In the early year of 1942, the families of Japanese people are being ordered to start a move to Manzanar, California; the Wakatsuki family is one of them. Many Japanese accept the move because they are afraid of Caucasian aggression, but some simply see it as an adventure. Families have to put on identification number tags on their collars. Riding on buses to Manzanar, Jeanne falls asleep on the bus, nearly half of which is filled with her relatives, and wakes up to the “setting sun and the yellow, billowing dust of Owens Valley. (pg 19)
As they enter the camp, the new arrivals stare silently at the families already waiting in the wind and sand. Upon arriving, just in time for dinner, “the mess halls weren’t completed yet” (pg 19) seeing a line formed around the soon to be finished building blocking a good part of the wind. Only seeing tents and barracks, half built buildings that were unending. There were cracks in the floors, only one light bulb per room, gaps in the walls, an oil stove for heat, and not very much space at all. “We were assigned two of these for the twelve people in our family group. ” (pg. 1) With all the confined spacing for the families, you can tell there was a lot of tension between everyone. The food they had made for us to eat was not in our culture at all.
“The Caucasian servers were thinking that the fruit poured over rice would make a good desert. Among the Japanese, of course, rice is never eaten with sweet foods, only with salty or savory foods. ” (pg. 20) On top of the food being served wrong, their latrines were not very useable. “The smell of it spoiled what little appetite we had. ” (pg. 31) “My mother was a very modest person, and this was going to be agony for her, sitting down in public, among strangers. (pg. 32). What some of the other women did was drag in a big cardboard carton and put up as walls so no one could see. The reservoir shack was just outside of camp.
“My brother-in-law Kaz was foreman of a reservoir maintenance detail, the only crew permitted to work or to leave the camp limits the night of the riot. ” (pg. 78) The guys that were on this detail slept on cots in a shack. When they turned off the lights in the shack at night and everyone was laying down it was so dark that you couldn’t see anyone or anything in the shack.