page 1 of 2
The bomb had not only left the underground organs of the plants intact; it had stimulated them.
Some weeks after the explosion, three of the main characters fall victim to radiation sickness. Father Kleinsorge is walking through the city to deposit money in Hiroshima when he suddenly becomes weak and barely makes it back to the mission. Mrs. Nakamura’s hair begins to fall out, and she and her daughter become ill. At the same time, Mr. Tanimoto, weak and feverish, becomes bedridden.
Miss Sasaki is transferred to the Red Cross Hospital in Hiroshima and placed under the care of Dr. Sasaki. Dr. Sasaki notices small hemorrhages all over her bare skin, a mysterious symptom many of his patients are beginning to show. He later discovers that this is the result of her low white-blood cell count, another symptom of radiation sickness. Dr. Fujii is living at a friend’s house in nearby Fukawa and is beginning to treat patients again.
In early September, nature itself seems bent on destroying what remains of Hiroshima when heavy rains result in floods. Dr. Fujii must evacuate his friend’s house when the river floods and washes the house away—water claims Fujii’s residence just a month after his clinic fell into the river.
Radiation sickness baffles everyone well into September and afterward. In the next few months Mrs. Nakamura and Mr. Tanimoto gradually get better, but Father Kleinsorge continues to have a high fever and low blood cell count, and he is sent to a hospital in Tokyo. The doctor there predicts he will die in two weeks, but Kleinsorge lives, his blood count swinging wildly up and down and his cuts constantly reopening. He becomes a curiosity in Tokyo, and once his fever is gone and his health relatively stable, he is interviewed by curious doctors, experts, and newspaper reporters.
In Hiroshima, as Japanese physicists make observations about the blast area, Dr. Sasaki and his colleagues develop new theories about radiation sickness by observing their patients. Miss Sasaki’s infection lingers on eleven weeks after the bomb, and she remains in the hospital through November. She becomes extremely depressed, especially since her fiancé will not visit her. Father Kleinsorge, who has since returned to the city, comes to visit her in the hospital. For the next several months, Miss Sasaki seems to draw strength from the priest. By the end of April her infection is gone and she is able to walk on crutches.
One by one each of the characters, like Miss Sasaki, begins to resume some sort of a normal life. Dr. Fujii opens a new clinic and capitalizes on Japan’s new visitors by treating American patients. Father Kleinsorge and another priest commission a three-story mission house exactly like the one they had lost; Father Kleinsorge eventually becomes so busy that he falls ill again and must return to the Tokyo hospital to rest. Mr. Tanimoto attempts to restore his own church in the city, but he does not have as much money as the Jesuits. Mrs. Nakamura, when her hair has grown back, scrapes together her money and rents a small shack near the site of her old house, while putting her children back into school in Hiroshima. Dr. Sasaki, after almost never leaving the hospital building in the four months after the blast, begins to focus on his own life and marries in March.
Take a Study Break!