Sunday, January 27, 2008

John Hersey's Hiroshima: Graphic Adaptation of Mrs. Nakamura's Experience (Emily Morris)


(Note: I have included a text transcript for each panel; however, if you wish, you may click onto to each page, and you will load a large and readable version of each page.)

Page One (Above)

Panel 1:

(Home of Mrs. Nakamura, widowed mother of three; 3/4 of a mile from center:)

MRS. NAKAMURA (Thinking.): Tearing his house down. What a shame--Soon he will have nowhere to live.

Panel 2:

AIR DRILL: Warning! Warning! Warning!

Panel 3:

MRS. NAKAMURA (Thinking about the night before, when she and her children had fled to Asano Park): Everyone is so tired. Maybe I can let them sleep this time.

Panel 4:

(Mrs. Hatsuyo Nakamura chose not to wake her three children that morning. They have been to the shelter many times in the past few days, and they were tired. It may have been this decision that saved their lives.)

Panel 5:

(Center Hiroshima during the explosion.)

Panel 6:

CRASH! Boom!


Panel 7:

TOSHIO: Mama, I'm scared.


YAEKO: (Sobbing.)

MRS. NAKAMURA: Hush, darlings! I don't know what happened--I think we need to get to safety, then ask questions. Don't cry--it'll be okay soon.

Panel 8:

(Before leaving for Asano Park, MRS. NAKAMURA chose to keep her only source of income safe. Her husband's old sewing machine was how she provided for her family. When this was all over, she would need to make money to feed her children.)

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Thinking as she tosses her sewing machine into the Water Reserve Tank.) This should be safe in here.

Page Two (Above)

Panel 1:

(Many neighborhoods had safe areas they were to retreat to if there was a bombing. MRS. NAKAMURA followed a neighbor through the wreckage of her community to Asano Park, outside of town.)

Welcome Asano Park

Panel 2:

MYEKO: I am so thirsty.

MRS. NAKAMURA: Here, sweetie, drink this.

YAEKO: I don't feel so good, Mama.

Panel 3:

(After drinking from the river, MRS NAKAMURA and her children became very ill and spent the next few days with stomach sickness. As they lay ill, many in the park lay dead or dying. Some seemed healthy one day and perished the next. The scene was horrific and no help ever came. MRS. NAKAMURA had to make a decision to move her children away from the park to a nearby shelter.)

Panel 4:

(Six days later [the Nakamuras] left the shelter [Novitiate] to stay with her sister-in-law.)

Panel 5:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Crying.) I am so ashamed. I can not go anywhere looking like this. My hair is gone. I am a Bald Dreadful woman. UGLY! I am ugly. BALD!

Panel 6:

(MRS. NAKAMURA lost all her hair due to nuclear radiation exposure. Her youngest daughter had a cut on her arm that took months to heal. MRS. NAKAMURA could not afford a doctor's visit so they waited their sickness out and soon MRS. NAKAMURA was planning for their future. She had sent her brother to her old house to retrieve the sewing machine she had stored in the water tank. When he returned it was with bad news.)

Panel 7:

MRS. NAKAMURA: It's useless--This will never work again! It has completely rusted! What am I going to do now?

Panel 8:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Thinking.) Please, God. Give me strength. I need money desperately. Please?

Panel 9:

BANK CLERK: (Handing money to MRS. NAKAMURA.) MRS. NAKAMURA, this is how much the bank has for you. Have a nice day.

Panel 10:

(At the Machine Repair shop.)

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Crying.) How much is this [sewing machine] worth?

OWNER OF SHOP: It's junk--all rust!

MRS. NAKAMURA (Still crying.) Please--whatever you can give me.

Panel 11:

(After selling everything she owned, MRS. NAKAMURA moved her family into a small wooden shack, their new home in Hiroshima. MRS. NAKAMURA scavenged for supplies and did all she could to provide for her family.)

Page Three (Above)

Panel 1:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Thinking.) This has all been my bad luck. My fate, that I must accept. This suffering is my test of faith. I must survive. My children rely on me and only me.

Panel 2:

RADIO: ...Hiroshima Survivors, also known as Hibakusha... This just in. Our Government has just passed a new program providing health care options to all of our survivors...Please report to your closest agency to receive your card...

Panel 3:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Handing someone a loaf of bread.) Your fresh loaf, Ma'am.

Panel 4:

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Handing someone a newspaper.) Your daily news, Sir.

Panel 5:

(Factory work: Moth ball belt)

MRS. NAKAMURA: (Holding a bowl of moth balls.) All good...Sir.

