Hiroshima

by: John Hersey

Important Quotations Explained

1. There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.

This powerful quotation, referring to Miss Sasaki’s injury after the atomic explosion, ends the first chapter of Hiroshima. The image is powerful because it juxtaposes very disparate elements. Both tin factories and books represent technologies that have become old-fashioned in the atomic age. Books are mundane and nonthreatening, whereas the force of the blast is almost beyond human comprehension. On the other hand, both books and “the atomic age” suggest human knowledge turning on human beings to destroy them. Miss Sasaki is crushed because of the misuse of scientific knowledge, and the fact that books literally fall on her and crush her symbolically underscores this idea.