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Key Facts

Main ideas Key Facts

full title  · Hiroshima

author  · John Hersey

type of work  · Journalistic narrative

genre  · War account

language  · English

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

tense  · Past

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.