The Santa Ana Winds, seen through of the eyes of Joan Didion, is perceived as frightening, powerful, and mysterious. The arrival of the dry, incendiary Santa Ana wind’s creates an unknown uneasiness for the people of Los Angeles. The unearthly atmosphere is shown through the issues created by the winds before even arriving. Joan Didion explains through diction and meticulous details the change in atmosphere created by the Santa Ana wind.
Didion begins by using creative diction and imagery to create tension. Words such as “uneasy”, “unnatural”, “ominous” and “mechanistic” gives the audience a clear idea that the wind is not welcomed. Through Didion’s diction the audience can feel something bad waiting to happen. All these words help prove to the audience the uneasiness and uncertainty regarding these winds. The imagery used is evoked by the diction.
The Pacific turning “ominously glossy” shows the reader how nature can affect the mood of the people. Peacocks screaming, ungodly heats, sirens, smoke. These appeal to senses and helps audiences imagine the mystery of what arrives with the winds. Readers begin to understand the dangers and un-predictableness of the Santa Ana winds through through Didion.
Diction and imagery accompany the appropriately selected details used in creating an unearthly atmosphere. The suspicious and dangerous attitudes of the Los Angeles community provide insight into the negative effect of the winds. Examples of neighbors roaming around with machetes and parties ending in fights prove to the audience that dangerous and mysterious things occur regarding the arrival of the wind. Alluding to Raymond Chandler, a crime fiction novelist, adds to the un-predictableness when describing meek little wives staring at their husband’s necks while holding a carving knife.
Didion ended off Chandler’s quote with “Anything can happen” providing a cliffhanger to what the winds and nature could do next. Didion continues to address unearthly natural experiences in other countries to create a universal issue to further frighten the audience. Like the personal details included, Didion includes scientific details gathered from other countries of the world. Alluding to the foehn wind that arrives in other countries, Didion connects the two winds together to prove winds such as the Santa Ana winds don’t only occur in one area. In Israel, it is said that the air during the foehn period contains an unusually high ratio amount of positive ions. This first seems like a good thing, even a slight change in tone.
Unfortunately, the audience is then fooled and once again feels the tension when reading how these positive ions actually makes people unhappy. This is not one of the only cases. In Switzerland, the suicide rate is said to go up. Surgeons have said to watch out for the wind because it creates blod clots. These details help prove that Didion is not exaggerating about the winds and how they create a universal issue. The Santa Ana winds are proof of nature’s evil. They create a negative effect on human’s behavior and even cause a health issue. Through Didion’s diction, imagery, and details, it all contributes to a sense of foreboding. The winds prove to the audience the un-predictableness nature has to offer.