The overall theme of the book I read was that following the tragedy, the victims helped each other to the best of their ability. The community came together to repair itself after the tragedy. One quote I felt summarized the theme of the text was He was the only person making his way into the city; he met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way. The eyebrows of some were burned off and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked. Many were naked or in shreds of clothing. On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns-of undershirt straps and suspenders and, on the skin of some women (since white repelled the heat from the bomb and dark clothes absorbed it and conducted it to the skin), the shapes of flowers they had on their kimonos. Many, although injured themselves, supported relatives who were worse off. (pg. 29) The scene Mr. Tanimoto encounters when running into the city is frightful when he attempts to look for his wife and child. This passage shows how that even though the people were hurting, they attempted to help try and help other loved ones that were hurting more. Another passage that conveys the theme of the book is One feeling they did seem to share, however was a curious kind of elated community spirit, something like that of the Londoners after their blitz- a pride in the way they and their fellow survivors had stood up to a dreadful ordeal. (pg. 87) The people of Hiroshima came together to recover as a whole from the tragedy they endured. The tragedy in some ways brought them together. They lifted each other up in times of need and this is why the quote supports the theme. Another passage that provides meaning to the theme of the book is I shall not dwell on the past. It is as if I had been given a spare life when I survived the A-bomb. But I prefer not to look back. I shall keep moving forward. (pg. 126) Toshiko Sasaki says this at a speech she gives in honor of her twenty fifth anniversary of becoming a nun. She speaks for the community when she speaks on the new hope she has discovered years after the bombing occurred. Hiroshima is now a thriving city filled with hope. The people there have rebuilt and came together to overcome this massive tragedy.
If I was to host a discussion or book talk for the book I have selected this summer, I would have many questions for the people attending. One question I would ask is How do you think the people in the book overcame this tragedy? I feel like this would give insight on how other people felt about how they did recover. Another question I would ask is Why did some of the people feel guilty about surviving?. The last question I would ask is How did the people come together after the tragedy?.
The book Hiroshima by John Hersey should remain on the RBR Global Studies reading list. The book offers a firsthand look at what that day was like for six people. The book provides a unique point of view that is different from the political side that we see often. The book sometimes provided graphic descriptions but it offers a real glimpse on to what that day was like for so many people. Many people don’t know the impact the bomb had on Hiroshima and Japan as a whole. This book provides you with the knowledge to understand how the whole country was affected by this terrible event.
Dear John Hersey,
I enjoyed your book. It offered a new view of the bombing. Speaking of that though, what was it like to interview the survivors? It must’ve been so hard to hear the stories upon stories of grief and loss these people experienced. I don’t know if I could have handled it. I almost cried during the book a couple times. I don’t think you could’ve added anything to make it any better. It was really good. Some parts were really gruesome but I understand that you let the details speak for themselves.