On August 6, 1945 the nuclear weapon Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima by Enola Gay, a U.S. Air Force B-29 bomber which was designed exclusively to hold the bomb, killing an estimated 80,000 people and seriously damaging 80% of the city. In the next months, an estimated 60,000 more people died from injuries or radiation poisoning. Since 1945, several thousand more have died of illnesses caused by the bomb. It was the second such device to be detonated, the first being the successful test at the Manhattan Project's desert test site, and the first ever to be used in military action. It has been claimed that the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were major factors that led to the Japanese surrender, and the official end of World War II. In Hersey's book, Hiroshima, he works hard to bring to life what so many people could only imagine. By giving life to characters and putting them into situations during the bombings we, as readers, are able to try to put ourselves into these situations.
In chapter one we are introduced to the main characters described in Hiroshima, providing a window into the normal lives of each in the hours leading up to the explosion. For the most part the lives of the characters seem normal, like the lives we all live, but there is also a fair amount of wartime anxiety and disruption. Everyone's lives are touched by the war, even in the most indirect ways. Hersey shows how wartime hardship is woven into every character's daily existence: Mrs. Nakamura, for example, every night she has taken herself and her children to a place of protection and because of this habitual action the siren warnings have lost the importance to her. Many people, it seems, are both anxious and unconcerned at the same time. The other common facet in each character's story is the sheer confusion generated by the bombing. Many people anticipate hearing the sound of approaching planes or the warnings or the air-raid sirens, but nobody hears... [continues]
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