Luke Huelsenbeck Mrs. Davis AP Language and Composition September 28, 2007 Hiroshima Rhetoric Hiroshima, by John Hersey, is a terrifying account of six survivors stories during and after the bombing of Hiroshima, Japan. Throughout the story, Hersey employs several kinds of rhetoric in order to appeal to the passion and understanding of the reader. These accounts are the first coming from the Japanese side of the war, leaving Hersey the difficult task of appealing to Americans, as fellow human beings, to see the death and destruction that occurred in Hiroshima. Of the many rhetorical devices used, personification and assonance stand out in Hersey’s writing as major forces accentuated by the purpose in Hiroshima. In chapter two, titled The Fire, Hersey describes the actions taken by all six surviving victims directly after the detonation of the then unknown atomic bomb. Havoc is spreading throughout the city as some citizens are mortally wounded, and others are trying to aid them as quickly as possible. At this time, rubble starts to catch fire and Hersey gives this fire a satanic and very antagonistic essence, as it spreads and endangers the thousands of wounded people. “New fires were leaping up, and they spread quickly, and in a very short time terrible blasts of hot air…made it impossible to stand on the bridge anymore” (24). Hersey gives a sense that the fire is now trying to trap and catch all of the bomb victims, as it slowly builds and dances around their wrecked homes. He uses the liveliness of the fire to show the destructive power and deadliness of the after shock of the bomb. “…he freed himself and ran down the alleys of Nobori-cho, hemmed in by the fire he had said would never come” (34). The fire seems enraged by the people doubting it, and seeks revenge by trapping and attempting to kill them. Hersey’s personification of fire helps him describe the struggle that the victims of Hiroshima had to deal with. Hersey also describes the horror and treacheries with well-depicted images of mortally wounded and grotesquely injured people. He uses assonance to draw out a sense of pain and misery to the reader. “Dr. Sasaki, who had believed the enemy had hit only the building he was in, got bandages, and began to bind the wounds of those inside the hospital” (15). The repetition of “b” brings out the sentence and aids the reader in comprehending the quick reaction and dutifulness of Dr. Sasaki. It also highlights the sentence, and makes the reader truly realize how much work was ahead of the whole country of Japan in helping the victims. “Mr. Tanimoto sent some to look for buckets and basins and told others to beat the burning underbrush with their clothes” (37). Hersey uses assonance yet again in order to emphasize the importance of the sentence. The sentence describes what work must be done by all of the survivors and the struggles that lie ahead for both the injured victims and the ones helping them. Hersey’s purpose forces him to use assonance in order to highlight sentences to reveal important events that are either occurring or about to occur. Hiroshima’s purpose helps accentuate the use of the rhetorical devices of personification and assonance. Although others are used, personification and assonance are emphasized by Hersey’s central purpose of describing the destruction and shear terror that existed in Hiroshima during and after the bombing. Hersey’s use of rhetorical devices also, conversely, helped him describe and get his purpose across to the reader. By using rhetoric, he accomplished many fantastic descriptions, and helped the reader truly comprehend the devastation and awfulness of the bombing of Hiroshima.
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