Journaling through Hersey’s “Hiroshima”

Try to paraphrase the “big picture” in your language

As the title of the book implies, the entire story was based around the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima, to end World War II. John Hersey wrote a very detailed description of the events six Japanese people went through as a result of the bombing. Hersey began introducing the six characters – Miss Toshiko Sasaki, a clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works; Dr. Masakazu Fujii, a wealthy and quite successful doctor; Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura – a woman whose husband had gone to fight in the war and eventually left her widowed; Father Wilhem Kleinsorge, a German priest in the Society of Jesus; Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, a doctor at a Red Cross hospital (not related to Miss Toshiko Sasaki); and Reverend Mr. Kryoshi Tanimoto – a pastor in the Japanese Methodist Church, who often was persecuted for his Christian beliefs.

After introducing the six characters, Hersey described what each was doing the morning of the bombing (August 6, 1945) and what their initial reaction to the bomb was. Most of the people in the story saw the flash created by the bomb, but heard no noise. A few were trapped in their place of work, their home, etc. Others had time to get in a safe position so that they would be unharmed by the blast.

In the rest of the story, Hersey gave a detailed description of what each person did after the blast. Hersey gave the picture that Hiroshima was in utter chaos. Everyone seemed to thing that only a few bombs had been dropped, and one was dropped right near them. What they didn’t realize, though, was that a single bomb did all the damage – and that single bomb did much more damage than they first imagined. Those who were uninjured took family members to hospitals. Hersey described how some of the survivors not only helped those in their family, but some (Tanimoto, Dr. Sasaki, …) helped out many others. Dr. Sasaki’s hospital was not damaged, for the most part, by the blast, and he, being uninjured, was able to help thousands of people out. Hersey wrote that Sasaki described his actions of those of a machine – he helped so many people, repeated the same procedures so many times, that he worked without thinking much.

The majority of the book was about each person’s efforts to keep themselves and/or others alive after the bomb was dropped. Hersey ended the book with an explanation of each person’s thoughts and feelings a few months after the blast, as well as their final condition – whether they recovered from “radiation sickness” if they got it; things of that sort.

Comment on the construction/organization of the selection

The introduction of the book explained that Hersey’s description of the events occurring at Hiroshima was originally published in The New Yorker on August 31, 1946, and the entire issue of the newspaper was devoted to Hersey’s story. Keeping this knowledge in the back of my mind while reading the book, I could see some similarities between the story and Rackham’s description of a cumulative-interest lead and a descriptive lead. Hersey began the book listing the six people and a brief description of where the people were – no more than a sentence for each person. Hersey then gave a more detailed description of the events leading up to that morning – what each person had done the previous night, what they did that morning, how a slight change in the time they did something (for example, boarded an earlier tram rather than a later one, one that was in the middle of Hiroshima at the time of the blast) saved their life. Hersey’s style in organizing the lead to the story got my interest quickly and easily. Hearing a brief description of each person made me want to know more about that person and what he or she did after the bomb was dropped, his or her thoughts, feelings, and opinions to the blast, how they survived, all sorts of things.

Hersey continued, giving a detailed description of everything. In the second chapter, Hersey explained how fires started all over the city and how that had an effect on how people did things – how, if they wanted to travel to another part of the city, they would often have to find a different route by which to go. Hersey explained the thoughts, feelings, and etc. of the people each day after the blast. The majority of the story actually only spanned four or five days, with the exception of the last chapter or so, which talked about the long-term effects of the bomb – the problems caused by the radiation released by the bomb and how the radiation affected each of the six main characters of the story.

In the first two chapters, Hersey had separate sections in each chapter for each character, which made it easier to follow. As the story continued, though, Hersey started placing descriptions of more than one character in each section. He wrote about how they all were from the same area of town, how they helped each other out, etc. With all the Japanese names, not only of the six people in the story, but also the names of people the six main characters helped, the story got a bit confusing at times (especially once Hersey stopped creating one section for each character). Overall, though, this was a very good book and I enjoyed the way it was organized.

What impressions do you get of the author? Why?

