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How is the quote, "Circumstances are beyond the control or man; but his conduct is in...

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moocow554 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Valedictorian

Posted March 12, 2013 at 8:50 PM via web

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How is the quote, "Circumstances are beyond the control or man; but his conduct is in his own power", by Benjamin Disraeli, demonstrated in Hiroshima by John Hersey?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted July 22, 2013 at 11:36 AM (Answer #1)

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This work is of course an amazing testament of the way in which humans can triumph over their circumstances and achieve heroic feats of endurance and self-sacrificial giving. The various people involved in this narrative are examples of individuals who prove Disraeli's quote. None of them chose to be involved in the bombing of Hiroshima, and thus they show that "circumstances are beyond the control of man." However, each of them demonstrate that they are responsible for their own "conduct," or behaviour. Just to take one example, consider Mr. Tanimoto in Part 3, who, in spite of his own exhaustion, helped the Jesuits in seeking safe passage across the river for about twenty people, aiding them by carrying them onto the opposite riverbank, in spite of the very complicated and upsetting nature of the work:

Their backs and breasts were clammy, and he remembered uneasily what the great burns he had seen during the day had been like: yellow at first, then red and swollen, with the skin sloughed off, and finally, in the evening, suppurated and smelly.

Mr. Tanimoto is just one example therefore of a human who did not choose to be involved in the bombing of Hiroshima, but recognised that he had the responsibility as to how he responded to that bombing and was able to operate within that situation to help and support others who were less fortunate than himself. The various stories of the characters in this text amply proves Disraeli's statement: even though Hiroshima represented a terrible day for human history, at the same time, humanity proved that it was more than equal to the situation, as the acts of kindness and generosity in this text show.

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