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A tailor’s widow raising three young children on her own,
Mrs. Nakamura is caring and resourceful, as well as a dedicated
citizen. As Hersey puts it, she “had long had a habit of doing as
she was told.” She and her children survive the explosion without
any external physical harm, but she and her daughter, Myeko, later
come down with radiation sickness and suffer with it for years.
Of the six people profiled in Hiroshima, Mrs.
Nakamura is the only one in charge of a family—although some of
the male characters are married, their wives and children are not
present in the narrative—and the only person who struggles with
poverty as a direct result of the war. Perhaps because she is busy
caring for herself and her children after the bombing, as opposed
to being involved with the larger community, she never emerges as
a clearly defined character. We get a glimpse into her psyche when,
in Chapter Four, Hersey says that after hearing that they poisoned
the city, she begins to hate America even more than she did during
the war. When this rumor is later dispelled, however, she returns
to an attitude of general passivity, summing up her position regarding
the war with the expression “Shikata ga nai,” or
“It can’t be helped.”
Mrs. Nakamura’s role in the narrative seems to be that
of an ordinary victim of an extraordinary event. She suffers from -radiation
sickness and, consequently, extreme poverty, for many years—yet
she does not harbor hatred or resentment about her predicament.
She eventually manages to get a good job, and when we last see her
she is financially well off and content. Mrs. Nakamura shows us
that even after being unwilling guinea pigs in the worst act of
war in history, many citizens of Hiroshima simply continued on with
their lives as best as they could.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Hiroshima!