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RESIDUAL STRUGGLES: TRUST, PEACE, AND MASTERY ]) Contending Symbols The limited attainments of A-bomb leaders suggest the depth of residual conflict. The conflict has existed within individual hibakusha, in the general Hiroshima community, and, in fact, throughout all of postbomb society. Hibakusha struggles to absorb their experience are therefore problems of psychohistorical mastery. The contending symbols within and around hibakusha are those which affirm life and those which subvert it; the polarity is that of reintegration versus residual distrust. For individual hibakusha the experience of being loved and cared for could, gradually and against obstacles, re-create life-affirming imagery and re-establish the capacity to live. In the case of the shopkeeper's assistant, for instance, the pattern of suspiciousness and homeless wandering we noted before was interrupted by four human relationships sufficiently profound to be experienced as an A-bomb orphan's re-establishment of "family": with a welfare official , who took responsibility for the boy's life to the point of taking him into his own home and "treating me like a younger brother"; with a university professor and his wife (introduced by the welfare official), who became "parents" for a whole group of A-bomb orphans and with D E A T H I N L I F E whom he could "feel at ease . . . because of the warm and homey atmosphere—as if I were in my own family"; and with an employer (introduced by the universityprofessor), who he felt also treated him as a younger brother. The academic couple also did much to encourage his marriage to a girl from the same group of A-bomb orphans, and became, in effect, "grandparents" to the two children resulting from the marriage . Finding himself stabilized, he felt that his dead parents and younger brother—or their souls—"could also settle down." Involved in his reconstituted family viability was inner imagery of being reintegrated into the continuity of human existence via the biological mode of symbolic immortality so emphasized in East Asian culture. But his reintegrative process, despite the remarkable help he received, has been tenuous, accompanied by a persistent sense of deprivation ("I have cried often since the bomb was dropped because of having no parents") and anger ("I don't know how to put into words the rage I still feel about the bomb"). Moreover, the quality of his references to his early life—including the pre-bomb family utopia he describes— conveys the sense that he still struggles against a tendency to view all of his post-A-bomb care as counterfeit. This tendency does not result from any absence of either sincerity or generosity on the part of those who offered the care, but simply from the fact that it came from people other than his real parents, and was a consequence of his parents' deaths. Part of the function of his continuing emphasis upon the emotional support still received from his dead parents is that of keeping vivid his momory of his last and only experience of totally authentic— that is, actual parental—nurturance. And retained death guilt throws a shadow even upon that. Sensitivities about counterfeit nurturance were extremely strong in all children forced to depend upon special care, particularly care coming from city or government agencies. One close observer commented that such children always feel backward and cannot see the bright side of things as other children do but . . . seem to be sitting on the sidelines and crouching to make themselves small . . . trying to hide the fact that they are being publicly cared for,and that they have no parents. Diffuse residual bitterness can be felt toward Hiroshima itself and the people in it, as expressed by the bargirl, whose loss of her mother made 254 Residual Struggles: Trust, Peace, and Mastery her an A-bomb orphan at the age of four, in a poem written during her teens: I Hate Hiroshima Hiroshima, where my grandfather and my mother were killed by the A-bomb. Hiroshima, where my surviving grandmother and I are living as beggars. Those who look at us in this state with cold eyes are the people of Hiroshima. I hate, hate, hate the town of Hiroshima and the people of Hiroshima. When I talked with her, I found her to be an unhappy-looking girl of twenty-one who was clearly having difficulty fulfilling the requirements of marriage and motherhood, difficulty which she attributed entirely to the bomb's having deprived her of nurturance: "After all...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781469602363
Related ISBN
9780807843444
MARC Record
OCLC
868030268
Pages
606
Launched on MUSE
2014-01-01
Language
English
Open Access
No
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