assignment 4-1: preliminary observations about “The Falling Man”

Due: Monday 10/31
Format: Leave a comment on this post and bring your lists to class
Length: Two or three paragraphs

Read “The Falling Man” on pages 69-80 in the Course Reader. You’ll find that this essay has much more text than the other things we’ve been reading in class.  Junod’s essay is layered, fragmented, complex, and ambient.  It will help you to take notes as you read in order to track what you observe and to make sense of it later. As you work through the essay, make marks in the margins or underline passages that seem significant to you for any reason.

In Assignment 2-1 and Assignment 3-2, I asked you to make lists of your observations:

  • Notice details that stand out
  • List patterns of repetition and contrast
  • List anomalies – things that seem unusual, that seem not to fit the pattern

For this assignment, use what you already learned from these steps to take notes on your initial impressions of ‘The Falling Man.”  In a notebook, make your lists of details, patterns, and anomalies. Additionally, now that you’ve had more practice with rhetorical analysis, you might also note other strategies, key terms, distinctions, or questions you see in Junod’s essay.  After you, have made your lists in your notebook, write two or three paragraphs about what observations/patterns/anomalies/strategies you think are the most significant (and why) for understanding and interpreting “The Falling Man” at this point.

Leave your paragraphs as a post on this blog. Bring your notebook with your lists to class on Monday. We’ll be using your notes in small groups during class. Also, bring your textbook.

13 thoughts on “assignment 4-1: preliminary observations about “The Falling Man”

  1. In the falling man the parts that stand out to me are the different qualities the author points out in the picture. He describes how his leg is prompted up and how his jacket is slightly opened or how the man might feel about the suicide he’s attempting. He has a very descriptive advantage to his readers having them look beyond the picture that is shown and focus more on detailed not normally pointed out.
    He gives different perspectives on an artist stating how much of a dedicated artist he is and how he loves his job and takes it very seriously. He states how when a call came in saying a plan had crashed into the North Tower how quick he got there to capture footage and get a story.
    Junod explains this picture in sequence beginning with description and then proceeds by giving the background to the actual event. I just don’t understand if this reading was referring to the 9/11 event and how people were jumping out of windows to save their lives? Is he giving a metaphor stating that the man was committing a suicide when really he was trying to save his own life the best way knew how? There are a lot of interpretations he makes to not only Jonathan Bailey (the falling man) but about the tragedy in general.

  2. One of the most important things that I thought were brought up in the essay is how it took so long and contacting so many different people just to find out who the man was. Once they thought they knew who the man was, they realized something didn’t fit the characteristics and had to start finding a new name to the “falling man”. There were multiple people who had called in looking for their loved ones thinking that this “falling man” could be them.
    Something that kept repeating was how the friends and families of the victims reacted to the pictures. They were all angry that the news was able to show all these pictures and videos as it was happening. It also seemed to really bother them when the victims of the attack were called “jumpers”. No one really wanted to admit that the person they loved gave up without a fight and didn’t seem to try to save themselves. People didn’t want to face the reality too soon which is why the picture of the falling man was only shown once.
    At the end where the author compares this picture of the falling man to a war memorial really stood out to me. These things are quite similar; it shows how people will be remembered even though you aren’t able to find out who it exactly is. For both of these things you have bodies of people, yet no faces or names to match up. You just know during this tragedy someone close to you was lost and will always be remembered. The war memorial lists many names and no pictures while the “Falling Man” has a picture of someone but no names listed, just the families and friends of the victims in there hearts and are able to relate to this picture.

  3. Rachel Hegland
    English 101
    The Falling Man

    While reading this piece, a feeling of pity stirred inside of me as well as a sick sense of reality. I have thought about death time to time but not as vividly and acceptingly as I did while reading this. The writer wanted to tell the story of the photograph, the importance of photography in history, and at the same time, stem a sense of grave comparison between the reader and the victims. By this I mean I was constantly reminded of the tragedy they had to endure and was forced to acknowledge that those people were going to die and each one of them had a final thought. It was so apparent in the reading that I constantly was faced with inevitable truth that we all will have a final thought; a final plight of our own one day.
    The picture represents what photography does for history, as Junod says, “… one never knows when history is made until one makes it… The pictures were shown as everything is shown, for, like the lens of a camera, history is a force that does not discriminate.” This is why this picture of the Falling Man was so controversial. In the beginning, it only enhanced the public’s anger, creating controversy over whether it was humane to use the flailing bodies as an exhibit for artistic purposes. It is said that by doing this, the photographer is taking away something that only the victim’s family processed. However, the real question is when humans deemed witness unworthy, especially unworthy of death. The questions posed are those of religious influence and where in history did the format for documentation alter.
    The only anomalies I witness were those random, sporadic, one lined sentences in between paragraphs. For example, “He could not have died by jumping out a window.” Another instance where this occurs is when he says, “Oh, no. You have to fall.” The only significance I see these deliver an heir of mockery when Junod writes these things. As if he is restating what the family said only to clarify their reason to point out its absurdity. Yep. That is all really, I thought the stories of the interviews were irrelevant at first, but later throughout the reading I saw their significance.

