The following is in response to Ira Sadoff’s “Hopper’s ‘Nighthawks’ (1942).”
Sadoff’s flash prose piece about the famous “Nighthawks” painting by Edward Hopper has a ‘numb’ tone to it—“…no one walks the streets…the sidewalks are swept clean…There is no wind…the town sits in its shadow.”—that I think is due to the war going on; the second world war. Not affected by the war directly, the people are in a stalemate-consciousness, waiting for the war to be over.
Within the last sentence there is a flash of evidence on the numb-from-the-war tone: “When he picks up the morning paper he is not surprised to read there would be no exchange of prisoners, the war would go on forever, the Cardinals would win the pennant, there would be no change in the weather.” The sentence doesn’t end with “the war would go on forever”; like the Cardinals winning the pennant and the weather not changing, nothing can be done to change what is happening. There’s nothing anyone can do about the war but wait.
I am curious about the image of “hospital beds” compared to the empty seats on the bus. I get the connection that he is making here, but I wonder why Sadoff wants his readers to conjure up the picture of a hospital bed. Not only does it add to the empty, numb, tone of the piece, but, to me, it means that the ‘home-team’ is winning—there are no soldiers in the hospital—and makes me wonder what about the Italian towns, the Japanese hospitals.