Hiroshima and the Children's Story

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 clash of civilisations led to severe conflicts, such as the 1945 atomic bombing of the city Hiroshima in Japan, by America. This climate of discord and anxiety permeates many compositions of the period. Two examples that demonstrate the influence of context and paradigms on literary works are ‘The Children’s Story’ by James Clavell and ‘Hiroshima’ by John Hersey. These texts have a common focus on the personal ramifications and present an intensified questioning of humanity, human beliefs and values.

The short story, ‘The Children’s Story’ by Clavell appeared in the June 1964 issue of the Reader’s Digest and was produced into a movie in 1982. Clavell was inspired to write this piece by talking to his daughter about how she had learned the Pledge of Allegiance at school, without knowing what it meant; ‘I realised how completely vulnerable my child’s mind was- any mind for that matter- under controlled circumstances’. As Clavell wrote this narrative during the Cold War era, he incorporated timeless paradigms and insinuations that were pertinent at the time. The story takes place in an American grade school classroom in the aftermath of a war, implying that America has been defeated and is occupied. The previous teacher has been replaced by an agent of the foreign power who,...