Hell Without Ascription


I started reading Doctorow’s “The March” earlier this week.  In it the author follows Sherman’s epic march with 60,000 Union troops through Georgia and S and N Carolina.  The events are told through the eyes of Sherman, as well as a former slave girl as well as a doctor, just to name a few; in other words, through the eyes of men and women, blacks and whites, Union solidiers and Rebs, all of whom the reader cares for. At one place he describes the apocalyptic events, the burning and looting in South Carolina:

“There were figures on the roofs beating at the flames with blankets. He saw them silhouetted against the red sky. What hell was this? Surely not the composed Hell of the priests and nuns. Their Hell was comforting. It meant there was a Heaven. This hell, my hell, is without ascription. It is life when it can no longer tolerate itself.”


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