Unit 3 Assignment 3 – Emily Ezell

Both Gourevitch and Sontag provide information on and insight into the relationship between tragedy and imagery. Although Gourevitch does not include images from the Rwandan Genocide, his writing effectively conveys the same amount of shock and horror provoked by photographs. The story of the dogs during the genocide disturbed me the most. After his first few months in Rwanda, the noticeable lack of dogs struck Gourevitch. He counted the dogs he saw and inquired about their absence: the dogs were eating the dead, so the Hutus killed them. Along with the Tutsis, the dogs became victims of the Rwandan genocide. This story illustrates the horrors of war and genocide. But we do not feel a connection or response to such violence until we, willfully or forcefully, read, view, or hear stories of wrongful death. Sontag argues that only photography captures death in its true form. The camera places the viewer in a shocking scenario with no choice but to confront the horrors of reality. Gourevitch writes, “I couldn’t get past a photograph on the front page: bodies swirling in water, dead bodies, bloated and colorless, bodies so numerous that they jammed against each other and clogged the stream” (152).  These images engulf their audience, forcing them to confront reality and making them feel helpless.

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