  4. When I first turned to the page of course the first thing I looked at was the picture of the man falling from the twin towers to his death on 9/11. The reason this stood out to me was because it is the only picture in the entire essay and also it talks a lot about the picture which shows the importance and controversy behind it. When the photographer Richard Drew describes how his picture of the falling man differed from other pictures of falling people was that this man later identified as Norberto Hernandez fell with grace like a diver while other people were fighting the inevitable the entire free fall he seemed to not. Having said that there is really no difference between Norberto and all of the other jumpers because they are all jumping out of desperation and they all know what lies ahead for them after they jump.
    One of the strongest contrasts that I found in the essay was that this was the most filmed days in history but the entire media refused to show any of it due to controversy over showing these horrific images. Also out of respect for the families that had lost someone on in the attack such as the Hernandez family who were very upset at the pictures as pretty much anyone else would be if that was their family member or acquaintance that they knew. I feel that this is a very positive contrast because the media was taking a stand in a way because they knew that there was tons of footage of the incident that they could have shown to draw in viewers but they had the respect to not show them because of the families that lost loved ones. I find this to be a similarity to when Richard Drew chose not to snap pictures of Bobby Kennedy when he witnessed his assassination because he had respect and did not have the heart to take pictures of the dead body. But the thing I found strange was that while he didn’t have the heart to photograph one man’s death he certainly didn’t have a problem photographing an incident that thousands of people died. Even though it was for his job he could have at least taken a stand and not taken pictures as he did at Kennedy’s death. The last comparison I have would be the comparison between the terror in the streets and the calmness in the Associated Press where Drew worked, why would it be so calm in a media company during a time of so much destruction? I believe it to be because they were doing what they do best which is reporting and working on developing the story which distracted them from all of the chaos that was going on as they worked while the people in the streets are going crazy because they are scared and confused about what is going on and they did not have anything to shelter themselves from the destruction or to take their mind off of the mass chaos.

  5. The way the author describes the falling man really stand out to me. How they are pretty sure that the man was latino, had a goatee, was wearing a white shirt and black pants showing that he might have been a restaurant worker but what stand out for me the most is when the author talks about the orange shirt. This is why the identity of the man is unknown because if he was a worker he wouldn’t have been able to wear even a colored shirt underneath his uniform. Also knowing that people went through so much effort in order to find out the identity of the falling man really surprises me. On September 11, the people who deiced to jump where really never identified because their was no way of really finding out how they where because they where dissemble.
    What really disappoints me is the way they tried to handle telling the family that they thought was connected to the man. I don’t think that going to the funeral of a person who died in such a tragic and tell the family that their loved one jumped out of a building and they have a picture to show it is such a good idea. Knowing that they are mourning the lost but then putting that on top of it is horrible. I feel like they could have at least waited until the event had passed and people had finally got on with their lives. I also thought that it was strange at how that photo had effected the families lives even though it was not someone that they knew. The whole controversy behind they photo stood out to me. For example when the news papers that had printed the picture had gotten bomb threats for using the photo or the people who had given the family of the man such harsh feed back was appalling to me. I also thought that they way the author think that not showing the photo in public was a way for us to forget about the ones who had died that way. I just though that it may have been to soon to show photos like that right after the event but just because we didn’t see them anymore didn’t make people forget the people who chose to go that way. This story really made me look back to the present time that this event had happen and really made me think about how some actions of other can have a dramatic effect on someones life.

  6. What I thought were some interesting details Tom Junod points out in his essay The Falling Man is that he takes notice in small details. He makes these small details into important facts, like how his leg is bent at the knee, almost like the jumper is accepting the fall. And he talks for a whole page about how the outfit of the “falling man” is poetic and perfect for the situation. Also how he singles out this one man because he feels he is different because the other jumpers were flailing and not as relaxed.

