Free Study Guide: Hiroshima by John Hersey - Notes / Book Summary|
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LITERATURE SUMMARY FOR HIROSHIMA BY JOHN HERSEY
Miss Sasaki was left for two days and two nights under the makeshift awning with two grossly wounded companions. She went without food or water, and her broken leg became swollen and smelly. On the third day, friends found her and told her that her mother, father, and infant brother were surely dead since the hospital where they had been staying had been demolished. Finally, some men loaded her into a truck and she was transported to a military hospital on a nearby island. Luckily, she did not have gangrene and did not require amputation, but was running a very high fever. A few days later, she was moved again to a different hospital. It was several more days before a fracture specialist finally examined her. He decided he could not set her leg so merely drained the puss.
Mrs. Nakamura and her children were evacuated to the Jesuit Novitiate
after spending the night in Asano Park. They were each given a blanket
and mosquito net, and recuperated with 50 other refugees. They had little
appetite and vomited often. Her son, Toshio, began having nightmares after
he heard that his hero, a young man named Hideo, had been burned alive
in his factory. A few days later, still sick, they moved in with Mrs.
Nakamuraís sister-in-law in a nearby town. Though weak, Mrs. Nakamura
traveled into the city to check on her relatives, and found them all dead.
She was so affected by this discovery and the damage she had seen that
she was speechless that evening. On August 15, Mrs. Nakamura heard from
her sister that the Emperor had spoken on the radio and announced Japanís
In this chapter, the reader witnesses the first installment of the Japanese governmentís inadequate response to the atomic disaster. Even considering its war-drained condition, the government fails to assist the survivors in both the first days after the bombing and the months and years of rebuilding their lives and ravaged bodies. It takes days for other cities to send in doctors, a naval ship promises help but never comes back, and the authorities withhold information about what has happened. Hiroshimaís people are largely left to fend for themselves, at least for the first few days.
The government also refuses to allow accurate information about the bomb to reach the people of the city. They are extremely secretive in the days following the disaster, so that Hiroshima does not even hear that the same bomb was dropped on Nagasaki three days later. As a result, rumors are rampant as to what kind of weapon was used. A good example of the wide-spread misinformation is how Father Cieslik tells Dr. Fujii that he heard from a Japanese newspaperman (a supposedly reliable source) that the bomb was actually magnesium powder sprayed all over the city, which exploded when it touched the power lines. Even when the people finally hear about the atomic nature of the bomb, newspaper statements about this are kept so general that people believe it no more than the rumors.
The people of Hiroshima, along with all of Japan, hear in this chapter the Emperorís voice for the first time, over the radio. This alone would be earth shattering for a Japanese, taught all their life that the Emperor is God-like and unapproachable at a human level. The Emperorís announcement of Japanís surrender, however, is even more significant, as it changes their lifeís focus instantaneously. As we see from Rev. Tanimotoís description at the end of the chapter, the Japanese people, and surely the major characters, accept the Emperorís words immediately and rededicate themselves from war efforts to peace and rebuilding efforts. This shows the Japanese peopleís utter devotion to the Emperor during the war and the power of his words on their individual lives. Mrs. Nakamuraís first reaction, when her sister tells her of Japanís surrender, is to tell her sister that she shouldnít say such foolish things, but when the sister says it was the Emperor who announced it, Mrs. Nakamura accepts it without question.
The story of Rev. Tanimoto reading a psalm to the dying Mr. Tanaka illustrates
how the bomb humbled all its victims to the same helpless state, whether
rich or poor, great or base. Mr. Tanaka, proud, wealthy and an enemy of
Rev. Tanimoto, discovers in the wake of the bomb that his former status
does nothing to gain him medical treatment. After spending all his strength
angrily searching for doctors, he concedes his impending death. At that
moment of weakness, he calls for Rev. Tanimoto to comfort him with religion.
Rev. Tanimotoís service to Mr. Tanaka shows his pastor heart and Christian
forgiveness, as well his recognition that all people deserve help when
they are in desperate condition.
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Wolff, Rachel. "TheBestNotes on Hiroshima".
. 09 May 2017