‘Hiroshima is not merely a documentary, Hersey manages to inject into the narrative both compassion and awareness of the ultimate triumph of humanity. ’ Discuss Hiroshima from this perspective. Hiroshima is an historic depiction of a disaster that shocked the world. Utilizing the experiences of six Japanese atomic bomb survivors Hersey expresses compassion and awareness of the city’s triumph over the disaster. The narrative creates compassion by showing perseverance of common people and their journeys to overcome the tragedy.
By using the patriotism of the dying victims Hersey creates empathy and outlines the nation’s indefatigable pride, He depicts Hiroshima’s triumph as a community uniting together to help each other in a time of adversity. The narrative focuses on six bomb survivors and their accounts during and after the bomb. Using the accounts of the survivors’ Hersey is able to extract compassion to the reader. Mrs Hatsuyo Nakamura was a widowed mother of three who suffered great poverty after the bomb; she was left torn and fragile.
Suffering from radiation sickness and no means of income, Mrs Nakamura never loses hope. In an attempt to overcome her obstacles she worked countless jobs but barely earned enough to suffice. Regardless of how hard the task was physically and emotionally Mrs N was willing to do and sacrifice anything for the good of her children She earned barely enough for food… Her belly began to swell up, and she had diarrhoea and so much pain she could no longer work at all… The doctor treated Nakamura-san…to pay the doctor she was forced to sell her last valuable possession, her husband’s sewing machine.
(p119, 120). And after all the hardship she was finally able to rebuild her life slowly: She felt at home in her body now; she rested when she needed, and she had no worries about the cost of medical care…It was time for her to enjoy life. (p128). Using her experiences Hersey is able to construct an emotional bond between the reader and Mrs Nakumura by retelling the hard and miserable journey she took just to stay alive and her triumph over her sickness and poverty. Mrs Nakumara was just one of the six stories Hersey used to convey compassion to the readers of Hiroshima.
Hersey’s presentation of patriotism among dying bomb victims creates a sympathetic bond to the reader for their triumph over the devastation. After the attack on Hiroshima the survivors refused to die in vain in spite of what tragedy had hit their city. Even in the face of death, the survivors were rejoicing their heritage, dedicating their last breaths of life to their motherland and were determined keep their morale even after the devastation. One of the girls begun to sing Kimi Ga Yo, the national anthem, and others followed in chorus and died.
(p 116). As a reader it was hard to comprehend the significance of honour these people felt for their country. After the bomb, they were suffering from poverty and tragedy, yet by hearing the emperors’ voice on broadcast they were touched and gratified: … the Emperor, they cried with full tears in their eyes. ‘What a wonderful blessing it is that Tenno himself call on us and we can hear his own voice in person. We are thoroughly satisfied in such a great sacrifice …Japan started her new way. ” (p 85)
Hersey uses the patriotism of the survivors as an example of a triumph of humanity. The survivors were too proud to let the enemy take their last shred of hope their national dignity, opting to die with honour and pride. In addition to compassion, Hiroshima also raised awareness of the city’s triumph of humanity. A new sense of community and unification was present at the time of crisis; the atomic bomb left Hiroshima demolished. Hersey painted a dark and disastrous image, yet as a result, contrasted and portrayed the high points of humanity.
Father Kleinsorge, a priest of the Society of Jesus, felt that he was an outsider prior to the bomb, yet after the bomb he was filled with gratitude for the cities new found acceptance: … she came to him and said… ” These are tea leaves. Chew them, young man, and you won’t feel thirsty. ” The woman’s gentleness made Father Kleinsorge suddenly want to cry. For weeks, he had been feeling oppressed by the hatred of foreigners… (p 70). The enemies’ intention to tear the city apart emotionally and physically backfired as it left the city stronger and united.
One feeling they did seem to share… was a curious kind of elated community spirit… pride in the way they and their fellow-survivors had stood up to a dreadful ordeal(p114). Hiroshima raised awareness of the Japanese people’s indestructible spirit even when their city lay in ruins they would not be defeated and stayed strong. John Hersey’s Hiroshima gives a simple insight into one of the most devastating tragedy which creates compassion and awareness of Japans’ ultimate triumph of humanity.
Hersey was able to use the perseverance of everyday people battling the effects of the atomic bomb to create compassion. In addition to this, he was able to express the importance of national-pride felt by victims who displayed patriotism, who were prepared to die for their honour. Hersey raised awareness of how Japanese civilians were able to unite and overcome the bombs aftermath. Hiroshima is not simply a monotonous documentation of the atomic bombs effects on a city, but a representation of empathy and compassion that notifies people of Japans triumph over adversity.