Hiroshima Study Guide

Hiroshima Study Guide

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This novel by John Hersey tells us the six stories of the rare survivors of Hiroshima bombardment. They are different people, not connected to each other by anything except the mere fact that they were the luckiest people who managed to survive the atomic explosion. They are two doctors, two priestesses and two women - a factory worker and a widowed seamstress. Despite each of them tells the separate story, they often overlap, because the experience of the bombardment is so similar for every character, that their tales just create the complete picture of the horrible catastrophe of Hiroshima.

The chapters are divided by the time of the actions that happen in them. The whole story covers a big period - but the first chapters are dedicated to the mere hours right before and right after the explosion. Later the pace of time becomes slower, when it comes to investigation and saving whatever can still be saved. The last, additional chapter, depicts the fates of the main characters after forty years from the day of explosion.

The book tears apart the heroic portrayal of the deed, shown to the Americans by propaganda. The real stories break hearts and show the events in the most realistic ways, from the point of view of the simple witnesses and victims, whose lives were forever shattered by the explosion. The novel immediately put the author right in the middle of the discussion about moral and ethical issues of the bombing of Hiroshima. Strangely enough, such an accurate depiction that could be a chronicle, gave birth to the whole new sci-fi genre, where the war and its atrocities are described from the point of view of an everyman who just happens to be there. Fiction or not, but the main impact of this book is the true though hard to swallow information about the events that happened in Hiroshima after the world’s most dreadful bomb was dropped on the city.

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