have you not come to Asano Park? You are badly needed there.”
even looking up from his work, the doctor said in a tired voice,
“This is my station.”
“But there are many
people dying on the riverbank over there.”
first duty,” the doctor said, “is to take care of the slightly wounded.”
there are many who are heavily wounded on the riverbank?”
doctor moved to another patient. “In an emergency like this,” he
said, as if he were reciting from a manual, “the first task is to
help as many as possible—to save as many lives as possible. There
is no hope for the heavily wounded. They will die. We can’t bother
“That may be right from a medical
standpoint—” Mr. Tanimoto began, but then he looked out across the
field, where the many dead lay close and intimate with those who were
still living, and he turned away without finishing his sentence,
angry now with himself.
In this exchange in Chapter Three, Hersey
depicts the overwhelming sense of hopelessness that many of the
uninjured felt when faced with so many others’ pain and death. Mr.
Tanimoto tries to blame the doctors for not doing more to help.
However, in this scene he realizes that there are not enough doctors
to care for the thousands of injured people, and that most of the
seriously injured will simply be left to die. Hersey mentions in
Chapter Two the fact that out of 150 doctors
in Hiroshima, sixty-five were killed and most of the rest were wounded.
Out of 1,780 nurses, 1,654 were
either dead or too badly hurt to help anyone. Compounding the tragedy
of Hiroshima was this lack of medical care. Doctors and nurses were
either killed or injured, or they had no access to hospitals, medical
supplies, and resources. Many injured people could have survived
the explosion with proper treatment, but there was simply no one
to provide it. In this passage, Hersey forces us to face this fact,
and thus, other ramifications of the atom bomb explosion.