Black Rain: Reader Response

by Masuji Ibuse

The main character in the novel is in some ways like myself. Mr. Shizuma is a
person that is intrigued by many things and likes to see what reaction people
have from any action. Throughout the novel he feels the need to go to different
parts of the city and surrounding communities in order to see the effects of the
unknown bomb. Mr. Shizuma was not only interested in what happened to the people
of the community but he was also interested in finding out what the weapon used
was called and made out of. There were different names given to the bomb
throughout the book and he sums up the names in one paragraph, The name of the
bomb had already undergone a number of changes, from the initial “new weapon”
through “new-type bomb,” “secret weapon,” “special new-type bomb,” to “special
high-capacity bomb.” That day, I learned for the first time to call it an “
atomic bomb.” (Black Rain 282)

The importance of the name of the bomb may seem ineffectual, but he seems to
dwell on finding out what caused this type of destruction. Something else that
Mr. Shizuma wants to do is remember every little detail about what happens to
everything from what angle the house was on after the bomb to what his wife
cooked for dinner with the food rationing. He even likes to write how people
cured themselves of radiation sickness and what the burns and other injuries
look and act like. These things are like myself in the fact that he does not
like to forget what things are like, wants to see first hand what the effects
are, and is very interested in finding information about new things that he has
never seen before. He also likes to help people greatly such as his constant
wanderings looking for coal for his community. If you were depended on would
you help your community? I think so.

The theme that is very meaningful to me is that war hurts two different parts of
a country. The first is the military, which was not really talked about, and
then there is the civilians. The civilians must ration food so that the
military can eat, and then they must also suffer because the bomb that was
dropped was not meant for any military base but to destroy and kill a city. The
theme is clear in meaning that it hurts the civilians much more than it hurts
the military and that war is very, very cruel. The people that were rationing
had very little to eat and that amount became smaller as the war continued.
People were forced to grow carp in small, and search for mussels in ponds in
order to get any type of meat. By the end of the war there were no mussels left
in any of the many streams and there were also no fish in any of the ponds. The
only thing that survived were the eels who were seen swimming up the river a day
before the surrender was given. This was a sign of rebirth. It only took a year
after the Hiroshima bombing for the surrender and during that time the
government did not help any of the people that really were hurt by the war, the
civilians. It was strange that the people felt any remorse at all for losing the
war when the government that they were supposed to believe in left them
homeless and without any food. Innocent, unarmed people killed and mangled by a
weapon that could kill the entire planet. For what purpose was the bomb
dropped? Mr. Shizuma made many remarks about how if the opposition would have
only waited a while longer they would not have had to drop the bomb because the
country was internally falling apart. This seems to me that the dropping of the
bomb was nothing but a science experiment to the ‘opposition'. That is the
hidden theme to this novel.

The only type of person that could possibly read this book is a person that is
very open minded to other ideas. To most people from the United States the bomb
was necessary in order to stop the war. In the eyes of the Japanese the bomb
was not needed to stop the war. Which side is true? The answer is both sides. To
have an open mind and to be able to accept new ideas is crucial when you look at
people from a different type of