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John Hersey

Chapter Three: Details Are Being Investigated

Chapter Two: The Fire

Chapter Three: Details Are Being Investigated, page 2

page 1 of 3

“In an emergency like this,” he said, as if he were reciting from a manual, “the first task is to help as many as possible—to save as many lives as possible. There is no hope for the heavily wounded. They will die. We can’t bother with them.”

(See Important Quotations Explained)


On the evening of August 6, a naval ship travels up and down the rivers of Hiroshima, telling people to be patient and wait for further help. It is the first official word about any aid and it brings much joy to those suffering in Asano Park.

A half-dozen priests from the Novitiate, another mission about three miles away, arrive at Asano Park with stretchers for Father LaSalle and Father Schiffer. Father Kleinsorge is almost too ill to move, but he finds a few working faucets nearby and brings water to the injured in the park. He stumbles upon a group of twenty soldiers in the woods, so terribly burned that their mouths are swollen up and their eyes melted. He promises them help that he knows will never come. Awaiting the return of the other priests, he also comforts the Kataoka children, a thirteen-year-old girl and her five-year-old brother, who believe their mother to be dead. The priests finally return at noon the next day to help Mrs. Nakamura and her children go to the Novitiate, while Kleinsorge returns to the city to file a claim with the police. The government broadcasts via the radio that they believe a new type of bomb was used in Hiroshima, but few of the survivors in Hiroshima hear the broadcast.

As Mr. Tanimoto paddles his boat along the river, he finds more and more injured people on the riverbanks and in the river itself. He helps rescue two young girls, both badly burned, who have been standing in the river shivering. One dies soon after she reaches the park. He also takes his boat to help move approximately twenty men and women who lie wounded on a sandpit, unable to move and in danger of drowning in the rising tide. Many of them are so severely burned that their skin comes off as he carries them in his hands. Unfortunately, most of his efforts are for naught. He awakens after a short rest to discover that he has not moved them high enough and that many have been carried away or drowned by the tide after all. Completely exasperated, he finally goes to a medical station on the East Parade Ground, another supposedly safe area, where he reproaches a doctor for not helping those in Asano Park. The already overburdened doctor tells him that he is helping those with less serious wounds because the heavily wounded will die anyway.

No one seems more horrified than Dr. Sasaki, who does his best to stem the rising number of corpses at the Red Cross Hospital. He works for nineteen straight hours as the number of bodies around him piles up—there is nobody to take the corpses away—then manages an hour of sleep before he is woken up again. He works straight through the next three days, and does not return home until August 8 to assure his mother that he is alive. Dr. Fujii, meanwhile, is still too hurt to help anyone but himself and lies in pain on the floor of his parents’ roofless house. Eventually he makes it to a friend’s house outside of the city, where he is visited by Father Cieslik.

Miss Sasaki lies abandoned and helpless for two days and two nights under her makeshift lean-to in the courtyard of the tin works factory. On August 8 some friends find her and tell her that her mother, father, and baby brother are all presumed dead. Finally she is taken to a series of hospitals, where she hears doctors discuss whether to amputate her leg or not. It turns out to be badly fractured but not gangrenous, and eventually she arrives at a military hospital on the island of Ninoshima.

A few days after the bombing, right about the time a second bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, the citizens of Hiroshima begin to comprehend the extent of the damage and learn the fates of their missing friends and relatives. The Nakamuras stay in the Novitiate, alive but still weak with illness. Toshio Nakamura, Mrs. Nakamura’s ten-year-old son, begins to have nightmares about his idol Hideo Osaki, who was burned alive in the factory where he worked. Soon after, Mrs. Nakamura discovers that her mother, brother, and older sister are all dead. Mr. Tanimoto is called to the aide of Mr. Tanaka, a former enemy, who lies dying in a shelter. Once a fervent hater of Christianity, the man listens to Mr. Tanimoto read a psalm to him as he dies. Amid all of the suffering, some families are reunited, including the Kataoka children and their mother.

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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!


1 out of 5 people found this helpful

I like Chicken

by ilikechicken498, June 05, 2014

chicken is so good.


1 out of 3 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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