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Bringing History To Life Jack London’s: Story Of An Eyewitness

818 words - 4 pages

April 18, 1906 was a devastating day in San Francisco, California. At 5:12 AM, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the city and shook it for an agonizing sixty seconds. Collier's, a recognized magazine at the time, whose headquarters were located in Ohio, telegraphed Jack London after their immediate receipt of the news and asked him to go to San Francisco and write the story of what he saw. London used vivid language that descriptively portrayed the events of what happened. The emotions the victims went through as they fled for their lives could be felt as well as the chaotic disaster that was unfolding before them. The reader could even experience the longing for the destruction to end--just as the victims did--by London’s repetitive mentioning of what was being destroyed and where new fires had sprung.
“...I saw not one woman who wept, not one man who was excited, not one person who was in the slightest degree panic stricken.” All quotes in this essay are taken from Jack London’s Story of an Eyewitness. One can infer that with all that was going on around everyone during the time of the event, there would be some sort of disruption happening amongst the people while their world fell apart around them. However, London stated that everyone was ‘gracious’ and, “Never in all San Francisco's history, were her people so kind and courteous as on this night of terror.” Everyone remained calm and kept their goal of getting out of the range of fire at the front of their minds. London also described how everyone hauled their heavy trucks full of belongings up the steep San Francisco terrain. Up and down the hills they went and the people sluggishly followed the pattern. The people were exhausted and they stopped ‘from weakness every five or ten feet.’ Nothing more could possibly be asked of these citizens. They were always on the move, both physically and mentally as they longed for all this to end.
Homes were being lost with possessions inside, and the people who had everything now had nothing. London had a conversation with a man who said, “Yesterday morning, I was worth six hundred thousand dollars. This morning this house is all I have left. [Even] it will go [after] fifteen minutes.” There was one event in which London walked down the heart of the city, which surprisingly remained intact despite...

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