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Hiroshima

Main Ideas

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.