    There was an obvious repetition, how the families and friends reacted when they saw these photos. How they were all told that their friends and family jumped off the North and South Tower and how most of their bodies didn’t stay intact. The fact that the media showed these pictures on the news upset the families because they didn’t want their loved ones to be remembered that way. Remembered as someone who just gave up and didn’t fight for their life.

    Something that was odd to me was that when people first saw these photos they didn’t accept that they were people. They made up excuses like they were birds. Why did the author chose this photo as the topic of his essay? Tom Junod talks about the other jumpers and how they were some-what typical and didn’t embrace the fall like Jonathan Briley did. Why talk about something that is so painful to some people? I don’t understand how Junod can relate Jonathan Briley to the North and South Towers, saying that the geometric balance makes him an essential element in the making of this photo.

  7. While reading Tom Junod’s essay “The Falling Man”, several details stood out to me. In the beginning of the essay Junod began with a just analyzing the photograph, pointing out how graceful the man looked, what he was wearing, and what emotions are felt or what happens generally when someone commits suicide from “jumping”. At first when you glace at the photograph and the first couple paragraphs of the reading you wouldn’t think that the essay would lead into the 9/11 tragedy. A major repetition the whole essay was based on was September 11, 2001- when the World Trade Center Towers were attacked and the photograph of the falling man. Throughout the whole essay the big dispute was on trying to figure out who that man was.
    As I stated before the entire essay was based on the photograph of the falling man and trying to identify who he was. The essay goes on to state that the reporters and photographers analyzed the photo Richard Drew had taken and bothered the families whom they thought the man was related to. I realized while I was reading how insensitive the majority of reporters and photographers were to the 9/11 tragedy. I can understand that being “nosey” is part of their job, but when it comes to a situation that was as horrific as 9/11, I believe they should have some respect for the families that are grieving. One aspect I found slightly odd was when the essay began to talk about Eric Fischl’s sculpture of the tumbling woman, which was representing the “jumpers” of 9/11. I thought it was strand on where it was placed and how it came up in the reading. Fischl took a photograph of a falling model and then after the 9/11 event he somehow played the two hand in hand to say the sculpture represented the “jumpers”. They tie that piece into the essay very well when they bring up Auschwitz and saying it takes time for these types of events and Fischl placed his sculpture “out in the open” much too early; then being thought as insensitive.

  8. While I read the essay a lot of things stood out to me as very odd. I think it is so weird that they brought up how his shoes stayed on. They said everyone else’s shoes feel off and there shirts were ripped. Why would his clothes and shoes not do that? I think another thing that was weird how some families didn’t want to look and see if it was there husband/dad I would want to know if that was my dad. Also how they said that they were approving some jumping pictures and not the others. What defines what would be okay to see and what isn’t it should be either all of them get to be seen or none of them.

  9. After reading “The Falling Man” I observed how Tom Junod brought this picture of the person in the window to a whole different perspective. My first impression of this did not think that his essay was about 9/11. A pattern I noticed was that they continued to say the word “witness” and they were consistently bothering families trying to figure out who the man in the picture was. Another pattern in the essay was the whole essay was based off of one picture and Junod kept referring back through the picture throughout his essay. An anomaly that I felt was strange was that he said the man was trying to commit suicide. In a sense if the man jumped from that tall building yes, he more than likely would have died however, why say he was trying to commit suicide? Maybe the man was just so scared that he was looking for anyway to save his life.

  10. “The Falling Man” written by Tom Junod is filled with a detailed description of the background of a featured picture, taken by Richard Drew, of a man who was in the one of the Twin Towers on 9/11/2001. When I read Junod’s essay I was introduced to a different aspect of 9/11. It was more than just a terrorist attack on America- but the aftermath held an emotional attack on all Americans. This essay was interesting to read because it described how people reacted to the photographic documentation of the event.
    First of all, the entire essay is focused on one picture, the picture of the falling man. A strand that I found was the mentioning of the Hernandez family. At first, when this picture was taken it was many people’s goal to find out who this person was. When the picture was zoomed in, the researchers found that this man appeared to be Latino, had a goatee, and the color of his wardrobe was identified. As they narrowed it down, they guessed that his man could have been Norberto Hernandez. What I recognized in the essay was the strand of Hernandez’s name. Junod kept writing about the family every other paragraph. I found this interesting in the essay.
    Secondly, what I found in the essay that seemed out of place was why the researchers kept focusing on the clothes. The mentioning of the “orange shirt” was enough. This does accentuate how every detail of this man was essential to figuring out the identity of the falling man. In the essay, Junod writes “No one can know if the tunic or shirt is being pulled away from him, or if the fall is simply tearing the white fabric to pieces. But anyone can see he is wearing an orange shirt.” (page 75) As the essay continues, so does the orange shirt- because it was one of the only ways to correctly identify this man.
    Overall, there were many observations I made in the essay that made this essay unique. It was helpful for me, as a reader, to learn about the controversies about 9/11 and how the presentation of photographic documentation effected the families of the loved ones who lost their lives because of the attack- some of which refused to be a part of it. But, in the end, reading this essay opened my eyes to ideas I never thought of.

