N.K. Kleinfield's "A Creeping Horror"

Essay by FastEddy93College, UndergraduateA, April 2005

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N.K. Kleinfield's story for The New York Times allows his readers to experience September 11th's day of trauma and horror like no other. I feel that Kleinfield had a strong beginning to his article because of the way he chose his words. His first sentence and paragraph, "It kept getting worse", left me wondering 'what kept getting worse'? This made me want to read on to find out more information. As I did, the story started to unfold right off the bat and he fed me the answer to my question in the steps of the event that took place. I noticed in the third paragraph that he asked a lot of questions that he clearly was intending to answer. The questions he asked, such as "But was it friend or enemy?" and "Should they go north, south, east, west?", were thoughts that must have been going through the people's horrified minds who witnessed the threat.

At sum other point in the story Kleinfield repeats his one sentence paragraph by writing "And then it got worse", this showed me that he was going to unfold more horrifying information and that the story was not finished. So

the beginning of Kleinfield's story, which had so far kept me gravitated, gave me a very apparent picture of what was to become of it.

The structure that Kleinfield used for his narrative was based upon interviews that he took of the different point of views of the people who witnessed the event first hand. He gave us the basic overall view of the event first however, in order to create a solid beginning. Some of the interviewees had very little speaking roles in the story but instead gave a different perspective, which described the moment in time when they realized the tragedy had struck. For example Kleinfield writes of a man named Jim Farmer, a film composer, who at the time was having breakfast at a small restaurant on West Broadway, when he noticed the sound of a jet. He then tells us " 'All the pigeons in the street flew up.' " No other direct quotes were made. Other interviewees, Tim Lingenfelder for example, contributed more to Kleinfield's story. He appeared twice in the narrative, first remarking the negative space that was minutes before filled with twin towers, and then he was introduced in his office writing an ordinary e-mail to his sister right before the action even took place. I believe Kleinfield brought this individual "back" into the story because Mr. Lingenfelder had an interesting perspective of the whole situation, being that he was trapped inside for twenty minutes not knowing what to expect when he would reach the outdoors, which was explained to be quite a site.

Kleinfield considered that this type of material would serve well in his story.

The interviews are arranged in a way that follow the sequence of the events that took place, the before, during, and after. Some of the interviews tell the stories of survivors who had luck on their sides because they made a change in their daily routine that very morning. Kleinfield ends his narrative with a direct quote from Monet Harris: " 'You always look for those two buildings. You always know where you are when you see those two buildings. And now they're gone.' " To end this story with such harsh realization left a great impact on me. The impression that Kleinfield left me with of that fateful morning was that many people were affected by what had happened.

Kleinfield used symbols in his article to create an even bigger effect when reading it. He described the smoke that poured into the downtown avenues as "tornadoes on their sides", the perfect symbol of destruction. He also wrote: "For those trying to flee the very epicenter of the collapsing World Trade Center towers, the most horrid thought of all finally dawned on them: no where was safe." The symbol that I took from this quote was that of the word 'epicenter' which, in the story, describes the location of the people trying to escape the disaster.

Kleinfield weaved a fine story. It left me with a better understanding of how the terror that day affected so many people. He had a lot of extreme interviews to work with and ended up with a great story because of them.