Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes


Eleanor Coerr

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Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes Themes

Themes and Colors
Peace and Pacifism Theme Icon
History, Family, and Tradition Theme Icon
Hope, Strength, and Perseverance Theme Icon
Death as Freedom Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Peace and Pacifism

The story of Sadako Sasaki is many things—an ode to optimism, an exploration of what constitutes freedom, a meditation on family—but above all, perhaps, it is a plea for peace. Sadako contracts her illness as a result of radiation poisoning from the nuclear bomb dropped on her city, Hiroshima, when she was just a baby. Eleanor Coerr tells the story of Sadako’s senseless death in order to underscore the importance of peace and nonviolence.


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History, Family, and Tradition

At eleven years old, Sadako Sasaki is the eldest girl in her family and the most outspoken of all her siblings. She struggles to balance her sunny and outgoing disposition with the historical burden her family carries from the losses it suffered in the nuclear bombing of 1945. Though Sadako does not mourn her parents’ losses in the exact same way they do, she feels just as overwhelmed when she attempts to reckon with the…

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Hope, Strength, and Perseverance

Sadako is just eleven when she is admitted to the Hiroshima Red Cross Hospital with leukemia. Frightened and alone for the first time in her life, Sadako begins her long stay in the hospital. As Sadako’s condition worsens, her hope is challenged again and again. Though her physical strength wanes, her desire to meet her goal of folding one thousand paper cranes keeps her going and provides her friends and family with a tangible means…

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Death as Freedom

When Sadako is first diagnosed with leukemia, illness is new to her. Though she knows that many people come down with the “atom bomb sickness,” no one in her family has been touched by it, and although she was a baby during the bombing, the atomic explosion “hadn’t even scratched her.” Death is a frightening prospect for Sadako, as it is for anyone, but as her stay in the hospital goes on and her condition…

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