In the piece, Joan Didion describes the Santa Ana Winds which hit Los Angeles every so often. The winds are seen as a threatening issue, as Didion describes them as dangerous and unwanted. The passage portrays her view on the Santa Ana winds as something horrendous that makes a dramatic effect on the inhabitants of Los Angeles. In the first paragraph Didion begins by describing the eerie feeling in the air with words that connote an anxious tone, such as “uneasy”, “unnatural”, and “tension”. She does not mention what she is describing in her piece until the next paragraph, which creates suspense and gives the reader the impression that the subject she speaks of is a terrible thing. Once she reveals the subject, the Santa Ana Winds, the piece gains a certain emphasis and the reader instantly connects it with being malevolent. Didion also depicts the scene which many denizens of the Los Angeles area will encounter during the Santa Ana period: “For a few days now we will see smoke back in the canyons, and hear sirens in the night” (239). In this excerpt she describes how the wind will cause many fires and maybe even deaths, which give the impression that the winds are very dangerous. The author remember how due to the wind “[She] rekindle[d] a waning argument with the telephone company” (239).
The argument had weakened but the winds evoked a rage inside her that burst into uncontrollable actions, revealing how the wind negatively altered her emotions and actions. In the second paragraph of the passage Didion describes the Los Angeles area during the Santa Ana period. The author recalls being told that “the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the bad wind blew” (239). This creates an image of the wind being a feared force, which was horrible enough to make native-Americans run and hide. She also depicts the yellow glow in the sky which is sometimes called “earthquake weather”. Earthquakes are destructive and significantly alter human behavior as they create disparity in the habitant. This clearly reveals that Didion believes that winds are just as destructive as an Earthquake except the winds do their deeds by activating mechanistic behaviors. Her neighbor, during the Santa Ana period, “would tell [her] that he had heard a trespasser, [and] next a rattlesnake” (239). This image reveals the winds negatively altering her neighbor’s emotions and mental
state. He becomes increasingly paranoid, defensive, and violent. In the first half of the third paragraph Didion starts off with a quote, “every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands’ necks.
Anything can happen” (239). By using a second view of the winds, she grabs the reader’s attention and also adds to the credibility of her opinion. The quote also emphasized the fluctuation of human actions due to the Santa Ana wind. The author adds that the basis for the effect is also backed by science and further personifies the wind by describing it as “malevolent”. Although she contradicts herself, she still gets her point across fairly well. She also adds how the “doctors hear about headaches and nausea and allergies, about ‘nervousness’, about ‘depression” (239). In this sentence fragment Didion uses parallelism in order to show a connection between the symptoms which are all caused by the same Santa Ana wind, making them seem more malignant then they really are. In the second half of the final paragraph Didion begins using facts, saying that the “children become unmanageable… the suicide rate goes up[.]… and in the courts of some Swiss cantons the wind is considered a mitigating circumstance for crime” (239). The author uses pathos to get the reader to see how the winds cause people to go wild. Their brains are negatively impacted by the wind. Near the end of the passage the author uses a periodic sentence: “In any case that positive ions are there, and what an excess of positive ions does,9\in the simplest terms, is make people unhappy” (239). Didion uses a periodic sentence to emphasize that ultimately the winds cause unhappiness and despair in the people of Los Angeles. This sums up her opinion throughout the entire piece. Overall, Didion views the Santa Ana winds as pernicious to humans. She uses syntax, imagery, and diction to unveil and reveal her opinion to the reader.