Study Guide

Hiroshima Death

By John Hersey

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Huh—death is a huge theme in a book about the bombing of Hiroshima? Who'd have thunk it? Oh yeah: everyone.

Even thought the six survivors at the heart of Hiroshima were, you know, survivors, they were often forced to confront death on a personal level as well as on a massive scale. The city was littered with the dead and dying. In discussing the subjects' confrontations with death, Hersey delves into their personal/spiritual attitudes about that idea—and also discusses traditional Japanese beliefs regarding death and the dead.

Questions About Death

  1. How do the subjects' attitudes/thoughts about death shape your understanding of them?
  2. Hersey draws attention to the Japanese attitude toward death. What is it, and why is it important?
  3. Are there worse things than death? If so, what?

Chew on This

Suffering is portrayed as far worse than death.

Hersey portrays death in a very matter of fact and not melodramatic way, in keeping with Japanese attitude about death.

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