Monday, August 29, 2011

Dark Passages: "The Wind"

The wind: welcomed when moderate, dreaded when it whips.  Invisible (manifesting only in its effects on other objects) and howling mouthlessly, it has an undeniably ghostly quality.  Ray Bradbury captures this perfectly in his short story "The Wind."  The following passage illustrates the author's unique ability to develop an uncanny premise (as he posits a supernatural undercurrent to a force of nature).  It also showcases Bradbury's knack for trans-forming a mundane situation (here, a telephone conversation between friends) into something macabre and haunting...

"So far, so good.  I'm locked in the kitchen now.  Part of the front wall of the house blew in.  But I planned my retreat.  When the kitchen door gives, I'm heading for the cellar.  If I'm lucky, I may hold out there until the morning.  It'll have to tear the whole damned house down to get to me, and the cellar floor is pretty solid.  I have a shovel and I may dig--deeper..."
It sounded like a lot of other voices on the phone.
"What's that?" Herb Thompson demanded, cold, shivering.
"That?" asked the voice on the phone.  "Those are the voices of twelve thousand killed in a typhoon, seven thousand killed by a hurricane, three thousand buried by a cyclone.  Am I boring you?  That's what the wind is.  It's a lot of people dead.  The wind killed them, took their minds to give itself intelligence.  It took all their voices and made them into one voice.  All those millions of people killed in the past ten thousand years, tortured and run from continent to continent on the backs and in the bellies of monsoons and whirlwinds.  Oh Christ, what a poem you could write about it!"
The phone echoed and rang with voices and shouts and whinings.  (207-208)

Work Cited

Bradbury, Ray.  "The Wind."  The October Country.  New York: Ballantine Books, 1991.  199-210.

Note: I had planned to post this Dark Passage yesterday, but the gusting winds(!)  from Hurricane Irene knocked out my Internet connection.

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