5 September 2013
The Lasting Effects of Radiation
The novel Hiroshima, by John Hersey, follows the unique tales of six war survivors living in the midst of the tragedy of the Atomic Bomb, dropped in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. Although the characters did survive the initial blast, the struggles of coping with the effects of radiation were deeply damaging, both physically and emotionally. The sudden shock, and the grueling aftermath the survivors endured is best described by John Hersey himself, who stated that “There is nothing to do but admit the tremendous power of this inhuman bomb” (Ch. 3; 63). The atomic bomb not only caused deep disturbances in daily life, but it caused commonly overlooked side effects which turned the lives of unsuspecting victims, like those in the novel, upside down.
Mrs. Nakamura, the tailor of Hiroshima’s widow, was one of the civilians who fell prey to the mysterious illness known as radiation sickness. A few weeks after the explosion, Mrs. Nakamura begun to experience some of the symptoms of radiation illness. She struggled to deal with sudden onset nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, which indicated exposure to moderate levels of radiation caused by the Atomic Bomb (“Radiation Sickness”, screen 1). Hair loss, also experienced by Mrs. Nakamura, was very common in victims of the bomb (“Damage of Radiation”, screen 2). Due to the time period it took for the body to absorb at least one unit of Gy, or gray, of radiation, symptoms did not appear till the second or third week after the disaster, leading citizens to believe they were spared from the physical harm of the bomb (“Symptoms”, screen 2). Although Mrs. Nakamura unfortunately suffered from radiation sickness for the rest of her life, she luckily did not experience some of the more severe effects, which were studied in depth by the dedicated Dr. Terufumi Sasaki.
Many of those effected by radiation began to display symptoms, and after undergoing mild treatment,...