John Hersey's "Hiroshima"

Essay by spurvisJunior High, 9th gradeA+, March 2003

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Hiroshima follows the lives of six residents of Hiroshima, the moments before and days, months and years after the Atomic Blast that destroyed the city on August 6, 1945, at 8:15 am. These people vary in age, education, financial status, and employment. Employment ranges from doctors (Dr. Masakazu Fujii and Dr. Terufumi Sasaki), personnel clerk (Miss Toshiko Sasaki), a priest (Father Wilhelm), and a reverend (Mr. Kiyohi Tanimoto). The book begins moments before the blast would occur giving a brief description of the whereabouts of each of the six characters portrayed. But for chance circumstances, each character could have been at a different place at the time of the blast, thus, altering his or her life. Call it fate or just plain luck, these chosen few were spared to endure and live out their lives as hibakusha, explosion-affected persons. In the first few weeks following the explosion, a tremendous will to live and perseverance would be required of any and all survivors.

Not being sure of what exactly had occurred, it was difficult to deal with the massive number of injured and dead. Symptoms and illnesses of the hibakusha would be studied and dealt with as they occurred over many years.

As soon as the radiation levels were said to be safe in Hiroshima, people began to return to the city to begin rebuilding their lives. It would be a long, slow process, but, eventually, it would be a beautiful city with a population of more than a million. Tall modern buildings on tree-lined avenues would evolve within a city where only one in ten was a hibakusha. I believe the sentiments of almost all Hiroshima was described best by Toshiko Sasaki when she said, "I shall not dwell on the past. It is as if...