full title Hiroshima
author John Hersey
type of work Journalistic narrative
genre War account
time and place written United States, 1946
date of first publication August 31, 1946
publisher The New Yorker magazine; Alfred A. Knopf
narrator John Hersey, a journalist
point of view The narrator speaks in the third person, focusing on the actions of the six main characters. The narrator describes the characters’ actions and periodically gives the reader a glimpse into what they were thinking and feeling, based on his interviews with them.
tone Objective and removed; unemotional
setting (time) August 6, 1945 and the forty years following
setting (place) Hiroshima, Japan
protagonists Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Dr. Terufumi Sasaki, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Toshiko Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto
major conflict The detonation of the atomic bomb
rising action The routine wartime actions of the six main characters in the morning before the bomb drops
climax The detonation of the atomic bomb, as experienced by the six main characters
falling action The six central figures’ recovery from their injuries and reentry into daily life
themes Community survival in the face of mass destruction; Japanese stoicism and personal submission; the unnatural power of the bomb
motifs Death; chance; acceptance of life’s capriciousness; confusion and ignorance
symbols The lush new greenery; the keloids; water
foreshadowing The opening of the first chapter tells us what each character was doing in the instant before the bomb drops; we already know about the climax—the bomb’s detonation—because the book is a historical account.
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