When a piece of writing wins a Pulitzer, you know it’s gotta be good. And in the case of The Really Big One by Kathryn Schulz, I definitely agree.
Nature is beautiful, but it’s also extremely powerful. It’s unpredictable,and sometimes, we cannot fight nature’s acts. We just have to watch it happen, and hope it doesn’t affect us, and the ones we love. This article focuses on the power of nature, and how humans are sometimes so helpless in combating the effects of catastrophes such as tsunamis, hurricanes and in this case, earthquakes. This article focuses on how a giant earthquake will destroy the Northwest United States, but experts cannot say when. The sheer idea of something so permanent as land, civilization, culture all being destroyed again highlights the unpredictability and power of nature.
One amazing thing Schulz does in this article is the way she presents information. Many writers use comparison to get their readers involved in the text. Similes, metaphors, and rich diction that allows the reader’s experience to involve just their eyes and their mind. Schulz goes one step further. When she explains how the plates in the Cascadia subduction zone are behaving, she directs the readers to use their hands to mimic the movements of the tectonic plates in the area. This simple section of the text is a great example of transforming information to make it understandable to your audience. Another example of comparison she used that I personally enjoyed was when she used objects such as wineglasses, Humpty Dumpty, antique vases and hip bones to demonstrate the after effects of the earthquake on the people. “What breaks quickly, generally mends slowly.” This was a very interesting way to put into perspective the devastating effects of the potential earthquake, how people would have to rebuild their lives, and how the government would take a long time to restore basic amenities such as water and electricity.
Even though experts have predicted the earthquake, they still don’t know how to combat it. As Doug Dougherty, a superintendent of schools said in the ending of the article, there is no long-range plan. And I believe that ties the article together beautifully, it’s like a game of Uno with nature. You know Nature has the draw four card, yet you can’t do anything about it. It’s bound to hit you.