Du Maurier’s frequent mentions of the “east wind” evoke concerns about the spread of Communism across Western Europe and America. When “The Birds” was published in 1952, Western democracies were just beginning to see Communism (which was associated with Russia and the global East) as an existential threat to the West. When Mr. Trigg and Mrs. Trigg directly posit that Russia is responsible for the birds’ unnatural behavior, then, their speculation reflects rising Cold War paranoia about Communism being the source of anything menacing or unusual. The east wind—a force of disorder and foreboding in the story that is tied closely to the arrival of the birds—therefore represents the menacing but difficult to control seepage of Eastern ideology into Western life, and the characters regard the east wind much as they would regard overt Communist propaganda. Nat, for example, contrasts the hard “black frost that the east wind brings” with white frost that shines in the sun, suggesting the depth of the east wind's menace, and he says a “madness” had seized the birds “with the east wind.” The east wind is further described as a force that robs the world of life, “a razor” that “stripped the trees” and left them “bent and blackened.” Finally, the east wind whipped “the sea to breakers,” echoing its ability to sow violence.
The The Birds quotes below all refer to the symbol of The East Wind. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one: Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the New York Review Books edition of The Birds published in 2008.).
The timeline below shows where the symbol The East Wind appears in The Birds. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...is exceptionally cold, the sea seems wilder, and the frost has the “black look…that the east wind brings.” Nat’s son is sleeping, but his face is bloodied from the birds. Though Nat... (full context)