The texts, Hiroshima By John Hersey and JFK’s Inaugural Speech, are two texts written during the cold war period of 1945 – 1991. Both texts offer a clear insight into the many ways of thinking and paradigms represented during this period. This is achieved through both the form, linguistic techniques and the many voices heard within both texts.
When Writing Hiroshima John Hersey employed the revolutionary use of ‘New Journalism’ as a response to his context. During the cold war period many people were questioning their beliefs and governments, and wanted to hear the ‘real facts’, Hersey complied with this demand through the use of fictional techniques and the humanisation of the Japanese under the assumption that reality is subjective. It is this use of form that allows one to gain a large insight into the many different ways of thinking during this time.
When reading Hiroshima one begins to understand the various religious paradigms of the time and the way in which they thought during the cold war period. Throughout the text there is an overwhelming amount of apocalyptic religious imagery that implicitly alludes to various events in the bible. This imagery is clearly seen at many times throughout the text, particularly in; its chapter titles, “A Noiseless Flash” and “The Fire”. As well as Mr. Tanimoto’s reading of the apocalyptic Psalm 90. This intersexual reference as well as strong use of religious imagery throughout the text allows the audience to understand two ways of thinking during this time, The American/ Hersey perspective in his justification of the A-bomb and their belief that it was a ‘divine retribution’ for the Japanese as punishment for their actions against America, as well as the idea that the A-bomb was a ‘divine retribution’ not solely on japan, but on humanity itself for creating such weapons of mass destruction.
One can see a very similar way of thinking represented in JFK’s Inaugural Speech. Throughout his speech JFK emphasises that, “the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God” and that “…Here on earth God’s work must truly be our own”. It is through the form of a speech, propaganda and use of hyperbole that one can clearly see the religious way of thinking employed by JFK and the American people at this time. JFK very clearly believes that it is his duty as President of the United States to undertake the work of God. JFK, much like John Hersey presents this as justification for the bombing of Hiroshima and emphasises this way of thinking through his actions.
Another paradigm very clearly represented by John Hersey in Hiroshima is that of a political perspective, the idea that you can no longer trust any government is very much a prominent way of thinking during the cold war period. This is very clearly seen through Hersey’s implicit criticisms of both American and Japanese government. Hersey criticism of the Japanese government is most clearly seen through the title of chapter three, “details are being investigated.” And the emperor’s speech, “…We are thoroughly satisfied in such a great sacrifice” The subtle use of irony and euphemisms used in the emperors speech give the audience a clear understanding of the ways in which japan and America viewed the Japanese government. An understanding of the way in which people viewed the American government at this time is seen through Hersey’s implicit criticism in president Truman’s broadcast, “[A bomb which] no country except the United States, with its industrial know-how, its willingness to throw 2 billion gold dollars into an important wartime gamble, could possibly have developed” Hersey’s decision to use this speech which encompasses world such as, “gold dollars” and “industrial know-how” creates a sense of black humour and allows the audience to understand the way in…