The Mirror With A Memory Analysis

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Analysis Paper Quarter 3: The Mirror with a Memory The Mirror with a Memory was an interesting read which analyzed Jacob Riis’ photos from the 1900s during Industrial America. The author argued that Riis’ images were influential for historians and captured what was before the lens in an unbiased way that no one ever saw before. He objectively told Riis’ journey behind exposing the extreme poverty levels in New York City, New York during his time and how he fought to spark political actions to improve conditions through his photographs and writings. The article allows its readers to understand the importance and limitations of photography while showing the significance of new inventions during this era. The author makes two central claims throughout the article relating to the camera’s effect. Firstly, they say “His images…show more content…
I was flabbergasted when Riis was talking to a police officer after taking one of his pictures and causing a fire to start in the tenement: the officer said, “Why don’t you know that’s the Dirty Spoon? It caught fire six times last winter, but it wouldn’t burn. The dirt was so thick on the walls it smothered the fire” (pg. 211). I cannot imagine the filth these poor people were living in for fire to be extinguished by only dirt from the flammable walls, especially since buildings had very few, if any, codes to be met during this time. I was also intrigued when the author mentioned that “[Riis’] stories may have been vivid, but apparently not vivid enough to shock anyone to action [before he started photographing]” (pg. 206). Up until this point in time, people relied on writing and drawing alone to get their news, often resulted in exaggerated, biased, and false information so it is strange that already at this point in history, people are starting to dismiss public writings. But Riis pioneered and found a way to bring the expression “I’ll believe it when I see it” to real
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