A Review of the Book Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Categories: Farewell To Manzanar

Farewell to Manzanar Farewell to Manzanar recounts the story of a young Japanese girl, who at the time was around seven years old, during the second World War, in the United States of America. Being Japanese, her ethnicity faced a significant threat from American people due to the fact that Japan had attacked the Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. Because of this conflict, all Japenese that were found were taken to a camp where they would be kept under guard until the war was over.

This camp was called the Manzanar Relocation Center. However, this camp was found to be very poor in health and care.

Soon enough, the Wakatsuki family started disintegrating little by little because each member starts taking different interests around the camp. For example, Jeanne had begun to take an interest in Catholicism when she started talking to a couple of nuns. Because her father was a first-generation immigrant from Japan, he was very proud of his nationality and honor, and therefore was not pleased when he found out that his daughter was taking more interest in American culture than Japanese culture.

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It is very important to understand that Jeanne was a very young girl at the time of incarceration. She was born in USA, had never been to Japan, or interacted with other Japanese people. By these facts, it would be expected that she would not identify herself as Japanese. However, she expresses how he admires her Papa about his Japanese heritage and protection of the Samurai social class that was part of his family.

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She admires this, but is unable to identify herself with it because she has never experienced it. Unfortunately, Papa was arrested and sent to a detention camp at Fort Lincoln for a year.

He returns to Manzanar afterwards but found he was being accused of being a secret spy for the Japanese on the Americans. He did not take this very well and therefore becomes violent and alcoholic. He found this accusation as an insult because, even though he respected and honored his country, he was also loyal to USA. However, this was not true for every Japanese that was stranded at Manzanar. There were Japanese that were outraged for the war and it came to a day where three men were arrested for beating up a guy that was being accused of being a spy for USA. This act of violence was called the December Riot, because after this act, more violent acts started to arise. Rioters started looking for traitors among the camp, who were called inu, which means both “dog” and “traitor” in Japanese. These search results in the death of two and several others were wounded. The government took action into these atrocities, and issued a Loyalty Oath for the Japanese. The Japanese-American had to accept or deny their loyalty to the United States; if they said no, they would be deported; if they said yes, they would be drafted.

Fortunately enough for Jeanne’s family, both her father and brother pleaded loyalty to USA.

However, Papa was still called an inu, which upset him even more.

After the riots, nonetheless, the Manzanar Relocation Center began seeing peace as it started assembling a new school for the children and adolescents that were living in the camp.

This allowed for a Japanese-American setting to settle in, so Jeanne had the opportunity to discover her capabilities through the various activities offered. She tried both Japanese and American hobbies, but found that she favored American hobbies rather than Japanese hobbies, like baton twirling. She also wanted to invest herself in the Catholic Christian religion and desired to be baptized. Papa did not enjoy knowing this, and this indifference caused a mild separation between them. Again, this is due to the fact that Jeanne does not identify herself as Japanese because she was not entirely raised as one.

In 1944, the war almost at its end, many families from the camp are found to be drafted or relocated away from the west coast. One of Jeanne’s brothers, Woody, is drafted into the military and visits his father’s family in Hiroshima, Japan. Also during this time, the U.S. government decides to ban all internment camps, and therefore the remaining residents were forced to leave the camp, even though some did not want to because they did not have a place to stay at. However, Jeanne and her family went to Long Beach. By this time, Jeanne was around twelve years old and in sixth grade. She had matured in certain senses and had begun to understand the concept of prejudice unconsciously. She realized it definitely existed when an American girl at her school, Radine, tells her that she is surprised she knows perfect English. Why wouldn’t she know perfect English if she had lived in USA her whole life? Jeanne would not have understood her comment if she was younger, but she eventually started realizing that her Japanese heritage was evident to everyone around her, even though she did not feel it.

Growing up, she was not given the same privileges her friend Radine was given when it came to social support and extra-curricular activities. She felt that was being cheated in life for not been offered the same opportunities as Radine just because she was Japanese. Of course this brought her down, but not after her father decided that the family should move to San Jose, California. In San Jose, Jeanne got into another high school and realized that not every society is the same. Here, she was given most of the opportunities she was denied back in Long Beach, even though she still suffered prejudice from her teachers.

The non-fiction text ends several years later when Jeanne is much older and married in 1972. Along with her husband and children, she visited what was once the Manzanar camp. Just walking through it made her remember how her life had truly started here, because what this camp used to be is what made what she is in the present. Even though the memories felt so far away, like the whole war had actually not occurred at all and she had just imagined it all. She had to remind herself that the camp was real, and her memories were real. Walking through the ruins, she felt a sense of missing those days, and being so young and naïve to understand why her father was so proud of his nationality. To this day, she finally understood why, and felt proud to call herself Japanese.

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A Review of the Book Farewell to Manzanar by James D. Houston and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston. (2022, Apr 20). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-review-of-the-book-farewell-to-manzanar-by-james-d-houston-and-jeanne-wakatsuki-houston-essay

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