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Hiroshima | Study Guide

John Hersey

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Hiroshima | Key Figure Analysis


Dr. Masakazu Fujii

Dr. Fujii enjoys the status and wealth his profession provides. His own pleasure is very important to him. He is badly injured in the bombing and unable to assist others, but he gradually heals. Dr. Fujii continues to experience setbacks, such as his house being destroyed by a flood, but he perseveres. He entertains American military personnel and accompanies the "Hiroshima Maidens" to New York City for plastic surgery. Upon his return to Japan, he builds an American-style house he plans to show off to American visitors. However, one night as he sleeps in the new house, he is apparently poisoned by the fumes of a gas heater. He becomes incapacitated, but he lives another 11 years in a vegetative state before finally succumbing.

Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge

Father Wilhelm Kleinsorge, a German priest serving with the Society of Jesus, is ill in the days leading up to the bombing. He is badly shaken by the bomb and receives minor injuries, but immediately goes about the business of helping others. In the years following the bombing, Father Kleinsorge suffers serious health issues from radiation sickness. He is hospitalized frequently, often for months at a time. Yet he continues to minister in both physical and spiritual ways. Father Kleinsorge becomes a Japanese citizen and changes his name to Makoto Takakura. He continues his service as a priest until he becomes too ill to do so.

Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura

Mrs. Nakamura is already struggling financially at the time of the bombing, but she is persistent in her efforts to care for herself and her children. Her husband, a tailor, was killed in the war, so she becomes responsible for the physical and financial well-being of her three young children. Following the bombing, Mrs. Nakamura and her children suffer continual bouts of nausea and fatigue. For her, this becomes a lifelong struggle. However, her attitude is one of acceptance, and she moves forward, viewing her struggles as simply her lot in life. After many years, Mrs. Nakamura finally receives some governmental assistance and is cared for by her son.

Dr. Terufumi Sasaki

Prior to the bombing, Dr. Sasaki wrestles with worry about his decision to practice without the proper permit in the area where his mother lives. Despite his idealism as a new physician, on the morning of the bombing, he decides to discontinue the unlawful practice. Dr. Sasaki is one of the few physicians not injured in the bombing. His medical skills are in high demand as nearly 10,000 victims pour into the Red Cross Hospital where he practices. He works with little to no rest to care for the wounded. Years after the bombing, a scare with lung cancer affects Dr. Sasaki greatly, and he rededicates himself to his family and to serving others.

Miss Toshiko Sasaki

Miss Sasaki, a young office worker, lives at home with her parents and siblings at the time of the bombing. Her parents die, and she is severely injured as she is buried beneath the rubble. She is rescued, but she is left alone for several days before receiving care. Miss Sasaki not only loses family members but her fiancé rejects her, presumably due to her disabilities. Her hopes of marriage are dashed. In the aftermath of the bombing, Miss Sasaki struggles with grief, loss, physical pain, permanent physical disability, and depression. Father Kleinsorge ministers to her, and she finds hope in faith. She later converts to Catholicism, becomes a nun, and serves as administrator of a home for the elderly.

Mr. Kiyoshi Tanimoto

Mr. Tanimoto is a Methodist minister who received his training in the United States. He is described as "a small man, quick to talk, laugh, and cry." He is also described as having an "old-young look, boyish and yet wise, weak and yet fiery." Mr. Tanimoto propels himself into frenzied rescue efforts immediately following the bombing. He seems to have superhuman strength as he ferries victims on a makeshift boat to what he hopes is safer ground. Following the war, Mr. Tanimoto has a vision for a peace center in Hiroshima, and he dedicates his later life to peace efforts. He travels extensively in the United States, raising funds to promote peace. However, not only is he marginalized by peace movement leaders in Japan, but he is ultimately looked upon with some suspicion as a publicity-seeker.

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