  11. When i was reading “The Falling Man”, Something that caught my eye was the many qualities he talks about. The description he gives for the numerous qualities makes each one stand out like one particular one where a leg is held up and he suggests that the man is thinking about committing suicide. I’ve never seen someone make an assumption off of the one detail. It was very interesting to say the least. Considering his descriptive talents, i came to the conclusion that he uses each picture to make his audience look beyond the photo. He’s basically trying to incorporate the term “A picture has a thousand words”.

    When Junod explains about the picture of the falling man being compared to a war memorial, it caught my eye and i payed closer attention. In my mind, there are similarities, and there are major differences. Considering the man fell out of the window and it was an iconic photo, i can see how it could be considered an iconic photo, but on the other hand, 9/11 was more of a tragedy then a war moment. Tragedies are sad and something we look back on with sorrow while war memorials are something we look back on with pride and accomplishment.

  12. One of the anomalies that I noticed in “The Falling Man” is the Tumbling Woman reference. I think it is odd to include a random man and his photographs of a random model tumbling around the floor. Although his sculpture captured was people thought it to be “the very local horror of the jumpers”, he did not do it intentionally and he did not mean to add to anybody’s pain. It is Eric Fischl’s right as a human being to express himself, and it just so happened to correlate with the jumper’s redemptive image. He just says he was “trying to say something about the way we all feel”, but people took it completely opposite. It is not fair that his exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art was taken down after a week. It appears odd that people went so far as to turn this piece of art into a symbol of how they felt from 9/11 in a negative way.
    In “The Falling Man”, the beginning sentence of each paragraph is bolded. These sentences are perhaps the main point that the author wants to emphasize, and they are all connected in some way. The first section states that the man “departs from this earth like an arrow.” The man that “jumped” looks relaxed and appears comfortable. The second sections bolded title is “the photographer is no stranger to history”, which helps explain that the photographer of the photo is present at horrific events. The third section is “they began jumping not long after the first plane hit the north tower”, which explains how people continually jumped. The author is connecting all of the main points that America feels strongly about or were most interested in. Another sections bolded title is “ Catherine Hernandez never saw the photo”, which ties together the daughter of the man who was thought to be “The Falling Man”. Catherine Hernandez not wanting to see the photograph represents America as a whole perhaps not wanting to know or see that people took their own lives by jumping.

  13. One of the most interesting things about Junods essay was the disinterest many of the families had in finding out if the falling man was a part of their family. In the end, a member of the families’ always came forward to find out, but the fact that they made such a protest is incredibly weird to me. If I had lost someone I’d want to know everything I could about their last hours or minutes of life. I also found it interesting and a little bit weird the extent to which Junod went to find out where these families stood with the fact that the falling man could be their family member, and how they knew he wasn’t. Eulogia Hernandez dressed her husband every morning, she knew he didn’t own an orange shirt. That wrote him off.
    The comparison of the Tumbling Woman and the Auschwitz Holocaust museum struck me as well. The woman spoke of all of the things the nazi’s had stole from the death camp prisoners and how they are now on display for the world to see, but the Tumbling Woman exhibition was closed after just one week due to bomb threats. It’s true that time heals all wounds, and in time the wounds from September 11th, have been healed and now we can view these images and have museums, but at the time of the Tumbling Woman it was too soon. I just find the comparison interesting because the events can be compared in a similar light.
    The last main piece of the essay that struck me is the reaction of all of the wives that could have been married to the falling man. All of them putting up a front of not wanting to know, and all of them soon finding out what they never wanted to. This was in all cases except for the mother of the two sons that found them in a photo and was relieved. But the reactions of all the women in association with the falling man were very similar. I find it to be interesting how women from all different walks of life can be similar in the loss of a loved one.

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