Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura

A tailor’s widow living in Hiroshima. Mrs. Nakamura narrowly escapes disaster when the explosion destroys her house. She and her three children cope with illness and radiation poisoning for years after the bomb, and she faces tremendous difficulties finding work and housing in the years after the explosion.

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Dr. Terufumi Sasaki

A young surgeon at the Red Cross Hospital in Hiroshima. Dr. Sasaki treats thousands of the dying and wounded after the bomb, and eventually operates on Miss Sasaki’s fractured and infected leg. After the war, he studies radiation sickness and other effects of the bomb.

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Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge

A German Jesuit priest living in Hiroshima. Father Kleinsorge comforts many of the dying and wounded, even as he falls prey to radiation sickness. He helps Miss Sasaki recover her will to live and eventually become a nun. In the years after the war, he becomes a Japanese citizen and takes the name Father Makoto Takakura.

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Toshiko Sasaki

A young clerk who works in a tin works factory. Miss Sasaki becomes trapped in the wreckage of a factory when a bookcase crashes onto her. For weeks she receives no real medical care for her leg, which is badly fractured and infected, and she remains crippled for the rest of her life. After the war, with the guidance of Father Kleinsorge, she becomes a nun, Sister Dominique Sasaki.

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Dr. Masakazu Fujii

A physician whose clinic topples into the water when the bomb strikes. He, like other doctors in Hiroshima, is too badly injured to help anybody else. Though apparently unaffected by radiation, he falls victim to a sudden, mysterious illness years later.

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Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto

A Methodist pastor living in Hiroshima. Mr. Kiyoshi helps bring many of the nameless dying and wounded to safety as fires rage around the city. In the years following the war, he becomes a staunch peace activist and tours America giving speeches and appearing on television.

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Toshio Nakamura

The ten-year-old son of Mrs. Nakamura. Toshio has terrible dreams following the death of his friend in the explosion. He also delivers the final words of the original edition, a school report about the day the bomb dropped.

Father Schiffer and Father LaSalle

Two Jesuit priests who are badly injured in the blast and have to be evacuated, with the help of Father Kleinsorge and Mr. Tanimoto.

Father Cieslik

Another Jesuit priest who helps the others get medical attention. He also locates the mother of the Kataoka children.

Mr. Yoshida

The former head of the Nobori-cho Neighborhood Association. Mr. Yoshida once boasted that fire would never come to his neighborhood. He is pinned by the wreckage of his house but manages to free himself. His hair turns white two months later.

Mr. Tanaka

A man who hates all Christians and who accuses Mr. Tanimoto of being an American spy. Mr. Tanimoto reads Mr. Tanaka a psalm on his deathbed.

Mrs. Kamai

Mr. Tanimoto’s next-door neighbor. After the explosion, she walks around for days, clutching her dead baby in her arms and desperately pleading with Mr. Tanimoto to find her husband—a missing, presumably dead, soldier.

The Kataoka children

A young brother and sister who believe they have lost their family. They are comforted by Father Kleinsorge and Father Cieslik for weeks until they are finally reunited with their mother.

Mr. Fukai

The secretary of the diocese at the Jesuit mission. Father Kleinsorge carries Mr. Fukai out of the mission on his back, but Mr. Fukai escapes and returns to throw himself into the flames.

Father Siemes

A Jesuit priest who writes a report for the Holy See in Rome about the atomic bomb. He expresses mixed views about the morality of using such a powerful weapon.

Satsue Yoshiki

A young woman who becomes Father Kleinsorge’s cook, nurse, and close friend in the years leading up to his death.

Hiroshima Maidens

A group of young, unmarried women in Hiroshima whose faces are so badly burned from the explosion that many people, including Mr. Tanimoto, help them receive plastic surgery.

Norman Cousins

A prominent American editor. Mr. Cousins orchestrates many of Mr. Tanimoto’s speeches and appearances in America in the postwar years.

Pearl Buck

A prominent American author who befriends Mr. Tanimoto. She is the author of The Good Earth.

Koko Tanimoto

The daughter of Mr. Tanimoto. Koko is exposed to radiation as a baby during the explosion and is unable to have children when she grows up.

Shigeyuki Fujii

One of Dr. Fujii’s sons. Shigeyuki finds Dr. Fujii poisoned by gas leaking out of his heater in 1963.