Unit 3: Assignment 2 by Gwenyth Van Doren

Chapter 1

In this chapter, Sontag examines Virginia Woolf’s response to “How in your opinion are we to prevent war?”. Sontag delves into Woolf’s critique of the use of “we”. However, I would say the main focus of this chapter is that Sontag looks at how photography is used to depict war, specifically with the intention to get the public to do something against war, but as Sontag concludes, war still continues. 

– Sontag begins the analysis of how photography, specifically images of war in this chapter, is used to depict the pain of others and the response photographers want to evoke from the audience. 

Chapter 6

In this chapter, Sontag discusses the desire to look at gruesome things like car crashes. We may feel disgusted by our own desires to look at such things, Sontag explains, but we find ways to justify it. The rest of the chapter looks at how this desire is present when looking at photographs from war, usually conflicts that are far away and do not concern us. Sontag concludes the chapter explaining why we do not do anything even after seeing such intense suffering in these photographs. 

– If sympathy makes us complacent in doing nothing when viewing photographs of war, so to combat this, Sontag suggests we avoid being sympathetic when we have to desire to view such photographs. 

Chapter 8

In this chapter, Sontag begins with how we feel good about having awareness about a situation even know we may not know how to solve or help towards said situation. Sontag talks about the importance and dangers of memory as well as the abundance of evil there seems to be in the world today – as a result of advances in media. The chapter ends with Sontag’s opinion that it is okay to look at an image and just to think about it. 

– Images are meant to provoke us in a way that causes us to think about it in some way.

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