Hiroshima, A Journalistic Narrative Essay

2232 words - 9 pages

In 1945, John Hersey visited Japan on a journalistic trip sponsored by Life Magazine and the New Yorker to write about Hiroshima and its people. And, of course, the aftermath of the dropping of the Atomic Bomb. When he returned to the U.S. in 1946, the New Yorker was dedicating an entire magazine to Hersey's accounts in Hiroshima. The issue's publication on August 31, 1946, caused America to be in a near chaotic state. Selling out it's entire stock in just a few hours, the New Yorker was overwhelmed with requests for more copies. The magazine originally sold for 15 cents an issue was being scalped for 15 to 20 dollars. Even Albert Einstein, who participated in the invention of the atomic bomb, ordered an issue... Not just one issue, mind you, but one thousand. However, his order could not be filled.


Hiroshima, is a journalistic narrative, written in third person and focusing on the action of the six main characters. The setting is in Hiroshima, Japan. The story unfolds on the morning of August 6th, 1945. In the middle of the morning, the American army swoops in on the city with a bomb of an enormous power. It is so excruciatingly powerful that it manages to wipe out almost half of the population, 100,000 people (there were a total of 250,000 people living in Hiroshima). This book traces the lives of six who survived the attack. Two men of the church, two doctors, and two average women.

Character Analysis

Reverend Kiyoshi Tanimoto was educated in the United States, though he was born and raised in the town of Hiroshima. He was a community leader and the Head Pastor of the Methodist Church. He is amazingly unharmed by the explosion of the atomic bomb, and, being a kind and thoughtful man, is ashamed that he is healthy while others are dying in misery. Reverend Tanimoto uses his good fortune to aid people who were injured to safety at a small park on the outskirts of the city. He spends more time than any other character in the book giving aid to those wounded. Later in the book, it is discovered that he has been affected by radiation sickness. His vitality and energy begin to slowly deteriorate however his passion to help others does not.

Of the six profiled people in Hiroshima, Rev. Tanimoto was without a doubt the hardest to grasp and the most complex. His unrelentless hard work seems to have common -ground with traditional Japanese ideals, yet he ironically has the strongest American ties, and he is aware that those ties are continuously the cause for much suspicion. In the latter part of the book, Rev. Tanimoto is under more suspicion than foreigners. He constantly feels a drive to prove his loyalty. He, sadly, never receives the respect from his countrymen that he so badly craves.

Out of all the characters, Rev. Tanimoto undergoes the most drastic post-war makeover, as it pertains to his lifestyle. He travels through the U.S. to get funding and support for a new peace center. Hersey seems to spend the most...

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