“Where the hell is everyone?”
Patrick Carlyon, Herald Sun, 2010
“Where the hell is everyone?” Written by Patrick Carlyon is an incredibly powerful and emotional recount of the tragic experiences of Marysville residents during the horrific events of the Black Saturday bushfires.
Carlyon uses many different literary devices to elicit an emotional and empathic response from his audience. One of these is the constant use of metaphors, such as ‘erupts like a blow torch’, or the ever powerful ‘The wind rises in Marysville, hot and roaring, like a million hair dryers set on high’, to allow readers to really have an understanding of the heat that Marysville residents felt during that dreadful time in their lives.
Possibly the most powerful device used by Carlyon in this article is his use of present tense and constant reference to time. This creates a serious sense of immediacy and just how quickly ones life can change as Carylon retells of the neighbouring towns beginning to smoke and burn. The reader instantly wants to know more as the article begins to intensify with each paragraph, even though majority would have known the outcome of the Marysville bushfires, he does this to evoke emotion and to tell of the absolute devastation and destruction caused by these fires.
A tense atmosphere is created by the added anecdotes of several residents, like the small town Doctor Fraser, who is a little ‘bit mad’, and John Cartwright, a man whom lost his wife and is still riddled with grief. These anecdotes of the townspeople really personalise the story and almost puts a face to some of the victims. Also, by giving the reader a character, so to speak, it builds suspense and a want to read more to find out the fate of these people, and if they survive the events that are about to unfold before them.
The very beginning of the article gives the reader an immediate feeling of shock that is portrayed throughout its entirety. Within the first four lines, Carylon, again uses an anecdote of those at a bowls club, however this one really drives home the events that are about to transpire; ‘Paul is the oldest bowls club member. Like the youngest member, who is a year 9 student, he has less than eight hours to live’. This sentence alone is both shocking and really makes the audience think how lucky they are that this has not happened to them, or realise just how quickly things can happen when you least expect them too.
Carlyon’s use of comparisons of the Marysville bushfires to other tragic events such as those that transpired when the volcano erupted in Pompeii or the nuclear bomb at Hiroshima, enables readers to picture the type of ‘pandemonium’ that was happening at the time of the fires.
The way Carlyon has written this article has taught me that emotive and powerful writing really drives home a point and makes for an incredible read.