In Nisei Daughter book, the life and sacrifices of an American citizen with Japanese descendant family living in a Nisei encampment prior and during the Second World War was clearly illustrated as the author wrote her chronological memoir of the past. This much read book of Monica Sone who also known as Kazuko Itoi brought along a mixture of emotions that the audience would surely feel as they read every lines of it.
Comprising mostly of a harmonious episodes in their abode locating inside the Japanese internment as their family tried to bring with each family members the usual picture of a happy Asian American family even at the presence of chaos and atrocity between Japan and America, Kazuko narrated parts of her life that people with similar situation could relate. The narrative some of her memorable events made the book’s audience also recounted our history.
When the Pearl Harbor has been bombed by the Japanese Imperial Army on December 7, 1941, the lives and lifestyle of every person with traced blood of Japanese that was living in any American territories during that time turned upside down. Kazuko who was with her immediate family and along with their co-Japanese descendants had no choice but to follow the government’s Executive Order No. 9066 as the result of the bombing and relocated at the camp site. Being at a very young age, Kazuko did not initially notice the hardships of internment.
However, the complexity of situation in an inland residence covered with barbed wire and guarded by armed militaries was depicted along with story. She felt homesick somehow but grateful that she has her mom and all family members by her side. Kazuko’s feeling towards the United States during their resettlement has never been bad generally. Perhaps because of her age, the pain could not be sensed all throughout, although it was understandable that she felt bleak in some episodes of her life as she nostalgically remembering these while writing the book.
Feeling neither lonely nor happy especially when she recalled one incident. This was when Kazuko at a young age witnessed how the Nisei officer took away from her mother all the reading materials that are all imprinted in Japanese language including the Bible and the Manyoshu which was only a collection of classical Japanese poems. Her reminiscence of the said incident was not awful. However, we could understand that this single moment made a very significant struck at Kazuko’s young mind.
Kazuko did not describe the Nisei officer in the book as the rigid one. Perhaps because she understood that the said Nisei officer was just following orders from his superiors. And from this point made us believe that somehow, Kazuko understood that the authority of the United States government over Japanese people was not after all due to the conflict with Japan but more of justly taking the responsibility, safety above all to all Americans, all residents America and the American territories in general.
Kazuko chose to write this book in a positive way having with a soft and approachable manner in order to hide the pain of history and to give the book lightness of the topic. She was successful by all means as the book reminded us the past memories and taught us how to be peaceful amidst war and even after the war as well. Having to be live a lifestyle that was closely monitored by the authorities was never easy for two times. It was really difficult especially in growing years.
This should be the reason why Kazuko still realized the difference between residing in a guarded camp and living in a private hostel. Her realization turned into excitement after receiving the good news that she was going to study in the university as it was the obvious manifestation of democratic ideal that she was eagerly enjoying. Just in time their family has to live in liberty and apart from the watchful eyes of the officers, she knew that she would have a much more exciting life ahead with friends, schoolmates, co-Japanese American descendants, and fellow Americans.
Kazuko never missed a single second claiming that she was legally and truly American. Hence, the aftermath experience just like the past incidents was just a piece of puzzle that has to be happily reunited with every episode of her journey. These experiences helped Kazuko to become a positive author psychologist, who was once a Nisei daughter.
R E F E R E N C E
Sone, Monica Itoi. Nisei Daughter. Washington: University of Washington Press, 1979.