Panel 6:

(Although the Japanese Government provided assistance for their survivors, MRS. NAKAMURA's pride prohibited her from accepting any assistance for many years. She held many low paying jobs just to pay for food and rent. The long term effects of radiation made her have to take frequent resting periods throughout the day. In 1951 her family moved to a better home and she continued working at the Moth Ball factory until she retired.)

Panel 7:

(MRS. NAKAMURA's luck began to change. Life continued to happen. Things were changing all around her. The town eventually got rebuilt. MRS. NAKAMURA watched her children grow up. Eventually she began to accept Governmental services like health care and pension plans. It is noted that MRS. NAKAMURA completed her life one day at a time.)

(Her son got married...)



(MRS. NAKAMURA danced in a festival.)

Panel 8:

The End.


Emily Morris: I chose to pick only one of the main characters from John Hersey’s [account] and complete a graphic version of that [survivor’s] experience during the bomb drop on Hiroshima. The graphic version will be from the point of view of that [survivor] (first person) and contain only pertinent information to tell her story. The graphics will be selected based on the main events that tell the story of that [survivor] and the feelings or emotions that [she] must have felt during the bombing of Hiroshima and the aftermath. While I am aware that the [survivor] is Japanese and does not speak or even think in the same English context, I will need to summarize what I believe [she] felt in my terms.

Reflecting on the process. After completing the graphic representation of Mrs. Nakamura’s experience of the bombing of Hiroshima I feel a little less confident in my execution. It was difficult depicting everything in a graphic square without going overboard with pictures. I believe I chose the main events that Mrs. Nakamura went through; however, there were a few circumstances where I had to write a brief paragraph to place the readers where I needed them to be. This was a strip that spanned over many years; a lot of middle ground was tossed aside to illustrate only what was important. I’m not 100% positive that the reader would be able to pick up this graphic strip and know what really happened. Reading the stories of the Hibakusha (survivors) through a non-fiction account seems to me to be the best way to tell their stories.

I still enjoyed the challenge of completing this journal in a graphic version. It may not be perfect, but it was a good experience. I know now that I will not follow a career as a comic book artist.


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2007

Posted with author's permission.

What is Fail-Safe? (a Poem by Samantha Colandrea)

What does "fail-safe" even stand for?
To make sure everything goes right?
Is it to make sure in the worst situation?
That the plane will still take flight?
It began when a plane was spotted from Europe
The SAC declared it as a possible threat
But they are not allowed to proceed without orders
So they left it alone without fret
The SAC declared for an attack code
They created a bomber group made up of six
The orders are misunderstood because of the radar
And now it is too late for a fix
The thought of nuclear war
Causes Colonel to send out the crew
The six flights go toward Moscow
He did not know what else to do
Groteschele makes the suggestion
That the U.S. should begin
An attack to make the Soviets
Surrender and give in.
They made the attack look accidental
This was actually pretty cruel
Except they didn't think it through
And ran out of gas and fuel.

All six flights went down
And landed them in the sea
The pilots were all dead
And the other plane went free.

The Soviets make an agreement
With the President of the U.S.
They decline his request at first
But ended up saying yes.

The air defense shoots down two
Of the six planes unarmed
But the sixth plane should be left alone
Because it will do no harm.

Because of another disagreement
The sixth plane gets attacked
This was a mistake
That they weren't able to take back.

The President tries to tell Grady
That there is no war going on
Grady doesn't believe him
And sees it as a con.

They sent a plane to Moscow
To destroy the city for the "good"
Except this causes a bombing on New York
The Soviets would do what they could.

The moral of these attacks
Is that war is not worth fighting
It causes all the authorities to argue
When we all should be uniting.

(Samantha Colandrea responded to the book and film Fail-Safe by writing a poem about it.)


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2007

Published with author's permission.

J. Alfred Prufrock and His Women, A Character Study (Emily Morris)

Night time has ascended and a tall figure walks down a dark alley, the only visible light coming from small neon signs protruding from brick buildings like rainbows in the night sky. With the strong gusts of wind the sound of distant traffic and a few bums discussing politics on the corner blow through the alley. The smell of burnt garbage and urine stagnate in the air like a never lifting fog. This man walks with a quick pace and holds his chin tucked close to his chest, only lifting his eyes to read the signs as he passes through. There is a chill in his bones as with the darkness came the cold. He is a familiar sight in this alley coming here for the comfort he cannot achieve on the main streets of town. His mind races with fleeting thoughts of honesty and integrity, but his body continues to press him on through the night to find solace in the arms of his next lover.