The main impression of the author that I got from reading the book was that he is very concerned with what went on at Hiroshima. One of the jacket covers described how Hersey was born in China and lived there for the first 11 years of his life. I think this first exposure at an early age created a compassion for oriental people in Hersey. I doubt most writers alive during World War II cared enough about the Japanese to write an entire book on the impact the dropping of the bomb had on them. I would imagine that most people alive at the time felt that the Japanese actually deserved it for what they did at Pearl Harbor. What I don’t think they realized though (since I’ve never realized this myself until now), was how bad the atomic bomb was. True, many of the people close to the location of the bomb was dropped were just completely incinerated and it happened so fast they didn’t know what hit them, but there were many others injured by the bomb that we often fail to remember. I think part of Hersey’s reason for writing this book is to show how bad the atomic bomb was and to get people to realize that it shouldn’t be used again. There was one point in the book where he mentioned the morality of dropping the bomb. I think he wants people to question the morality of killing approximately 100,000 people. I imagine that Hersey’s early exposure to the Chinese culture gave him a different view of those people in the orient and the dropping of the atomic bomb brought things down to home for him. I think he wanted to show that, even though these people are on the other side of the Pacific Ocean, that they are people too and their lives are impacted greatly by our actions. Possibly part of his intent in submitting the story to The New Yorker was to make many of the people in New York, easily one of the largest cities in the United States, realize that some action should be taken against the use of the atomic bomb.

Hersey did a great job of describing the horrors and the chaos brought about by the atomic bomb. I’ve been taught a lot about the atomic bomb, but it’s never really meant much to me. I’ve always thought of it as “we dropped a few bombs on Japan and killed a lot of people and they surrendered.” I never really considered the impact it had on their lives. Maybe it’s because I live here in America and we’re taught that those who oppose us are bad, so it was almost okay to do that because Japan bombed us at Pearl Harbor. Hersey did an exceptional job of making me think about what happened there and if I ever have any say in whether we use the atomic bomb, maybe I’ll think of things how the enemies would see it, not only how I would have normally seen it.

Discuss what is similar in your own experience

Seeing that I have never experienced anything like what the citizens of Hiroshima went through on August 6, 1945, I can’t really think of similarities between my experiences and the experiences of those in Japan. With the recent events in New York, though, I was able to understand better what those in New York went through. Although the events were nowhere near as deadly, the people who experienced the events on September 11 probably had many of the same feelings the Japanese had when we dropped the atomic bomb on them. While reading Hiroshima, I saw how the Japanese people were in confusion and chaos. Fires broke out everywhere, people were trapped in their burning houses with little time to escape, people were dying left and right, etc. Hersey’s picture of Hiroshima not only gave me a new outlook on those events, but also gave me a greater picture of the events on September 11. True, I saw all sorts of pictures and video clips, but those pictures and video clips can’t go much farther than showing the outward emotions of those who experienced the tragic events. Hersey took six citizens of Hiroshima and talked to them – got a picture of the events from people who experienced it first hand. Because of Hersey’s exceptional writing ability, he was able to portray the despair, confusion, etc people experienced after the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

Hersey’s description of went on in Japan hit home after the recent events. I saw similarities between the pictures Hersey created with his words and the pictures and videos I saw on the television the days following September 11. When the Twin Towers first went down, it was almost unbelievable. “How could something like this be happening?” – it just seemed too abnormal to be real. Maybe part of that was because I wasn’t actually there in New York. Another part was that it had no direct impact on me – I didn’t have any family in the towers when they fell. The only impact it had on me was the same impact it had on many others who weren’t directly affected by the event – it made me really think about how little control we have over what happens. God is ultimately in control and He’s the one who allowed these horrible things, as well as the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to occur.

Hersey’s writing about Hiroshima not only brought that event more down-to-life, but also made me look at the events on September 11 in a new light.

