EssayIn Operation Gomorrah, an autobiographical essay by Marione Ingram, Ingram describes her experiences as a child in Hamburg, 1943, as their city was bombed.
The essay is read through the eyes of Ingram as a young Jewish child, the identity that has been constructed for us by the author. This identity is constructed with techniques such as metaphor, simile, imagery, contrasting elements, and narrative voice. The character that Ingram creates has two parts. The first is a young, innocent, naive girl, but by the end of it, she has lost a lot of that innocence and has become traumatized and jaded, though, among all else, she is a survivor. NEEDS SOMETHING ELSE HERE. GOTTA LINK UP. DON’T KNOW WHAT THO.
Operation Gomorrah takes place during the bombing of Hamburg in 1943. During the events of the bombing, Ingram was eight years old, and the techniques she uses in her essay give the impression of being seen through the eyes of an eight-year-old girl. The innocence and naivety that comes with being a young child are explored through the use of techniques such as metaphors and similes. Ingram uses these techniques to effectively show the events to us as she had perceived them back then, with a state of innocence and naivety. One of the most effective ways this is used is to present situations happening around her in ways a child could understand. For example, when Ingram sees a large number of corpses floating in the water, she describes some of them as having “faces as read as Chinese lanterns”. (133) Seeing a large number of dead bodies floating in the canals, with their heads burnt to the state where they were red enough to be compared to Chinese lanterns would be a shocking experience for anyone, and Ingram was only eight years old at the time.
This is not the only time that she uses these techniques to cover up some of the more horrifying sites, re-affirming the view that she is a naive, innocent 8-year-old. The way that she has only used metaphors or similes to ‘protect’ herself from the atrocities happening around her is enhanced as she only ever uses the techniques in that way. The only times that they are used is when she is trying to describe something that a young child would find traumatic.
For example, when Ingram found a large number of people lying on the ground, dead, she describes them in two ways. Initially, she describes them with graphic imagery. “The flames had shorn their hair and clothes, seared and swollen their buttocks, split their skin and raised their hips a few inches off the ground.” The vivid imagery used to describe this is then heavily contrasted against the second the way she described the bodies, one that while still giving the reader the same type of image, does it in a more childlike, innocent way, by relating it instead to something every day, saying “Though still unmistakably human, they looked like huge bratwursts.”(Ingram, 132) As you can see, Ingram uses other techniques, such as contrasting the situation as it was truly happening to how she viewed it as a child. This creates a strong image of her innocence and naivety throughout her essay.
However, though her innocence as a child is a large part of her identity in Operation Gomorrah, after living through such horrific events, no child would leave that experience still completely innocent. And Ingram perfectly weaves that into her essay, a heavy contrast between her childlike innocence at the beginning, and her more jaded, bitter view at the end. At the beginning of the essay, Ingram recollects how she had felt when her mother had sent her to take her sister to her cousins. “I was thrilled to be outdoors, unsupervised, in charge.
” (Ingram, 123)The thrill of being outdoors and in charge shows that simple, childlike innocence that she has at the start of this text before the bombs fall. This is contrasted against how she sees those around her at the end of the war, two years later, “too embittered by their own war experiences to give much thought to the suffering of others, especially of people whom they are taught to hate.”(Ingram, 136) This is followed later by another quote, “the only expressions of regret I saw or heard in the streets, shops, and schools of Hamburg were laments for the hardships of defeat.”(136) These two quotes show the bitterness that she feels upon seeing the people in the remains of Hamburg, too swept up in their own losses to notice those that may have been suffering far more than they.
This contrast, and the loss of innocence it entails, is repeated throughout the text. This can be seen in the contrast between the description of the air before the bomb drops as “A cooling salt breeze from the North Sea blew through the streets” (Ingram, 123), and the air after the bombs have been dropped. “Flaming logs and lumber… were sailing about in the air, along with millions and millions of sparks” (Ingram, 132) The cool, peaceful breeze, one that “seemed to calm her baby sister” (Ingram, 123) represents the innocence that she had at the beginning of the text.
As the bombs are dropped, and the air becomes filled with fire and debris, the death and destruction around her destroying her childlike innocence. Ingram contrasts these slices of peace and happiness to the destruction and carnage that comes shortly after are used perfectly to portray her loss of innocence.Throughout the text, we consistently see the use of imagery to create horrific scenes in our minds. These sections of intense imagery, often coupled with other narrative techniques such as metaphors, are utilized in extremely vivid ways to show the readers that she has lived through such harrowing times, and yet still survived. Each of these small, sharp bursts of imagery