4. Over everything—up through the wreckage of the city, in gutters, along the riverbanks, tangled among tiles and tin roofing, climbing on charred tree trunks—was a blanket of fresh, vivid, lush, optimistic green; the verdancy rose even from the foundations of ruined houses. Weeds already hid the ashes, and wild flowers were in bloom among the city’s bones. The bomb had not only left the underground organs of the plants intact; it had stimulated them.

In Chapter Four, Miss Sasaki is brought into Hiroshima for the first time since the bombing. On the way to the hospital where she is being taken, she is amazed to see that amid all the destruction there is an unexpected display of life—lush greenery, weeds, and wildflowers in the crevices of the ruins. The inclusion of this observation provides the narrative with hope as well as a touch of irony. The most destructive device ever made by man has annihilated 100,000 people, destroyed an entire city, and changed the future of modern warfare forever—yet nature still endures and flourishes in the cracks caused by the destruction. More than merely surviving, nature seems to be taking over in a way that gives Miss Sasaki “the creeps,” as though humans have had their chance to contain it, and nature is returning to take over again. Hersey includes Miss Sasaki’s humorous observation that “it actually seemed as if a load of sickle-senna seed had been dropped along with the bomb.” In detailing one of a number of unexpected consequences of the bomb, this passage contributes to the sense that the victims are unwitting participants in a gruesome scientific experiment.