Quote 2

He was the only person making his way into the city; he met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way. The eyebrows of some were burned off and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked. Many were naked or in shreds of clothing. On some undressed bodies, the burns had made patterns—of undershirt straps and suspenders and, on the skin of some women (since white repelled the heat from the bomb and dark clothes absorbed it and conducted it to the skin), the shapes of flowers they had had on their kimonos. Many, although injured themselves, supported relatives who were worse off. Almost all had their heads bowed, looked straight ahead, were silent, and showed no expression whatsoever.

Mr. Tanimoto encounters this gruesome scene as he runs into the city in search of his wife and child in Chapter Two. This is one of a few scenes where we encounter large groups of severely injured, nameless victims of the bomb. Hersey describes the scene graphically, but he does not try to sensationalize this potentially dramatic, cinematic moment; he merely describes the tragic facts and allows the horrible details to speak for themselves. This paragraph also conveys two of the narrative’s themes—that following the tragedy, the victims helped one another as best as they could, whether or not they were injured, themselves; and that many victims showed a uniquely Japanese stoicism regarding their pain.