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Hiroshima

John Hersey

Chapter Two: The Fire

Chapter One: A Noiseless Flash

Chapter Two: The Fire, page 2

page 1 of 2

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 had on their kimonos.

(See Important Quotations Explained)

Summary

At first Mr. Tanimoto believes that the damage is limited to the area around him, but he climbs to get a view and realizes the extent of the destruction. A cloud of smoke, dust, and heat has arisen from the center of the city, and the wind is rapidly spreading the fire. He runs toward the center of the city in a frantic search for his wife and baby daughter, seeing hundreds of severely injured and burned people traveling in the opposite direction. As he runs, he passes ruins of buildings, where he hears people cry for help from under the rubble of wrecked houses. Mr. Tanimoto is ashamed that he is not injured as well and often asks the pardon of people whom he passes. Miraculously, he finds his wife with the baby, both unhurt, while he is running through the streets.

Mrs. Nakamura digs her three children out of the rubble of her house and discovers that they are unharmed. She gathers them up and then deposits her sewing machine—her sole means of livelihood—into a cement water tank. At a neighbor’s suggestion they head for Asano Park, an estate on the outskirts of the city designated as an evacuation area, while passing many people trapped in fallen buildings.

At the mission house, Father Kleinsorge is slightly injured, but one of the other priests, Father Schiffer, is bleeding from the head and requires immediate medical attention. While some of the other priests attempt to take the man to a doctor and dig victims out from nearby houses, Father Kleinsorge collects some of his belongings. Although his quarters are in total disarray, he finds that his papier-mâché suitcase, which contains some of his important papers and money, is completely unscratched and stands upright in the doorway. Father Kleinsorge believes God saved it from the wreckage. The other priests are unable to reach a doctor because of the fire, and so the group heads for Asano Park. Mr. Fukai, the secretary of the diocese, is unwilling to leave the mission house, and Father Kleinsorge must forcefully carry him on his back along the road. Father Kleinsorge, still weakened from diarrhea, cannot carry his burden for long, and when he stumbles, Mr. Fukai runs back into the fire, never to be seen again.

Both Dr. Sasaki and Dr. Fujii survive the blast, but Dr. Fujii is hurt and his clinic has completely collapsed, killing four nurses and his only two patients. As the fire spreads, he and many others take refuge in the river. Dr. Sasaki is one of the few doctors in all of Hiroshima who have not been killed or injured. About 10,000 wounded people crowd into and outside of his hospital, which has only 600 beds. Wearing someone else’s glasses and completely confused, Dr. Sasaki works frantically to help as many of the badly wounded patients as he can. Dr. Fujii later makes his way to his parents’ house in the suburbs. He is puzzled about what weapon could have caused such destruction.

Miss Sasaki, at the tin works factory, has been severely injured—her leg is so badly broken below the knee that she believes it has been cut off. For a long time, she is pinned below the bookcase, barely conscious, until she is finally pulled from the wreckage and put under a makeshift shelter in the company of two severely injured people.

Asano Park survives the explosion relatively intact, and serves for a time as a safe haven for many of the citizens of Hiroshima, who lay suffering in silence. Many, including Mrs. Nakamura and her children, drink river water to quell their burning thirst, and they spend the rest of the day vomiting by the riverbanks as a result. The spreading fire soon threatens the park, and the overcrowding of the riverbanks forces a number of people into the river to drown. Mr. Tanimoto leads a group of volunteers, including Father Kleinsorge, to put out the fire using clothing and buckets of water. He also finds a boat and begins ferrying people who cannot move themselves. It starts to rain and the wind increases, turning into powerful whirlwinds that knock down trees.

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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!

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1 out of 5 people found this helpful

I like Chicken

by ilikechicken498, June 05, 2014

chicken is so good.

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1 out of 2 people found this helpful

Boring, Dull

by Anonomation, August 21, 2014

Really unfavorable book just like all the other summer reading books...

See all 6 readers' notes   →

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