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Hiroshima

John Hersey

Key Facts

Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions & Essay Topics

full title  · Hiroshima

author  · John Hersey

type of work  · Journalistic narrative

genre  · War account

language  · English

time and place written  · United States, 1946

date of first publication  · August 31, 1946

publisher  · The New Yorker magazine; Alfred A. Knopf

narrator  · John Hersey, a journalist

point of view · The narrator speaks in the third person, focusing on the actions of the six main characters. The narrator describes the characters’ actions and periodically gives the reader a glimpse into what they were thinking and feeling, based on his interviews with them.

tone  · Objective and removed; unemotional

tense  · Past

setting (time)  · August 6, 1945 and the forty years following

setting (place)  · Hiroshima, Japan

protagonists  · Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Toshiko Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto

major conflict  · The detonation of the atomic bomb

rising action  · The routine wartime actions of the six main characters in the morning before the bomb drops

climax  · The detonation of the atomic bomb, as experienced by the six main characters

falling action  · The six central figures’ recovery from their injuries and reentry into daily life

themes  · Community survival in the face of mass destruction; Japanese stoicism and personal submission; the unnatural power of the bomb

motifs  · Death; chance; acceptance of life’s capriciousness; confusion and ignorance

symbols  · The lush new greenery; the keloids; water

foreshadowing  · The opening of the first chapter tells us what each character was doing in the instant before the bomb drops; we already know about the climax—the bomb’s detonation—because the book is a historical account.

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OK Seriously?

by sparknoter178, December 18, 2013

Do you guys seriously think that the eyewitnesses who talked to Hersey actually thought about how they were crushed by scientific knowledge when the bomb first exploded? This book has NO hidden meaning coming from the eyewitnesses. Please don't complicate everything... Thanks!

I like Chicken

by ilikechicken498, June 05, 2014

chicken is so good.

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