Hiroshima by John Hersey Discussion Questions

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Hiroshima by John Hersey Discussion Questions
On August 6, 1945, Hiroshima, Japan, was destroyed by the first atom bomb ever dropped on a city. The first four chapters of the book Hiroshima, by John Hersey, are the true accounts of the bombing, told from the perspective and memories of six survivors. It was originally published in 1946.
Almost four decades after the original publication of the book, John Hersey went back to Hiroshima in search of the people whose stories he had told. His account of what he discovered about them is now the final chapter of Hiroshima.

Questions to Consider

  1. Create a list of the major characteristics of each hibakusha (bomb survivor). Which individuals, in your opinion, have the strongest personalities? Which have the weakest? For which did you have the most sympathy? Why?

  1. Describe what you think Mr. Fukai was feeling as he protested Father Kleinsorge’s valiant attempts to save him. Is there a psychological basis for his reaction? Explain.

  1. List five “miraculous” occurrences or bizarre coincidences that spared lives or had other freak effects during the bomb blast or soon thereafter. Describe how you would explain such incredible events, from either a religious or a scientific viewpoint.

  1. Select one of the six survivors and recount briefly that person’s experience. Now substitute yourself for that person. How would you have reacted differently?

  1. Hersey wrote, “A surprising number of the people of Hiroshima remained more or less indifferent about the ethics of the bomb.” Why is this so? How do you feel about it as an ethical issue?

  1. How does “The Aftermath,” which was added to Hiroshima in 1985, change your perceptions of the incident itself and the story? Does it enhance or detract from its drama?

  1. Describe the unusually close relationship between Father Takakura and Yoshikisan. Why was their relationship such a close one? Explain.

  1. What do you think Hersey’s purpose was in writing Hiroshima?

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