“The View from Mrs. Thompson’s” describes the author’s experience in Bloomington, Illinois immediately after the attacks. The essay is heavily based on the author’s thoughts while watching the unfolding events at his neighbour’s house. It also contains descriptions of clips and insights into how people reacted to them. Wallace’s essay clearly illustrates that the term “view” can either refer to a view or a mindset.
Wallace initially focuses on the tragedy, but not the flag. Even though they are common in his neighborhood, uniting residents across classes and geographic lines, Wallace has yet to find one. He is concerned that the lack of a flag might be perceived as a negative statement about him. When he questions his neighbours about why they hang flags, the answer is fairly similar. It’s about pride, support, unity, and support. Even though he creates a fake flag with Magic Markers and paper, the essay focuses on the power of images and appearances in order to isolate and unite. This theme seems particularly pertinent given the recent racial profiling. However, at this time, it is not an issue. Wallace is sitting in Mrs. Thompson’s living area, watching the news. His description of this scene reminds me of an observation in the first paragraph: it seems like everyone’s watching the same traffic accident. This tragedy, despite their differing opinions and perspectives, is shared. Although footage of the North Tower falling was disturbing, it was still viewable. However, the clip of the North Tower collapsed was never shown again. Wallace tells viewers that Wallace and the others in the room look both scared and anxious as he plays the video. After a while, Wallace moves on to his next topic. While he and his neighbors were able to handle large-scale building destruction, the sight that people are jumping from them is too much. Perhaps it’s because people are naturally inclined to sympathize to those in peril.
Another way to define view is the diversity of opinions and perspectives that influenced the American public’s response to 9/11. These differences often stem from age as they greatly impact the understanding of the event. Wallace mentions Wallace as an example of a woman whose sons believed that the tragedy was only a movie at first, but then they discovered it was on every channel. This innocent thought caused them not to feel as angry or sad as many adults.
Wallace also talks about how geographical differences can affect people’s attitudes towards the tragedy. According to Wallace, people from the Midwest spend less time together and prefer to stay at home watching television, rather than going out to dinner. On the East Coast, people are more interested in meeting people face to face. This may lead to a greater sense of distance and detachedness in Bloomington. This makes New York’s tragedy appear more distant. Even though the television is off, they can still see the unfolding events but they are far less immediate and terrifying. New Yorkers wouldn’t have the privilege of such a distant view. Their altered skyline is more than a picture on a computer screen. It is something they feel and see.
Wallace then explores the difference between Bush’s cynicism as well as the prayer of the women present in his room. He silently criticizes Bush’s lack of speech and points out how the networks are presenting a manufactured response. He eventually mentions that it might be better to believe the views of Mrs. Thompson about the president, the images shown on TV and the power that prayer has, because that suggests that America would be greater than he thinks.
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