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The Ash Garden, By Dennis Bock Is A Moving Portrait Of Two Lives, Damaged And Changed By The War, It Is A Haunting Mediation On The Uses Of Memory And Its Power To Both Condemn And Redeem

1943 words - 8 pages

No matter who you are, or which side of the bombing of Hiroshima you are coming from, the Ash Garden by Dennis Bock clearly brings out the struggles, emotions, and pain that follows everyone involved. The struggles of the main characters in this novel are both besieged in their own unique way. Emiko, a Japanese girl who was physically wounded by the bomb itself in Hiroshima, deals with the struggles of physical deformities as well as the emotional unstableness due to the death of her family caused by the bomb. Anton Böll, a scientist who was with the United States military during World War II everyday has to battle the memories, horrors and terrifying scenes that he had seen in ...view middle of the document...

" [Bock, 28]. Emiko had begun to lose hope in her brother's recovery, and the doctor's huddling over Mitsuo only said, "he was a lost case and soon would die. They wondered aloud what kept him alive. Every morning they seemed surprised that he had survived the night. There was no hope for him." [Bock, 28] Emiko's physical appearance was completely disfigured by the bomb; she would have to live forever, even after plastic surgery and reconstructive surgery, with scars baring the prior disfigurement of her body. Her little bundle of hope, Mitsuo, an innocent boy, and both her blameless parents were stolen from her in an instant; Emiko had nothing left but her own will. Though her childhood was very distraught little things helped Emiko pull herself back on track and place her as a prominent women in the western society; the society which first destroyed her.The disfigured Emiko was chosen out of hundreds of indignant Japanese girls to get the opportunity to travel to the United States for reconstructive and plastic surgery. Emiko had wished of actually getting an opportunity to maybe have a chance at having her beauty back, and it had finally been granted. Emiko "was a young girl chosen because [Emiko] could be turned into a favourable statistic. For [Emiko] the chances were better than for many others." [Bock, 109] which everyday she was thankfully for. Emiko had very little to hold onto for hope and stability once she left her grandfather in Hiroshima. The one thing Emiko did bring with her was silence. She used the silence to protect her, and to conceal her pain. With her silence though came her refusal to give in, it was her sole tactic in the new unknown world which was propelled into. "I learned that I possessed this advantage early on, back home, when my brother and I were still in the hospital together. After his death the silence that fell over the ward threatened to overwhelm me...I realized that it would always be there taunting me, unless I found some way to welcome it, which I finally did." [Bock 116] Emiko used the negative aspects of her life to strengthen her perseverance. Though the memories of World War II were always in her mind, Emiko took them and used them to bring her forwards. Emiko used the turmoil she suffered as wind for her sail in success. Emiko and Anton Böll's stories connect with one another in 1995. Fifty years after the tragic bombing of Hiroshima. Emiko approached Anton at a conference he was speaking at with regards to the Hiroshima bombing. Emiko had, since her first arrival in America, worked as an interpreter for the UN, as well as began creating documentaries. Emiko asked Anton if there was a possibility of an interview with him for her documentary of the Hiroshima bombing. She felt that following her history would help bring closure to her past, and in order to do so she would need information from both sides of the war. "At the very least what [Anton] was about to show [Emiko] might prove to be...

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