As he approaches the familiar threshold he peers through the unstained portions of glass in the window pains. There is a warming sensation in his groin as he observes the ladies laughing with each other over a game of spades in the parlor. The brunette on the right laughs joyously as she apparently won the last hand. He watches her as her hair flows with the motion of her alabaster neck, laying softly on the bare shoulders and tickling her back. This one he knows as Sophia, she speaks with a soft accent of somewhere exotic a low sultry voice that pleases his ears. He has had her company many times and enjoys her immensely.

He enters the house that will shelter his aging bones for the evening. Cigarette smoke attempts to escape through the open door as the chilled October air threatens to follow him in. He hands his coat and hat over to the Madame of the house, her name is Chelsea and she is an everlasting beauty, with grace and money. Chelsea trains these girls in the house on how to be ladies to the men that come here, how to speak politely and listen with care when they choose to discuss their days. She teaches them the art of seduction that will warm the coldest heart. She shows them how to be tigresses in bed and how to make a polite exit when morning comes. Chelsea recognizes the man with a familiar smile and with one swift motion extends her hand for a greeting. He brushes his lips on the back of her hand and responds with a greeting regarding the change of seasons. Chelsea offers his most preferred drink and he accepts with a nod.

The man, once again locked onto Sophia approaches her as she deals the deck of cards to the ladies around the table. The arrangement for her company is made and Sophia excuses herself from the card table and locks her arm into the crook of his elbow they are approached by Chelsea bearing his drink, cheap gin and soda water with a wedge of lime hanging to the side of the glass. Chelsea approves the transaction and the two lovers ascend the stairs to the room where they will be spending the evening.

The man selects an overstuffed wing chair and props his feet on the stool set in front of it. Sophia moves across the room lighting candles for ambiance. He stares at his glass, swirls the ice around and takes another sip. Sophia moves toward him, locking his eyes with her sultry gaze as she moves closer, he can smell her perfume. She smells of exotic flowers and clean linen. Sophia bends down, exposing the crest of her breasts tucked tightly into her bodice. She loosens his laces and removes each shoe placing them side-by-side on the floor. Sophia moves to straddle the stool placing his feet in her lap. With her thumb she rubs circles into the soles of his feet. She politely asks him "What miraculous things did you accomplish today?" He returns his gaze to his glass and returns her question with a soft voice he says, "there will be time to discuss these things, now is not the time." Choosing silence instead of conversation Sophia continues rubbing his feet and humming a soft tune.

Sophia’s hands move up from his feet and begin a soft caress to the inside of his legs. Still maintaining silence he locks her gaze with his and enjoys the feeling of her womanly touch. Conflicting thoughts race through his mind. He accepts her touch, he craves what comes next, but how on earth can he continue to act this way. He recognizes his true age; he knows the inevitable truth of age. He has begun the downward step to death. His hair is thinning; his forehead shows the wrinkles where years of stern concentration and heated arguments have crossed his face. His eyes have lost luster and his teeth are yellow now from years of combating stress with tobacco.

The night progresses as usual, the physical desire quenched in a bed of tossed sheets and the smell of sweat. The sun has begun to rise; through the cracks in the window shade he can see the gray shades of morning. In all the years of coming here he does not speak to these women. How can he explain what he does during the day, when the light of the sun graces the sky, he is not the same man laying in this whore’s bed now. If they ever ask why he never took a bride, how can he explain the tragedy of loosing the only person he ever truly loved. How can he speak to these women, and why should he.

Through all the years of coming here he has known these women he has loved them all. He has felt their embrace and the warmth of their bodies. He recognizes the sound of their laughter he knows them well. He rises to his feet and begins dressing in last night’s clothes. His eyes travel over the view of Sophia’s body as he exits the room without any goodbyes or condolences. The other men are leaving now, and he spots one exiting the room up the hall. He asks himself, "am I any different then that man there, or the one still sleeping in the room over there? Am I any different, any better then them?" He toils with the idea of paying off his house account and never returning again. He may just be getting too old for this. Better yet he knows he is getting too old for this.

As he begins his walk home to his apartment on 5th street, he is angry with himself for allowing his physical urges to override his moral approach to life. He recognizes it is time for him to end this behavior, to accept his age, and to accept that every day draws him closer to death.

Will he return to the house? It’s left unsaid. Will he ever be truly happy with himself? That’s left un-read.

(Emily Morris' note: After reading this poem I analyzed the character or rather what I thought of the character. I broke down every section into an action of a rather undesirable man. I pictured a pitiful man, a man that takes his nights at a whorehouse. A man that during the day he portrays an honorable man a role model to society’s rights.)


LIT160 Introduction to Literature, Fall 2007

Published with Permission