Atomic Bombing Essay, Research Paper
When asked, many people can think of an event that changed their lives instantly. For example, a near death experience may lead a person to see that life is fragile and that it should be lived to the fullest. Unfortunately, sometimes these events require the loss of innocent lives. In 1945, the United States dropped nuclear bombs on the japanese cites of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor. In the years following the attack, many writings have been published in order to capture the horrid nature of this event. The two that we will look at are ?Hatsuyo Nakamura? by John Hersey, and ?Atomic Bombing of Nagasaki Told by Flight Member? by William Laurence. Hersey?s Story chronicles life after the bombing for one of the survivors while Laurence tells the story of the attack through the eyes of one of the crew members aboard one of the bomber planes. Both readings focus on the drastic events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki through the utilization of different styles while conveying two completely contrasting points of views; however, Hersey?s comes across more effectively in the end.
One of the more apparent differences is that Hersey?s ?Hatsuyo Nakamura? is written in the third person. Telling the story in the third person prevents readers from seeing things through that person?s eyes. However, it gives a clearer overview of the situation as opposed to breaking down the person?s every thought. In this case, we see the effects of the radation on Nakamura; described as being ?weak and destute? in the aftermath of the bombing. She ends up living in a wooden shack for the next few years where she would ?begin a courageous struggle? in order to ?keep her children and herself alive.? These quotes capture the very essence of her struggle and at the same time promote a feeling of empathy for Nakamura. She continues to struggle for a long time; she justifies this with the phrase, ?Shikata ga-nai?, meaning ?It can?t be helped.? In telling Nakamura?s story in the third person, Hersey conveys the true feelings and experiences of the bombing victims through a fictional character. Instead of putting out facts and figures, he creates a world in which the reader is able to become engrossed in and even at times experience vividly.
On the other hand, Laurence writes his story in the first person. Here we see the day of the attack through the eyes of a crew member aboard one of three B-29 Superforts on its way to bombing the mainland of Japan. He recalls seeing the bomb being built and describes it as, ?a thing of beauty to behold.? At this point, it has become clear that his acccount is being told from a completely different point of view. The presence of the bomb give he and his crewmates a feeling of immense power as they have no idea the magnitude of destruction they are about to bestow upon thousands of civilians. When asked if he thought the bomb would end the war, he responds, ?There is a very good chance that this one may do the trick…Its power is such that no nation canstand up against it very long.? Though seeing an event through ones eyes usually intesifies and clearifies the story, Laurence?s story comes across similar to a journal. It seems as if the crew member is simply recording the happenings throughout the day and giving his input every now and then. His account is lacking his thoughts and feelings towards his job and his mission.
The tone of ?Hatsuyo Nakamura? starts off as depressing. Hersey describes Nakamura?s kids being ?buried in the rubble? and how she ?dug them out alive.? This alone shows how devastating and tragic this was. Afterwards, she develops A-bomb syndrome due to the radiation. ?Her belly began to swell up, and she had diarrhea and so much pain she could no longer work at all.? Soon after, people who lived through the event came to be known as ?hibakusha?-meaning ?explosion-affected persons.? The tone of her overall stuggle in the story can be summed up by the quote, ?The bombing almost seemed a natural disaster ? one that had smply been her bad luck, her fate, to suffer.? Despite all her misfortune and bad luck, she works hard and raises her children the best she can. Finally at age fifty-five, ?she felt at home in her body now….it was time for her to enjoy life.? Hersey does a phenomenal job in starting off with such a sad tone and gradually working up towards a resolve, when Nakamura is finally at peace. This may not have been the case for all victims, but it is a good illustration of life after the bombing for many victims.
The tone of Laurence?s piece, on the other hand, is neither uplifting nor depressing. In fact, it can almost be seem as a normal day at work for the main character. This comes from the observation that, as mention earlier, that the crew member?s account appears as if it were more of a journal than a firsthand narration. Though he seems humbled by the power of the bomb, he speaks of the mission and carries himself in a nonchalant manner. This leads one to think that he is unconcerned of the innocent lives that are soon to be lost. He goes on to say, ?Does one feel any pity of compassion for the poor devils about to die?? ?Not when one thinks of Pearl Harbor and of the Death March on Bataan.?
The underlying theme between both stories is how differently such a horrible event can be perceived relative to who you are and where you?re from. Nakamura felt firsthand what such a destructive weapon could do. She nearly lost her family and had to live the rest of her life with the burden of radiation sickness. Before the bomb dropped, she was a civilian living her everyday life just as you and I. Laurence?s character, on the contrary, doing his job. He sees this as a step towards ending the war and nothing more.