Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. Discuss the role of nature in Hiroshima. In what ways do naturally occurring events, such as the weather, affect the city in the wake of the atomic bomb?
2. Do you think Hersey favors some of the six characters, or presents some of them in a better light than others? Why or why not?
3. Discuss the role of family in Hiroshima. How do family ties relate to community ties in the book?
4. Does Hersey’s Hiroshima focus on the physical damage done to the city and its people at the expense of examining the psychological horrors faced by the victims?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. John Hersey admits to having felt both “despair and relief” when he heard that the bomb had dropped on Hiroshima, but we do not know how he felt after he researched and wrote the book. Based on information in Hiroshima, make a case for Hersey’s either being for or against the decision to drop the bomb.
2. How does Chapter Five complicate or reinforce the picture of Japanese-American relations painted in the original edition?
3. In addition to his own narration, Hersey occasionally reprints letters, essays, or memos written by or about the main characters in Hiroshima. In what ways do these writings contribute to our understanding of the story and our understanding of history?
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