Joan Didion first describes Pearl Harbor, then the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, in Slouching Towards Bethlehem. What links do you see between the two places?

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Joan Didion first went and saw Pearl Harbor, she was overcome with emotion. It was in the late sixties when she visited Hawaii. Joan didn't think the image of a sunken ship would affect her so greatly.

Joan was moved to tears over the sight of the tomb that lays in the ocean. She wondered why she was so filled with emotions. She didn't feel these kind of emotions when Kennedy was assassinated. Joan was too young to remember WW II, but she felt it alive to her in some way. Joan was brought to the realization of just how real the war was.

At the National Memorial Cemetery, Joan was moved to tears once again. The cemetery is at the top of a crater, and while she was there, they were bringing more bodies home to be buried. This was right at the height of the Vietnam War, and Joan was struck at how the parents were in so much grief. While she was too young to remember the second world war, she now saw the Vietnam War as a mother, and the emotions were so much for her.

The two links that are between Pearl Harbor and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, for Joan, are that they are both shrines to the innocent dead. They are both places that can bring about such feelings of grief and tears, and they are places that are immortalized forever in nature. 

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