Character Analysis Miss Toshiko Sasaki


A clerk in the personnel department of the East Asia Tin Works, Toshiko Sasaki's life is changed forever by August 6, 1945. Her traditional sense of duty to family and her uncomplaining physical suffering are qualities that lead directly to her vocation as a nun. Ironically, the bombing may have pointed her toward this conclusion.

Family and duty seem to occupy much of Miss Sasaki's life. The morning of the bombing, she is up at 3 a.m. making food for her family and preparing provisions to be taken to her mother and brother who are both at a hospital. Even when she survives the blast, she devotes her life to raising and caring for her brother and sister. Putting her own ambitions aside, Miss Sasaki works as a bookkeeper to help pay for the huge medical bills that arise when her brother is hurt in a car accident. It is obvious that family and responsibility are the essence of Miss Sasaki's life.

After the bombing, Miss Sasaki endures loneliness and terrible pain. Even after she is rescued, she is moved from one hospital to another, has to endure varying medical opinions involving the loss of her leg, and finally is given some treatment that leaves her crippled and depressed. Eventually, she spends 14 months as a hospital patient, enduring numerous operations. When her fiancé deserts her, Miss Sasaki's attitude is not "poor me." She begins to explore other possibilities.

Perhaps because of her experience, Miss Sasaki finds her true vocation: to become a nun and help people. She especially exudes an aura of peace and calm for those who are dying, and she helps them die with tranquility. Those days, hours, and months of suffering after the bomb blast have taken their toll on her, but she has also become stronger and deeper in her faith. The comments she makes when she is honored at the end of her career sum up the attitude that has made her a survivor: One should only look forward and never back to give one's life meaning.

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