Describe one of the major characters: physical, emotional, psychological traits and examples

My favorite character in this book was Dr. Terufumi Sasaki. Dr. Sasaki was a doctor at a Red Cross hospital in Japan. At the time of the blast, Dr. Sasaki was carrying some blood through the hallways. He was near a stairwell at the end of the hallway, which had a window in it. When he saw the flash created by the explosion of the bomb, he dropped immediately to the ground. Dr. Sasaki was not injured from the explosion and was able to help many people out. I think Dr. Sasaki was my favorite character because he was the one who stayed emotionally strongest in the whole book and cared more about others than he did about himself. There wasn’t much physical description of Dr. Sasaki. Hersey described that he was 25 years old and had just completed his doctoral training. Dr. Sasaki loved helping people out – he worked at the Red Cross hospital, and a clinic in his mother’s town. We see here with this description early in the story that Dr. Sasaki isn’t self-centered. Dr. Sasaki didn’t have a permit to work at the clinic in his mother’s town, but he worked there because people needed help. He felt that the facilities there were inadequate and risked his career in medicine to work at the clinic in his mother’s town.

Dr. Sasaki was emotionally and psychologically strong. Some of the other six characters in the book had problems with depression as a result of the problem. Many seemed as if they went crazy momentarily after the bomb was dropped. Dr. Sasaki was different, though. After he saw the flash, Dr. Sasaki called for the head doctor to see that he was all right. As people streamed in the hospital, Dr. Sasaki helped out those he could. There were many injured people to tend to, but he wasn’t able to help them all. Being one of the few doctors uninjured from the blast, Dr. Sasaki relied on the help of the few who could help, to help the injured. Dr. Sasaki went for a few days, getting only a few hours of sleep. He never went crazy, he kept in his normal state – he didn’t lose his ability to help others, rather, that ability increased. Dr. Sasaki told Hersey that it was as if he became a machine – he performed his duties without much thought as to what he was doing. After going home at one point and sleeping for 17 hours, Dr. Sasaki went back to the hospital, where he continued to help people out.

I thought it was really great to see Dr. Sasaki focus on those who needed help. He seemed like the type of person who would have helped out people even if he had been injured.

Try and express how it made you feel

As I’ve mentioned in previous responses, this book made me feel a lot of things. First, I felt sympathetic toward the Japanese. Yes, they did bomb us at Pearl Harbor, but they still went through difficult times. It’s bad enough losing one family member. Many of the Japanese lost more than one family member as a result of the bomb. At the same time, they themselves were suffering. It’s difficult to imagine what it would be like to go through something like that, even after reading it. I don’t know how well I’d be able to respond to the events. As I was with the events on September 11, I would probably be mad at those who did it. Hopefully, I’d depend on God to help carry me through those difficult times, as many of those in the airplanes and Twin Towers did the day of that event.

It made me feel good seeing people help each other out. Hersey mentioned how often people would only help their family members out, but it was great seeing Dr. Sasaki and Rev. Tanimoto help others out. These men did what many people did on September 11. The firefighters went in those buildings knowing that they probably wouldn’t come out alive. It gave me a greater appreciation for the people who endured the events of September 11. I really enjoy seeing stories of how people help others out and this was a really great story and had many great examples of people helping others selflessly. This is probably one of the biggest things the book made me feel. There are so many people we see every day who are selfish. Even I’m selfish at times. People here in America are caught up with making as much money as possible, having this house and that car. People focus so much on themselves and they forget that we’re not supposed to focus on ourselves. Take, for example, Jesus. Jesus was perfect – he died on the cross for people who didn’t deserve it one bit. He didn’t have to die, but he chose to, for us. We should act in the same was he does – we should be willing to put other’s lives before ours. Jesus, when asked what the greatest commandment was, said that first was loving God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and then loving your neighbor as yourself. We’re supposed to treat people the same way we treat ourselves. That means if we were injured and we helped ourselves out, we should help others out. Dr. Sasaki, as well as many other Japanese, were perfect examples of people who placed other’s lives at a greater importance than their own. I really enjoyed the Christ-like example in the book.

Express Likes and dislikes, and explain

Although the content of this book is a bit of a difficult book to really like, I enjoyed the book. As I’ve mentioned in other responses, there were many great examples of people helping out each other. The style of the book was easy to follow, which was especially nice after reading Billy Budd recently. I generally think of older books written a while ago are more difficult to read, but this book was written in such a way that it appealed to me. I really liked all the detail that Hersey included in the book. I’m a very detailed person and, although I didn’t like how there were so many characters that made it easy to get lost, I enjoyed learning about each and every one of these characters.

