Hiroshima: Synopsis, Ideas, and Writing Connections

A brief synopsis of Hiroshima, an account of the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 told from the perspective of six survivors. Also included are ideas to highlight and a writing challenge.
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Ideas and Concepts to Highlight

  1. Discuss the conflicting positions of civilians and military personnel, paying particular attention to the fact that innocent civilians often "die for the cause" in war.

  2. Discuss the author's style and how it evokes sympathy.

  3. Discuss the ethics of the atomic bomb. Encourage students to express their views, and compare them to those of the characters in the book, who mostly avoided any moral discussion of the bomb.

  4. Compare the last chapter, which was added in 1985, to the first four. Discuss whether it adds to the book, by rounding out the lives of the characters, or detracts from it, by extending the drama to a 40-year versus a one-year reach.

Writing Connection: "The Controversy Over Nuclear Weapons"

During World War II, most Americans supported the dropping of the bomb. Since that time, many people have come to question the morality of using nuclear weapons. Such weapons, because of their great destructive power, can kill civilians on an unprecedented scale. Yet, the non-nuclear German bombing of Britain and the Allied bombing of many German cities also killed thousands of civilians.

For this assignment, instruct your students to reflect upon the use of nuclear weapons. Do they believe that using such weapons can ever be justifiable?

Excerpted from English Teacher's Great Books Activities Kit.

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