the foothills of southern California in hot, bone-dry, ten to forty mileper-hour gusts that lower the relative humidity to three percent” in comparison to Didion’s
description in paragraph three, “warmed as it comes down the mountain and appears finally as a
hot dry wind”. Thomas is a well-versed poet, known to have published in the American Poetry
Review. She offers her own opinion and recalls many memories with the winds in short
anecdotes rather long paragraphs. Both authors are of different writing natures writing on the
same topic, offering different perspectives to their readers.
Joan Didion approaches the Santa Ana winds in a much more frightened, fearful light.
She writes of how the winds are so mighty and scary that in paragraph 5 of “The Santa Ana”,
“some teachers do not attempt to conduct formal classes….the suicide rate goes

a casual pastime like watching stars. she admires the winds and appreciates what the winds offer in return for their destruction. students. She and her neighbors gather around and watch the brushfire destroy a hill in the distance. She does not write of how the wind caused fire to ravage the shrublands. Didion clearly states how teachers.. Thomas casts a soft light on the winds. to physicists. Both stories use imagery to convey their different and opposing views. She mentions how the fear-stricken victims of southern California are paranoid like her neighbor that refuses to leave the house and her husband who roams with a machete. Thomas casually explains in paragraph three of “Brush Fire”. but that humans are and the winds only do what they must. In contrast. all walks of life are affected. a “.surgeons…. but she writes of the symptoms it inflicts on the people. to generally everyone becomes unhappy and uncomfortable during the winds. Didion mentions all the after effects of the wind and the harm it can do like inflict paranoia. She implies that the winds cause of destroying the Southern California land is natural.” (Thomas pg 3). Thomas uses descriptive and mesmerizing phrases like in paragraph two of “Brush Fire” . then the wind itself. “the burning of chaparral during these winds is normal”. Though Thomas focuses more on the fire caused by the wind.up…. Similar to when an unknown disease goes viral. Didion personifies the wind as almost an unknown epidemic. Thomas does not fear the winds like Didion..new growth in the spring. Thomas approaches the Santa Ana winds as a routinely destructive awe.. Didion’s personification of the wind focuses on a fearful and distant light.watch the wind because blood does not clot normally…. a simple part of nature. The two stories work in comparison in a sense that both authors use similar literary devices to convey their point. She believes that the winds are not destructive.is make people unhappy”. doctors.

Didion uses metaphorical value like in paragraph two of “The Santa Ana” where she says. In paragraph 8 of “Brush Fire”.” She compares the yellow cast to that of an earthquake. but she ignores them because they are such a routine part during this period of destruction. in the distance are flames that burn the shrubland.when she describes of chaparral as the “crooked red-brown wood of the manzanita”. Though similar in subject. painting a picture of a casual day during the winds. and one woke in the night troubled not only by the peacocks screaming in the olive trees but by the eerie absence of surf. She says. implying that the destruction and weight of the Santa Ana winds is equivalent to an earthquake. Didion uses descriptive. pg 2) to describe the atmosphere surrounding the winds. “The sky had a yellow cast. short sentences to paint a picture for the reader. Her use of imagery throughout the story emphasizes her view of the Santa Ana winds. the Santa Ana winds.” (Didion. She enchants readers of the chaparral’s beauty through delicate and soft words rather than factual information like “The Santa Ana”. “absence”. she uses imagery and appeals to many senses. the kind of light sometimes called ‘earthquake weather’. The way she words it combined with the words she uses (e. and imagery. Linda Thomas and Joan Didion come from two separate writing backgrounds and meet at one topic. “eerie”. “screaming”. “ominously”) create an overall gloomy. Didion and Thomas offer two different perspectives of the winds in their writing through style. “The Pacific turned ominously glossy during a Santa Ana period. In “The Santa Ana”. ominous tone. As she goes to work. Both authors use a similar technique to convey very different perspectives. tone. Thomas writes that man is his own enemy and . While Didion feels as though the wind is man’s enemy.g. Didion continues and goes on to describe Los Angeles weather as catastrophic like an apocalypse in paragraph seven. Thomas describes the sky “dark with smoke” and the “smell…(of) oders of burning sagebrush” as she gets dressed for the day and goes to work.

. Thomas and Didion paint two separate pictures using the same brushes and paints. separate the stories. of the same scene. Their two different writing styles.the wind only takes part in a natural cycle. Offering two opposing perspectives on one topic. one from a literary journalist background and another from that of a poet.

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