I really like all the modern-day connections I was able to make between this book and things that have occurred recently. As I’ve written in previous responses, this book made me appreciate the events on September 11 a lot more than I would have otherwise.

Another thing I liked about this book is that it wasn’t very long. My last book was about 400 pages and was somewhat slow reading. I must have spent at least 10 hours reading it. This book was much, much shorter to read. It was only about 115 pages. It was much easier to read this book quickly than it was to read the previous book quickly. This book didn’t even take three hours to read. The only downfall to a shorter book, though, is that there isn’t as much to talk about in these responses as in a longer book. For my previous book, I didn’t have any trouble coming up with ideas for my responses, but now I’m starting to run out of ideas.

Another thing I liked about the book is all that it taught me. I’ve learned about Hiroshima, read about it many times, as well as about Pearl Harbor. As with slavery, the schools don’t go into great detail about events in history. My last book taught me the horrors of slavery that have only been briefly mentioned in school. This book taught me the horrors of the atomic bomb. These, too, haven’t been explained in much detail in school. We’ve been taught that the atomic bomb caused cancer and killed a lot of people, but there wasn’t a whole lot more to it than that, at least in the explanations at school. Hersey did a great job of teaching me what the atomic bomb was really like. I really liked learning more about that and many of the details of how Japanese physicists figured out where the bomb hit and other interesting facts of the sort.

Make connections between it and other things you’ve read, thought, or learned

The book obviously relates to things I’ve learned about World War II in school. One thing that they don’t teach us in school, though, is that the Japan killed many Chinese. Many times, people get politically correct and go around saying that we shouldn’t have dropped the atomic bomb on Japan because all they did was bomb us at Pearl Harbor. I doubt most people realize what all the Japanese did to the Chinese, though. I heard on the radio a few weeks after September 11 that the Japanese, not long before World War II, had attempted to invade China and had killed millions of Chinese people. If we look at the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan without looking at what Japan did to China, it does look a bit like we overdid things, using the atomic bomb. If we look at all the Japanese did to the Chinese, the events at Hiroshima and Nagasaki no longer look like overkill.

Although I mentioned in previous responses that, having read this book, I will think twice before making a judgment about using the atomic bomb, taking this information about what the Japanese did to the Chinese makes it a bit easier to justify the use of the atomic bomb. I think, though, that the use of the atomic bomb should be avoided, if at all possible. Reading this book made me realize the power of the bomb. Hersey explained that it is estimated that the bomb was 6000ºC at the center – where it was dropped. The amount of heat released by the bomb caused large drops of water to fall from the sky a while after it had fallen. It’s said that we have bombs much, much more powerful than the atomic bombs used on Japan. It’s hard to believe what that would be like, since the ones dropped on Japan were already extremely powerful. I think there are times where we could probably justify using an atomic bomb, but we definitely need to be very careful before doing something like that.

One thing I noticed in the book is that, although the people may have hated the U.S. shortly after the bombing, the people described in the book didn’t hold a grudge against us. That really surprised me, knowing that human nature would cause people to hold a grudge. Again, this shows Christ-like behavior, like I described in a previous response. God is willing to forgive our sins if we ask Him and He expects us to forgive others. The Japanese who didn’t hold a grudge against us give a great example of forgiveness.

State questions that the material left you with

There weren’t too many questions the book left me with, since most of it is of historical nature and the only questions I could have would be detailed ones. Hersey did a good job writing the book and answering most questions people would have. One thing I noticed while reading the book and thought was interesting was the knowledge people had of the bombing. Hersey explained how some of the six main characters knew that the U.S. would bomb Hiroshima soon, just as they’d bombed most of the other large, important cities in Japan. Reverend Tanimoto was the only character in the book who was really doing something protecting against a bombing. A few characters did small things – maybe went to the designated safe areas when the bomb siren went off. Tanimoto, though, was moving belongings of the church to a safe storage area at a friend’s house. He had a feeling that Hiroshima would be bombed soon and wanted to protect the items in the church. One question regarding this issue is why didn’t more people protect against a bombing? If they knew that they would be bombed soon and had an opportunity to do something about it, why didn’t they?

