Hiroshima By John Hersey Character Analysis Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura

The reader feels a great deal of sympathy for Mrs. Nakamura. Her husband's death, her pity for her neighbor who is taking apart his house, and her concern for her children all paint a picture of a woman who had many troubles in her life before the bomb even fell. Until her children have adult lives of their own, her concern and duty are always to them. Her first thought when the bomb explodes is her children. Until they are evacuated from Asano Park, her first thought as they are vomiting and sick with radiation poisoning is again her children.

In the years following the bombing, Mrs. Nakamura, like Miss Sasaki, never asks "Why me?" nor complains about her lot in life. Instead, she embraces the Japanese concept, "shikatata ga-nai," which loosely is "It can't be helped." Never complaining, she struggles to survive after she loses everything, and yet she is shrewd enough to ask the advice of Father Kleinsorge when she is penniless. She does whatever she has to do (no job is too humble) to pay the bills and support her family. Despite terrible medical problems, she struggles on, living quietly, avoiding peace politics, and caring for her children until they are adults.

Despite many days of illness, Mrs. Nakamura manages to finish out her working years and retire. Like Miss Sasaki, she does not look back, but instead widens her circle of acquaintances and experiences, all the while looking toward the future.

Mrs. Nakamura symbolizes the many Japanese for whom the bombing was not personal. It was yet another huge hurdle in a difficult and uncompromising reality. While others attend peace rallies and demonstrations against the bomb, she avoids any political statements. A proud woman, she steadfastly refuses government help until "finally" she picks up a Health Book. Because her life has been very arduous both before and after the bombing, she simply wants to be left alone to live out her life in quiet dignity.

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