A Noiseless Flash: John Hersey’s ‘Hiroshima’

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There, in the tin factory, in the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.

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“A Noiseless Flash: John Hersey’s ‘Hiroshima’”

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“He felt a sudden pressure, and then splinters and pieces of board and fragments of tile fell on him. He heard no roar. (Almost no one in Hiroshima recalls hearing any noise of the bomb)”

On August 6, 1945 , a traumatic event for the citizens of Hiroshima had happened caused by the United States in hope to end the war and cut all hopes of war with Japan ever again. The bombing of Hiroshima. The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated that after five years there were perhaps 200,000 or more fatalities as a result of the bombing, while the city of Hiroshima has estimated that 237,000 people were killed directly or indirectly by the bomb’s effects, including burns, radiation sickness, and cancer.(Atomic Heritage, 2014) This Bombing has an everlasting effect on citizen of Hiroshima.

This bombing took place during the era of WWII which started in 1939 lasting until 1945. There are other significant events that took place during WWII. John Hersey traces the lives of two women, two doctors and two men telling the story of six survivors explaining how life was prior to the bombing to months after. Over 100,000 people were either injured or killed in a result of this. Imagine having difficulties finding jobs, coping with radiation poisoning and not being able to seek immediate needed medical attention. Being trapped in wreckage resulted from a deadly bomb being dropped in your city.

The 6 survivors in this book are faced with a conflict that resulted in different negative effects making it difficult for them to go on with their lives. In this book the author portrays the viewpoints of these survivors throughout the time before and after this bombing in Hiroshima took place. In the book John Hersey decided to introduce the characters; Mrs.Toshinki Sasaki, Dr. Masakazu Fujii, Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura, Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, Dr. Terefumi Sasaki, and the Reverend Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, describing how each of them were dealing with how they were affected by the atomic bombing

Before the Bomb

The night before the atomic bomb was deployed on Hiroshima it was said at midnight it was announced that over 200 thousand B-29s; which was the planes the United States used to bomb Japan, headed towards Honshu advising the citizens of Hiroshima to evacuate.The 6 survivors were responding to the initial warning that the bomb was coming differently some engaged in their daily activity and some getting prepared for a upcoming B-29 raid that was coming to Hiroshima.

Mrs.Nakumara had been misled many times because of false alarms that were let off because off bomb threats so she decided to stay at home with her 3 children rather leave and go to a safe place until they heard a more urgent siren only to see her neighbor trying to tear down his house to create a path but he was killed instantly. The effects that the atomic bombing had on the citizen of Hiroshima were fatalistic leaving them with everlasting health effects minutes after the bomb was deployed. As soon as the planes had passed, Mrs. Nakamura started back with her children. They reached home a little after two-thirty and she immediately turned on the radio, which, to her distress, was just then broadcasting a fresh warning. When she looked at the children and saw how tired they were, and when she thought of the number of trips they had made in past weeks, all to no purpose, to the East Parade Ground, she decided that despite the instructions on the radio, she simply could not face starting out all over again. Mrs Nakumara is just one example of how the 6 survivors were responding to the warning and how they were acting before the bomb was deployed.

Dr. Masakazu Fuji was another one of the 6 survivors whose whereabouts we’re described before the bomb was deployed. Dr.Fuji who had great luck during this time of disparity. Dr.Fuji got up earlier than usual to walk one of his friends to the train station then heads to his doctors office only to keep turning down patients all but two because of the chance of it being difficult to evacuate. He then sits on the porch of the office only to see a flash and then as he starts to stand the hospital gets tore down. Dr. Fujii sat down cross-legged in his underwear on the spotless matting of the porch, put on his glasses, and started reading the Osaki Asahi He liked to read the Osaka news because his wife was there. He saw the flash. To him”faced away from the center and looking at his paper”it seemed a brilliant yellow. Startled, he began to rise to his feet. In that moment (he was 1,550 yards from the center), the hospital leaned behind his rising and, with a terrible ripping noise, toppled into the river.

After the Bombing:

After the bomb was deployed on Hiroshima the life of the citizens were affected drastically. Over 80,000 citizens died and some survivors; such as the 6 survivors described in the book, in which suffered from many health effects such as Radiation Poisoning.(American History,2014) in addition to the huge number of persons who were killed or injuried so that their services in rehabilitation were not available, a panic flight of the population took place from

both cities immediately following the atomic explosion

There were Mechanical injuries, Blast injuries, burns and even Radiation Injuries; one of the most severe, that effected these citizens of Hiroshima. According to a Eyewitness, Father John A Siemes, More and more of the injured come to us. The least injured drag the more seriously wounded There are wounded soldiers, and mothers carrying burned children in their arms. From the houses of the farmers in the valley comes word: Our houses are full of wounded and dying. Can you help, at least by taking the worst cases? The wounded come from the sections at the edge of the city. They saw the bright light, their houses collapsed and buried the inmates in their rooms.

Ms. Sasaki for example, She is in her office sitting in front of a bookcase when the bomb hits and bookcase falls on top of her, crushing her leg which is one of the characters that was effected after the bomb had been set off in Hiroshima. Dr. Fujii is hurt by the blast and his hospital collapsing, , killing everyone else inside including the two patients that he had let have their appointment. Asano Park is a evacuation place that stayed intact despite the bombing where most of the survivors of the Atomic Bombing went. Mrs.Nakamuras house was destroyed but she couldn’t manage to find her children digging through all the debris and wood finding them unhurt and decides to go to Asano Park. So Mrs. Nakamura started out for Asano Park with her children and Mrs. Hataya, and she carried her rucksack of emergency clothing, a blanket, an umbrella, and a suit-case of things she had cached in her air-raid shelter.

In his book, John Hersey tells the lives of six people who survived this traumatic event that happened in there city; the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. John Hersey explains what these six survivors were doing immediately before and after this tragedy took place on that fateful day when the first atomic bomb destroyed Hiroshima. The story illustrates in depth the lives of these six survivors from the time they woke on that terrible morning until the moment when their lives were irreversibly changed in a second. Hersey’s purpose in writing this book is to demonstrate how the dropping of the atomic bomb impacted the lives of these six citizens of Hiroshima hoping that nothing of this sort was to happen again.

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A Noiseless Flash: John Hersey's 'Hiroshima'. (2019, Jul 31). Retrieved February 7, 2023 , from

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