Also, every morning the air raid siren went off because a weather airplane flew over the city. There were many other times the air raid alarm went off, but they were always false alarms. When the plane flew over and dropped the bomb, no air raid alarm went off. Hersey mentioned that it was because it was only one plane, not an entire squadron of planes. What I wonder is if they knew they were going to be bombed, why weren’t they afraid of one plane? Even with conventional bombs, a lot of damage can be done, and why didn’t they expect more coming? Why didn’t they think that since there was one plane there would be more following?

A lot of these questions can be speculated for hours and hours, but I doubt we’ll ever know a lot of the answers to questions we have about the events at Hiroshima.

Overall, in the book, Hersey did a great job answering questions – I didn’t really come up with any because he did an exceptional job of covering all the details. He didn’t really leave much room for questions since he covered everything with such great detail.

Comment on the author’s tone

I really enjoyed Hersey’s simplistic tone. Although Hersey used lots of details to make the story what it is, he organized them and wrote them in a manner that was easy to read. Hersey used simple, common words, rather than less common words – words that would enhance a person’s vocabulary. Not having read other literature by Hersey, I don’t know if it is his style to write simply. If it isn’t, my guess why he used simple language in this story is because that is how it was told to him. Often, when people describe a terrible event that happened to them, they get shaken up and have trouble describing what happened; they can only get the details out simply. Since the six people in the story all went through a horrible experience, my guess is that all of them had trouble talking about the event. I think that Hersey wanted to make it as much as possible how one of the Japanese would have written a story about the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima.

I also noticed that Hersey uses a lot of good imagery. I was able to picture the places, things, and events Hersey wrote about as if I were there. The following example is an excerpt from the first chapter, showing Hersey’s ability to create a picture in your mind.

Mr. Tanimoto is a small man, quick to talk, laugh, and cry. He wears his black hair parted in the middle and rather long; the prominence of the frontal bones just above his eyebrows and the smallness of his mustache, mouth, and chin give him a strange, old-young look, boyish and yet wise, weak and yet fiery. He moves nervously and fast, but with a restraint which suggests that he is a cautious, thoughtful man.

While reading the book, this passage stood out at me and reminded me of the information we read in the early part of Rackham’s book. Hersey uses concrete details to describe Mr. Tanimoto. Hersey contrasts between some various features of Mr. Tanimoto – he looks young and old; boyish and wise; weak and fiery; he moves nervously and fast, but is cautious and thoughtful. When reading this, I could picture Mr. Tanimoto.

Throughout the book, there were many examples of imagery like the example shown above. This imagery gives the book a realistic touch, as the reader is able to picture things the way they are.

What matters to the author?

I think that one of Hersey’s largest concerns when writing this was writing a thought-provoking story that would require the reader to question his or her beliefs. This especially applies to those who may believe that it’s all right that we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan. I think Hersey sympathizes with the Japanese. As I mentioned in a previous response, Hersey was born in China and grew up there. He was exposed to one of many oriental cultures at an early age. I think he can relate to the Japanese better than many Americans. I think he, too, realized that and wanted to let all Americans know how terrible the atomic bomb was and try and get more people to sympathize with the Japanese. Father Siemes, a German Jesuit priest who knew Father Kliensorge, said the following and Hersey included it in the book.

Some of us consider the bomb in the same category as poison gas and were against its use on a civilian population. Others were of the opinion that in total war, as carried on in Japan, there was no difference between civilians and soldiers, and that the bomb itself was an effective force tending to end the bloodshed, warning Japan to surrender and thus to avoid total destruction. It seems logical that he who supports total war in principal cannot complain of a war against civilians. The crux of the matter is whether total war in its present for is justifiable, even when it serves a just purpose. Does it not have material and spiritual evil as its consequences which far exceed whatever good might result? When will our moralists give us a clear answer to this question?

