Hiroshima | Study Guide

John Hersey

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Course Hero. "Hiroshima Study Guide." March 16, 2018. Accessed May 27, 2022. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Hiroshima/.


Course Hero, "Hiroshima Study Guide," March 16, 2018, accessed May 27, 2022, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Hiroshima/.

Hiroshima | Quotes


As Mrs. Nakamura stood watching ... everything flashed ... the reflex of a mother set her in motion.

Narrator, Chapter 1

Mrs. Nakamura had obediently taken her children to the safe area each time a warning was sounded, but at this point she and her children were tired. Having been granted permission from the leader of the neighborhood association, she remained home despite yet another alarm. This quote reflects the very human instinct of a mother attempting to protect her children.


Under what seemed to be a local dust cloud, the day grew darker and darker.

Narrator, Chapter 1

Mr. Tanimoto emerges from the rocks where he had taken cover. The dust cloud he sees causes him to think the area of devastation was limited to the area he was in. However, the realities of death and destruction are far worse than he can imagine.


In the first moment of the atomic age, a human being was crushed by books.

Narrator, Chapter 1

Miss Sasaki, a clerk at the tin factory, lay crushed by the bookcases that had fallen on her in the blast. This quote indicates the bombing of Hiroshima is more than just another attack, but is the beginning of a new kind of war—an atomic war. In an almost humorous twist, this cutting-edge weapon causes the most traditional of items—books—to injure Ms. Sasaki.


He wondered how such extensive damage could have been dealt out of a silent sky.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Mr. Tanimoto went to a place where he could get a wider view of the city. He is astonished at the devastation caused by a weapon no one heard. This contributes to the growing confusion. Citizens of Hiroshima expected to be targets, but this was bewildering. An ominous sense of mystery hung in the air, as if something more dark and sinister than a "typical" bombing had taken place.


He overtook ... burned ... people, and in his guilt he turned right and left as he hurried.

Narrator, Chapter 2

Mr. Tanimoto is running into the city to aid victims. His faith causes him to feel compassion, but his Japanese culture causes him to feel guilt that he survived when others did not.


The hurt ones were quiet ... none of the many who died did so noisily.

Narrator, Chapter 2

The silence speaks of the depth of the horror of the experience. In a horrific experience, one would expect screaming and wailing. But this was too horrible even for tears. There were no words and no emotion to express the depth of the pain of every kind being experienced. It also speaks of the bewilderment and confusion experienced by the survivors. Typical responses to death and destruction did not occur, suggesting this was a horror worse than death.


He lifted ... bodies out. ... He had to ... keep repeating to himself, 'These are human beings.'

Narrator, Chapter 3

Mr. Tanimoto continues his rescue efforts, ferrying the wounded to safer ground. This quote shows the devastating effects of the bomb, producing victims that seemed inhuman. Rescuers had to fight repulsion as they worked. The quote also serves as an explicit reminder to the reader: the victims are indeed human beings.


Most ... were too ... hurt to care that they were the ... first great experiment in ... atomic power.

Narrator, Chapter 3

On August 7 Japanese radio announced the government's belief a new type of bomb had been used. According to an announcement by the president of the United States, the new bomb was atomic. The news was lost on most victims because they were consumed with surviving. They had no frame of reference for atomic weapons, so they resorted to explanations that made sense to them.


The vice-chief ... went ... to ... where the X-ray plates were stored and found the whole stock exposed.

Narrator, Chapter 3

Rumors about the type of bomb circulated among the survivors. A sense of mystery surrounded this horrific explosion. Exposed X-rays add evidence the bomb was atypical.


What a ... blessing it is ... Tenno ... call on us and we can hear his ... voice.

Narrator, Chapter 3

The Japanese emperor communicated this to the people via loudspeaker on the day of Japan's surrender. Contrary to the responses that might be expected—shame, anger, sadness—the people considered it an honor that the emperor, who had been disgraced in defeat and had led them into this war, had spoken to them directly.


The bomb had not only left the ... organs of plants intact; it had stimulated them.

Narrator, Chapter 4

Miss Sasaki is being transported for more treatment, and though she had been told of the damage, she was "horrified and amazed" at the sight of life among the ruins. It is difficult to believe plants could take root so quickly following such devastation. This mirrors the ability of the Japanese citizens to survive and thrive, despite the death and destruction surrounding them.


She would say, 'It was war and we had to expect it.'

Narrator, Chapter 4

The narrator explains how Mrs. Nakamura speaks very matter-of-factly about the bomb. Although some held disdain for the Americans' use of such a weapon, many shared Mrs. Nakamura's indifference.


I shall not dwell on the past ... I shall keep moving forward.

Miss Toshiko Sasaki, Chapter 5

Miss Sasaki (now known as Sr. Sasaki) gives a speech at a celebration in honor of her 25th anniversary of becoming a nun. Her words reflect the hope she now has, which is in contrast to the darkness and despair she suffered after the bombing.


The anger of many ... had ... modulated toward their own government.

Narrator, Chapter 5

This quote represents a shift in thinking on the part of many Japanese. Initially, they blindly followed the emperor, feeling honored he would even speak to them. Now, they have more information, and they shift the blame from the Americans to the aggression of the Japanese government.


He and Chisa ... drew health-maintenance and ... a ... pension ... [and] lived in a snug little house.

Narrator, Chapter 5

Forty years after the bombing, Mr. Tanimoto and his wife, Chisa, live comfortably. This quote indicates the changes in governmental assistance to victims, the prosperity of the citizens, and the rebuilding of the city.

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