Hiroshima And The Children's Story Essay

1633 words - 7 pages

Deliver a tutorial presentation on the following statement to other students about Module B: Texts and Ways of Thinking, Elective 1: After the Bomb.
Texts emerge from, respond to, critique, and shape our understanding of ways of thinking during a particular historical period, however valuing of the text depends on the reader’s context. Comment.

Texts have an intoxicating influence over how particular historical periods are understood and valued. They emerge from, respond to and critique a symbiotic relationship between the events, the ways of thinking and the paradigms that were upheld at the time. The Cold War period from 1945 to 1991 was a consequential juncture around the world. The ...view middle of the document...

The previous teacher has been replaced by an agent of the foreign power who, through seemingly innocent activities, re-educates the children to be positive towards change and to abandon their national loyalty. The text created a reaction of a chilling fear, as the readers understood the potential ramifications of foreign powers taking over educational institutions.

The 1946 issue of The New Yorker, titled ‘Hiroshima’ was dedicated exactly one year after the Hiroshima atomic bomb, so that the truth of the horrific event could be recognised. It traces the experiences of six survivors for several months. The article caused a commotion, with a response which was not entirely positive. For example, Mary McCarthy was extremely disappointed,‘‘[the article was] an insipid falsification of the truth of atomic warfare. To have done the atom bomb justice, Hersey would have had to interview the dead’’. For others, the article filled them with shame to recall the ‘whoopee spirit’ when discovering the bomb had been dropped. It lead to many official responses which ensured the novels increase in demand and the dissemination of opinions, prompting the later publication of ‘Hiroshima’ the book by Alfred Knopf. Throughout the novel, Hersey presented the atomic bombing in a dry, calm style without mediation so that the reader’s reaction would be as direct as possible, which it was. This allowed the stories to speak for themselves and the paradigms to become apparent naturally, just as the repercussions of the atomic bomb did.

‘The Children’s Story’ reveals a link between events and ways of thinking through paradigms, which in turn influence the way the text is understood. A paradigm alluded to is the fear of communism, which works in accordance with America’s terror during the Cold War period. In this text, the teacher influences the minds of the students, helping determine the ideologies and values which will prevail. She attacks the patriotic value in America by ingenuously stating to the students, ‘‘I wish I could have a piece of it [the American flag]. If it's so important, I think we should all have a piece of it’. This is one of the first endeavors of the new teacher, which thereby foregrounds the values held by Americans and privileges the subsequent fear of communism. Due to this foregrounding, readers have the ability to form an understanding of the events and ways of thinking during the period. This story therefore incorporates the BOS prescription of the experimentation with ideas and form which may reflect or challenge the ways of thinking. This is noted through the teacher’s ability to manipulate ideas and ways of thinking, as the children are influenced by the swift change into a political indoctrination, instead of a place for pure education.

‘Hiroshima’ presents a historical context and way of thinking through paradigms. A prominent example is the threat of death and the determination to survive, which was a daily struggle of the citizens...

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