The Atomic Bomb: How It Protected

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Trinity, a graphic history of the first atomic bomb, is written by Jonathan Fetter-Vorm and describes the detailed process of how the atomic bomb was created and how it was used against Japan in the second World War. Theodore Van Kirk was the navigator on the plane that dropped the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima. In an interview, he was asked to describe his mission, the time leading up to it, and his perspective on dropping the bomb.

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It is seen from both authors that protecting American citizens and soldiers was the top priority, as well as ending the war. Fetter-Vorm uses the trope, protection, to argue that the bomb was the safest way to accomplish their main goal: to end the war. United States’ leaders and army generals hoped to lessen the total number of casualties from the war. Similarly, Van Kirk uses protection as his trope to argue the bomb was the best way to quickly end the war. It is important to look at how both authors utilize the trope in order to prove that using the atomic bomb was the ideal option to effectively end the war and save the lives of Americans.

In Trinity, Henry Stimson, the Secretary of War, argues that the war would become more violent if Japan was invaded, and this is significant because it shows the bomb was the better choice for ending the war. During a meeting, Stimson said, If America invades Japan, we will have to go through an even more bitter finish fight than we did in Germany (83). The general wanted to protect the soldiers that would be shipped out to Japan. Dropping the bomb meant that Japan would not have to be invaded, which also meant that there would be less American casualties. In the interview with Van Kirk, he explains that dropping the atomic bomb would save both Japanese and American lives, which is significant because this also shows that lessening the impending number of casualties was important to military leaders. Van Kirk believed that the number of casualties would have been much higher for both the United States and Japan if they had chosen to invade Japan instead of dropping the bomb. Though the bomb resulted in mass Japanese casualties, both sources illustrate that the result of an invasion would have been much worse for the countries involved.

Soldiers were depicted in Trinity as restless before their mission, as they laid awake thinking about the possibility of being seen as heroes. This is significant, because they believed they were going to end the war. They believed this was in the best interest of Americans, because they were protecting them from the Japanese. In the same way, Van Kirk describes himself and his fellow airmen as not being able to go to sleep, because they were wondering if the bomb was actually going to work. It is significant, because they wanted the atomic bomb to work in order to ultimately save lives and bring the war to an end. Both Van Kirk and the soldiers from Trinity felt this was their only option to end the war. In contrast to Trinity, Van Kirk and the others on his mission team were not thinking about being seen on television or wondering if they would be considered heroes by their neighbors. They were not looking for recognition; they just wanted to serve their country. Overall, protection was conveyed by both parties, as they wanted to end the war and save as many American lives as possible.

During the interview, Van Kirk describing how the Japanese were not good people back then is significant because it was a way of condoning killing the Japanese [7:03]. Though he did not admit it, this potentially could have been Van Kirk’s way of killing any remorse he felt from killing so many Japanese civilians. By dropping the bomb, the United States would subdue the people of Japan, thereby saving American lives. In the Trinity, General Curtis LeMay rhetorically questions if it is better to have dead Japanese or dead Americans, and this is significant because it illustrates how the safety of Americans was prioritized. He was looking out for his soldiers’ best interests, as well as those of United States citizens. Both LeMay and Van Kirk would agree that Japan was the enemy, so protecting Americans was more important than worrying about the number of casualties Japan was going to accumulate.

In the book, the Japanese had to decide if they should surrender to the United States, and this is significant because they had to think about the safety of their citizens. On the fifteenth of August, the emperor of Japan surrendered by stating, Should we continue to fight, it would not only result in an ultimate collapse of the Japanese nation, but also it would lead to the total extinction of human civilization… (131). Japanese leaders had considered the effects of continuing the war, but they recognized that the safety of their citizens was in jeopardy. They did not want their race to become extinct. In the interview, Van Kirk discussing the many casualties of war and how he knew several prisoners of war is significant, because it explains why he felt the bomb was needed. He was willing to do whatever it took to end the war. Like the Japanese, Van Kirk did not want there to be any more casualties.

In the graphic novel Trinity and the interview with Air Force navigator Theodore Van Kirk, the theme of protection through the use of the atomic bomb was displayed in various ways. It is conveyed by both sources that saving American lives and ending the war was the top priority. The atomic bomb effectively brought the war to an end, resulting in many innocent Japanese lives being taken. Fetter-Vorm uses protection to argue that the bomb was the safest way to end the war. Likewise, Van Kirk uses protection to argue that the bomb was the most effective way to end the war. Both authors utilize the trope, protection, to prove that using the atomic bomb was the best way to end the war.

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