Study Guide

Hiroshima Fate/Chance

By John Hersey

Fate/Chance

Whoa, maybe truth is stranger than fiction. In Hiroshima there are a surprising number of chance encounters—in fact, we'd probably find the sheer number of these events to be "too convenient to be true' if we read them in a fictional work.

In any case, the six subjects of Hiroshima seemed to have serendipitous encounters or moments of pure chance/luck—if anything is really lucky when you endure an atomic attack—in which they escape graver harm than they might have otherwise.

Questions About Fate/Chance

  1. Even though this is a real account, there are several coincidences that seem almost fictional/too incredible to be true. Why does Hersey emphasize these moments in an otherwise journalistic account?
  2. What is the book's stance toward fate? Is there one?
  3. What attitudes do the book's subjects hold about the ideas of fate and destiny? What impact do these attitudes have in our understanding of these individuals?

Chew on This

Being fatalistic leads to political disinterest/apathy—which is a super bad thing, Hersey suggests.

Hersey draws attention to chance/coincidences to emphasize the need to be proactive and not rely on fate to steer the historical boat.

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