This quote ended on the last page of the book. The quote brings up the question of the morality of the bombing. That quote stuck out in my head after reading the book. I think it’s one of Hersey’s main purposes in writing the book – making people realize that maybe using the atomic bomb isn’t the best idea.

Hersey finished up the book talking about how the horrors of the bombing weren’t actually a horror to many of the children who experienced it, but, rather, an adventure. I think that Hersey’s reason for ending the book like this is to show how some of the people who the bombing should have had the greatest effect on were completely oblivious to what actually went on. I think he’s drawing a parallel to those in the United States who were oblivious to the horrors of the bombing and trying to make people realize how bad it actually was.

Quote a certain passage that strikes a nerve and discuss it

‘Oh,’ Mrs. Nakamura said (she needed nothing more to make her give up thinking, in spite of the atomic bomb, that Japan still had a chance to win the war), ‘in that case…’

This quote describes the reaction of Mrs. Nakamura when she found out the war was over. At first – when her sister first told her the war was over – she didn’t believe it. When Mrs. Nakamura’s sister told her that she heard the Emperor announce that the war was over on the radio, Mrs. Nakamura believed.

I thought it was interesting how Mrs. Nakamura thought that Japan still had a chance at winning the war, even after they were hit with the atomic bomb. In the aftermath of such a horrible event, I don’t see how a survivor could think that Japan would still win the war. The people knew how Nagasaki had been hit also, but that didn’t stop them from believing that Japan could still win the war.

One thing I noticed throughout the book was that people and a deep faith in the government, in the Emperor – people thought it was an honor to die for the country. Hersey even mentioned how a member of the Navy committed suicide by letting himself be hit by a train. Hersey explained that the Japanese saw that as an honor – he didn’t really say why, though. Hersey also said that there were many people who would have rather died in the bombing than have continued to live, but with defeat from the U.S. There was one man that Father Kleinsorge and one of the other Jesuit priests rescued from the mission compound when it caught on fire. The man tried to resist being rescued, but was unable to. Soon after being rescued, the man ran back to the mission compound and was never seen again. It is assumed he died in the fire.

Back to Mrs. Nakamura. Although it sounds like Mrs. Nakamura believed that Japan could still win the war, I don’t think that’s what she actually believed. From the quote, it sounds like she readily believed that Japan had lost the war and she accepted it – “she needed nothing more to give up her thinking…“. I think that maybe Mrs. Nakamura had lost faith in the government. Once two cities had been bombed, and the Japanese government was unable to stop either, I think she began to see that Japan wasn’t as powerful as she had thought it was and that maybe it was all right if the U.S. won the war. Having a few small children, I think what Mrs. Nakamura wanted most was for her family to be safe. To her, in my opinion, that was more important than who ruled the country.

Free write about a character or an idea in the selection

There are a couple things I’d like to write about in this section. First of all, I thought the people had some pretty interesting ideas as to what the bomb was. Since the type of technology used in the atomic bomb had never been used before and the people had never seen it, they were amazed at it and speculated as to the cause of the bright flash and the damage. Immediately after the bomb was dropped, there were many people who thought they were the only ones hit. As people learned more, they began to think that it was a bunch of scattered bombs, since there was more damage than just the area where they were. Then, as time went on, people began thinking that gasoline had been sprinkled from an airplane and ignited on the ground. Or, maybe magnesium was dropped from a plane and the power lines ignited it. Others thought if the possibility that parachutists had landed and somehow caused the damage. I really thought it was interesting how the people came up with all these hypotheses as to how so much of the city had been destroyed all at once.

The second thing I’d like to write about for this response is the idea of wealth and how that wealth doesn’t really matter for anything. Hersey wrote about one of the men – Dr. Fujii – and explained how he was rich and hedonistic. As I mentioned in a previous response, there are many people in the United States like that too – people who always have to have the newest and most expensive car, the largest house, etc. The ironic thing is, though, that people like that can work and work for all that they want, but it can be destroyed in no time. For example, Dr. Fujii’s clinic was destroyed. Matthew 6:19 says, “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal“. There are so many people in the U.S. today who need to realize that. I think with the recent events of September 11, there are many people who have recently realized that, but there are still many who are in the dark as far as this goes. Any day, we could just die. We could die in a car accident on the way to work or school, there could be a shooting outside our house and we could get hit and die. The fact is, live is short and, in comparison to eternity, is unimportant. That’s why it is important we get our goals set straight, so we don’t waste our time on earth saving up things that won’t matter to us once we die. We need to focus on what really matters – obeying God.

