In her opening paragraphs of "Los Angeles Notebook," Joan Didion describes the Santa Ana wind as a threatening force of nature that can change the way humans behave. She conveys this view of hers through diction, selection of detail, and structure.
Didion begins talking of the Santa Ana winds and immediately gives the reader uncomfortable feelings about them. She starts off by using words such as "uneasy", "unnatural", and "tension" to describe the wind before even making note of it. These words let the reader know that what Didion is about to describe is not a good thing. Further on in the reading, Didion backs up these use of words by saying how nerves are brought to the flash point, babies fret, maids sulk, and even Didion herself had once rekindled an argument with the telephone company because of the Santa Ana. Didion's view is justified even more when she uses words as "ominously glossy", "eerie", and "surreal" to describe how the environment becomes during a Santa Ana period. These words ignite a sense of terror and let the reader know just how scary and terrifying a Santa Ana can be.
Going on, Didion had to use selection of detail in order to support the image of the hostile winds. She had to pick out specific events so the reader can truly believe what Didion is saying on how the winds change human behavior. For example, she starts off by telling of how "the Indians would throw themselves into the sea when the wind blew." That little piece there describes just how much of an affect the wind had on people's behavior even before Didion's time. Continuing, she writes of her neighbor's husband walking around with a machete, claiming he hears a trespasser or a rattlesnake. Further more, it tells how on nights of a Santa Ana "every booze party ends in a fight." Didion also speaks of how "meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands" necks.