Study Guide

Hiroshima Fear

By John Hersey

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If anything can be classified under the category of "Grade A Nightmare Food," it's an atomic bomb. Hersey describes how fear factors into his subjects' behavior (and even survival) during the aftermath of the bomb; for some, it was a paralyzing, while others used it to fuel escape/rescue efforts.

Ultimately, though, what seemed to set all six of Hiroshima's characters apart was that they overcame fear to ensure their own survival—and also the survival of their families.

Questions About Fear

  1. In emphasizing the fear of his subjects, does Hersey have any trouble maintaining the book's journalistic tone?
  2. Which of the subjects finds fear mobilizing? Paralyzing? What does that say about them?
  3. Is fear a consistent theme throughout? Do references to fear change as you progress further in the narrative?

Chew on This

Fear is a positive in this book, more often than not a mobilizing force for the six subjects.

Fear is paralyzing, as it can lead to things like the indiscriminate paranoia/xenophobia that certain subjects experienced.

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