Analyze John Hersey's Hiroshima Boston University/Wr100 Essay

1154 words - 5 pages

Justice in Journalism: How Hersey Failed to Capture Emotion in Hiroshima
John Hersey writes on the events immediately following the atomic bomb drop in his 1946 piece, Hiroshima. Hersey uses his journalist background to capture the emotion and utter confusion of the Japanese people affected by the bomb. The goal of Hiroshima was to bring light to the inhumanity of the atomic bomb. However, the events of Hiroshima are a sensitive topic to write about and are tricky to properly portray. This brings up the ethics of writing about the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima. Dwight MacDonald, an editor, writer, and critic of the time voiced his opinion on the ethics of Hersey’s Hiroshima. He described Hiroshima as “dull, relaxed, puzzling, and lacking any feelings of intensity” (MacDonald 308). Mary McCarthy, a writer and political activist, took her stance on the ethics of Hiroshima as well. McCarthy felt as if the journalistic approach taken by Hersey was not dramatic enough, and she also went on to attack The New Yorker and journalism itself (McCarthy 367). Hersey’s journalistic style and approach to recounting the events of Hiroshima is considered to be dull and inappropriate by many critics. Interviewing the survivors as well as the reporting of facts throughout Hiroshima detach the reader from the feelings of the time and sound scientific. Hersey does include main characters and each of their sufferings to help the reader connect and sympathize with the Japanese, but, Hersey’s undiscriminating tone undermines the reader to character connection. I think Hersey’s style makes his writing seem apathetic and dispassionate. This is why I believe a narrative would have been a better route in showing America the inhumanity and seriousness of the atomic bomb. Thus, Hersey’s Hiroshima does not adequately convey the emotions or turmoil experienced by the Japanese following the atomic bomb drop.
Hersey’s main characters are considered to be safe and normal in order to appeal to the American people he is writing for. Despite this relation, Hersey fails to make a deep, emotional connection between the audience and his characters because he chooses not to do a narrative. The use of multiple characters and interviewing each character diminishes the sympathizing effect on the reader and also does not do the tragic events of Hiroshima any justice. Some of the characters Hersey includes are only seen for a short amount of time. This gives the reader no time to form an emotional bond with the character, further adding to how distant and detached Hersey’s use of journalism makes the reader feel. At the end of chapter 1 in Hiroshima, Miss Sasaki loses consciousness. More specifically, “a human being was crushed by books” (Hersey 16). Hersey does not take the time to further develop Miss Sasaki’s horrific accident caused by the atomic bomb. Rather, he chooses to abruptly end the chapter and not create an emotional bond between the reader and the characters. In a...

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