The Boston Photographs

9 September 2016

The Boston Photographs Stanley Foreman, a journalist for the Boston Herald American, captured three famous photographs of a fire rescue case which reminded me of my grandmothers tragedy, displayed the themes of tragedy and anger, parallels to the movie World Trade Center, and aligns with my opinion that Foreman published the photographs rightfully. Foreman snapped the camera thinking to take heroic shots of a brave fireman successfully rescuing a woman and a child. Little did he know, he would capture the collapse of final hope as a woman fell into the gateway to death.

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A fire immersed a Boston building in the 1930s. A fireman desperately attempted to save a woman and a child from the inferno, and almost came to success. However, the fire escape the three stood upon crumbled from the arm of the building just before the fireman could hoist them onto the ladder of the firetruck. The fireman managed to jump to safety onto the ladder as the ledge broke. Unfortunately, the woman could not cling tightly enough to the fireman, therefore, her and the child dropped stories high onto the solid ground.

The woman died immediately from impact, but the child fell onto the cushion of her corpse and managed to survive. The treacherous scene showed on three photographs and became published in over four hundred newspapers across America. Understandably, this raised controversy as the public fired back with complaints of the gory pictures. Some argued that it contributed in, “Invading the privacy of death,” while others said it took responsibility in “Assigning the agony of a human being in terror of imminent death to the status of a side-show act” (Ephron, 658).

Ephron states her opinion in this essay saying, “Death happens to be one of life’s main events. And it is irresponsible—and more than that, inaccurate—for newspapers to fail to show it… ” (Ephron, 662). This essay brought me back to my youth with replaying images of what I imagined the scene of my grandmother’s death to look like. Honestly, it fell nothing short of a horror story, especially through the eyes of a muddled, vernal nine year old. I will not go in detail regarding the exact scene, for I find it inappropriately morbid, but I feel willingly to introduce a small, surfaced outline.

A fire swallowed her house, eating from the core and dispersing to the edges like a rotting apple. She lay in mid afternoon nap when awakened from the smoky air, but the fire had managed to block almost every exit. She made her way to the only door not already inflamed, but it she could not get it open. The story does not end here, but this sums up all I feel the need to tell. The casket remained closed at the funeral, so I never saw her body again. She rested at age fifty-seven, too young to leave, and too beautiful to have her body disintegrated into ashes.

Why did it have to happen like that? Nine years old and having to trust in God for strength proves a hard and strange thing to do, but a life lesson some never learn, and one I would need for the journey on. Ephron wrote this essay to bring forth the reader’s inner emotions as well as to show the emotion felt by the characters in the story. The themes of tragedy and anger serve as two of the major themes of the essay. The bravery and hope shown to us at the beginning of the story help accent these themes.

The author gives us these points to push a sense of reality into the readers, and to present a real event as well as its repercussions. Bravery showed from the fireman who risked his live to save these people. Hope came from the woman and child trapped inside fighting with optimistic longing to make it through. Tragedy and devastation overcame as the story twisted from what looked a promising victory to a deadly reality. The pictures then became published and taken offensively by readers bringing on a strong feeling of anger. The subject of reality also carries through in this essay.

It pictures as quite melancholy, and therefore brings its readers to awareness of a true story with thoughts and opinions of witnesses of the scene and readers of the numerous articles of the event. This event has parallels to the events of September 11, 2001, which has been demonstrated to us through the movie World Trade Center. The movie begins by showing the attacks of the buildings and the violence it brought to those inside. It focuses in on the firemen risking their lives to save the victims, however, as the second building crashes upon them, they become victims themselves.

The firemen demonstrate the similarities of bravery and hope to make it out of the fallen building alive, and the movie as a whole brings its viewers to the tragic reality, just as The Boston Photographs does. Personally, I felt moved by the twisted feelings and solid impact of the essay. It made me have to stop to process my thoughts, because I could not believe what I read. It hit me hard with horror and disbelief. I like essays like this that bring us to a since of reality, for I feel as if they are hardly told.

Most stories today become glamorized by positive attributes as dark grueling details are masked away leaving us with what our minds desire to believe instead of the harsh truth. Joy and promise turn to need and tribulation instantaneously in reality, which this essay highlights. The catastrophic story of the photographs taken of the sudden death of a woman hit me hard with a flashback of my grandmother’s death and also showed the predicament of the firefighters in World Trade Center, as both of these brought the themes of tragedy and anger to the story and farther pushed my opinion that the pictures became rightly publicized.

The essay exhibits sensibility and brings the readers to actuality, therefore, I feel it may stand out to readers over other essays. Real stories like this have the ability to teach us something valuable and hit our life experiences bringing a strong impact of emotion to our thoughts, which is why I feel the pictures should have been publicized. Although it displayed a horrific accident, the scene rightfully deserved telling.

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