Express wonder and appreciation

Because of the content of the book, it’s difficult to appreciate the events that occurred. Regardless, there are many things in the book that we can look at and say “I’m thankful that didn’t happen to me.” The only people in the U.S. who have gone through what the Japanese went through are those who experienced the tragedy on September 11, and some who have been involved in really terrible earthquakes and other natural disasters. Living in the Chicago area, we’re pretty much free from these types of events, although a tornado may come near every couple of years or so. Today, being only a week after Thanksgiving, we should still be concentrating on what we’re thankful for. The following are some things I’m thankful for that are related to the book in some way or another.

  1. I’m thankful for a house – many Japanese lost their homes in the Hiroshima bombing.
  2. I’m thankful for my family – many Japanese lost members of their family in the bombing.
  3. I’m thankful for the wealth of our nation – Mrs. Nakamura was very poor, after the bombing, she lived in an apartment with a dirt floor.
  4. I’m thankful for the freedom to follow Christ – Rev. Tanimoto was often persecuted for being a Christian in Japan.
  5. I’m thankful for a government that has the power to stop attacks, even though attackers may get away with something. Hiroshima was bombed, but the Japanese government couldn’t do anything about it.
  6. I’m thankful for the army we have so that my dad doesn’t have to go fight – in Hiroshima, Mrs. Nakamura’s husband died fighting.
  7. I’m thankful for those who have laid their lives on the line for our country and our freedom.
  8. I’m thankful for the victories God has given the U.S. over other countries in various wars – over the British in the Revolutionary war; over the Germans, Italians, and the Japanese (among others) in WWII, even currently, over the Taliban in the war on terrorism.
  9. I’m thankful for a God who is there for me when I need Him, who I can depend on and who anyone can depend on in times of trouble.

Summarize Main Ideas

The overall main idea of the story is the idea of the bombing of Hiroshima. Every detail in the book describes an immediate result of the bombing, which is a result of World War II. One major theme I think that Hersey includes in the book is the morality of the bombing. I’ve discussed the morality in other responses and Hersey’s view on that. There aren’t really a lot of other main ideas. You could say, though, that survival is a major theme. Each of the six people must do his or her part to survive the bombing and help his/her family and/or other people survive the blast. It’s almost like the television show, Survival, but, rather than a scenario, the people in Japan had to survive in real life. It wasn’t about who was going to win the money, but who would be able to support themselves and keep themselves alive. Those who weren’t injured played huge roles in the survival of others. Dr. Sasaki, as I discussed in a previous response, helped out thousands of people at the Red Cross Hospital. All the other doctors who were able to help others did so. Just as firefighters and rescue workers from all over the United States helped out on September 11 and the days following, so able Japanese helped out the injured. Just as the country united after the tragedy on September 11, so the Japanese united to help each other out and pull each other through after their cities were bombed. The only main difference was that in the U.S., the entire country united. In Japan, it was mostly just the people in the city who united, although some outside help was given. The bombing didn’t make people’s spirits in Japan go up, most people were devastated. In the United States, though, the President has done an extraordinary job of uniting the country in the wake of the tragic events on September 11.

Another theme evident in the book, as shown by the uniting of the people, is the unselfishness of people in times of trouble. It seems to me that when people are truly in need, there is someone to step up for them and help them out. In Japan, the doctors and many religious workers stood up and helped – they did what they could. In New York, it was the rescue workers who united. Rescue workers from all over the country went to New York to offer their services.

As a close to these responses, many times, bad things occur to us and we don’t know why. God says that He works EVERYTHING together for good and we have to trust that he will do that. Look at how the country has united and how we’ve become stronger because of the tragedy on September 11.