The Little Boy for Children: Reactions to and Representations of the Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

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Hooper, Rachel Elizabeth
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Middle Tennessee State University
The atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of the Second World War changed the world forever. There have been many studies done discussing the reasons for their dropping, reactions to the dropping, and modern interpretations of the bombs. However, all of these sources ignore a vital population that has been and continues to be affected by the atomic bombings – children. Children are vital to study because their idea of the bombs is not affected by politics or prejudice. This thesis finds that children in both Japan and the United States suffered traumatic experiences in the aftermath of the atomic bombings. However, despite this trauma, many found hope in the atomic bombings as well and used them instead as a symbol for a better future. Unfortunately, modern representations of the atomic bombings for children do not match this quality. Modern textbooks often neglect the full story of the bombings in both the United States and Japan. This could potentially be supplemented by children’s literature regarding the bombings, which does tend to show a more humanized perspective. However, this literature also falls victim to nationalistic messages and tropes surrounding the bombs in both countries. Because of these shortcomings, atomic bomb education in both the United States and Japan can be said to be lacking and requires great improvement to do justice to the stories of children who experienced the bombs firsthand.
Atomic Bomb, Atomic Literature, Hiroshima, Japan, Nagasaki, History, Asian literature, Asian studies