The Violence of Atomic Bomb: John Hersey’s Hiroshima

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The novel Hiroshima, by John Hersey, is about six survivors of the first atomic bomb ever dropped on the city, Hiroshima, on August 6, 1945. The six survivors are Miss Sasaki, Dr. Fuji, Mrs. Nakamura, Father Kleinsorge, Dr. Sasaki, and Mr. Tanimoto. One character that stood out was Mrs. Nakamura. She escaped horrific disaster and strives to protect her three children during the destruction of Hiroshima. Through illness and radiation poisoning, Mrs. Nakamura faced difficulties trying to find work years after the explosion. I think Mrs. Nakamura possesses multiple personality traits. Those being positivity, caring, and courage.

Mrs. Nakamura possesses the trait positivity throughout the story because she still tried to find work after a life-changing disaster. She suffers from radiation and poverty for many years. Mrs. Nakamura was weak and destitute and began a courageous struggle, which would last for many years, to keep her children and herself alive (91). This passage shows that Mrs. Nakamura attempts to recover herself and her family from the atomic bomb. She suffers from mild radiation sickness, which makes it very hard for her to support her children. Yet, Mrs. Nakamura still manages to find a good job and become financially well off. She had her late husband’s sewing machine repaired and started to take up sewing again. She also did cleaning and laundry and washed dishes for neighbors who were somewhat better off than she was (91). Mrs. Nakamura endeavors to recuperate her life by making money to provide food for her three children. Her attitude towards the bomb was, So it can’t be helped, as said by her herself. Regardless of the result of the bomb, Mrs. Nakamura desires to improve her life, gradually. Mrs. Nakamura, made an arrangement to deliver bread for a baker named Takahashi, whose bakery was in Nobori-cho. On days when she had strength to do it, she would take orders fo bread from retail shops in her neighborhood and the next morning she would pick up the next requisite number of loaves and carry them in baskets and boxes through the streets to the stores (94). Mrs. Nakamura put a lot of hard work to find a job to make money. Although, the exhausting work provided just fifty cents a day. Mrs. Nakamura had still persevered and years later, it was Nakamura-san’s good luck, her fate (which must be accepted), to become eligible to move into a better house (94). THe house rent was about a dollar a month, and was also payable to the city government. This proves that Mrs. Nakamura stayed positive through the harsh times, persevered, and her hard, exhausting work had finally paid off.

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Another quality Mrs. Nakamura possesses is caring. Although some of the male characters were married, she was the only survivor of the six who was responsible for her family. She was also the only character to struggle through poverty. I believe that this was due to caring for herself and her children. After Mrs. Nakamura saves her three children after the bomb drops, she took the children out into the street. They had nothing on but underpants, and although the day was very hot, she worried rather confusedly about their being cold, so she went back into the wreckage and burrowed underneath and found a bundle of clothes she had packed for an emergency, and she had dressed them in pants, blouses, shoes, padded-cotton air-raid helmets, called bokuzuki, and even, irrationally, overcoats (19). This is obvious that Mrs. Nakamura cared very much about her children because she was worried if they were cold. She head back into their destructed home and dug into the debris of tiles to find clothing for her children. Mrs. Nakamura had even collected helmets and overcoats for them, even though the weather was hot. The book states that as Mrs. Nakamura struggled to get from day to day, she had no time for attitudinizing about the bomb or anything else. She was sustained, curiously, by a kind of passivity, summed up in a phrase she herself sometimes used- ‘Shikata ga-nai,’ meaning, loosely, ‘It can’t be helped’ (93). Mrs. Nakamura started to feel hate towards America after hearing that they had poisoned Hiroshima. However, she soon starts to have an accepting attitude towards the war and says that it can’t be helped. Thus, Mrs. Nakamura truly cares for her family and has understanding for the war.

The last trait that helped Mrs. Nakamura persevere in the tragedy is courage. She was a single mother with three children and a late husband. However, she still managed to protect her children without any major external physical harm. Right after the bomb drops, Mrs. Nakamura becomes buried in the debris. She had clawed herself free to find her youngest daughter Myeko crying for help. Myeko was, buried up to her breast and unable to move. As Mrs. Nakamura started frantically to claw her way toward the baby, she could see or hear nothing of her other children (9). This passage demonstrates that she, without a thought, went to help her child. As soon as she realizes that her other children were nowhere to be seen, Mrs. Nakamura starts to panic. She leaves Myeko alone, but to search for her other children, Toshio, and Yaeko. Toshio, had some freedom to move and at last she saw his head, and she hastily pulled him out of it (19). According to Toshio, he was bu9iji blown across the room and landed above his sister, Yaeko. Mrs. Nakamura cleared a hole above the child and began to pull her arm and freed her child (19). Because of Mrs. Nakamura’s quick actions, the children were filthy and bruised, but none of them had a single scratch (19). This shows that Mrs. Nakamura took charge and saved her children from suffocating under the tiles.

In conclusion, Mrs. Nakamura possesses the personality traits positivity, caring, and courage. Being a mother with a late husband and three children, Mrs. Nakamura had to protect her children from a bombing and worked extremely hard to find work to provide food. She suffers from radiation poisoning and poverty and still manages to pull her life back together and have a normal life, like how it used to be before the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Therefore, Mrs. Nakamura was able to persevere in the face of overwhelming tragedy.

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