Monday, September 30, 2019

Farewell to Manzanar

The novel Farewell to Manzanar contains several levels of irony, beginning with the title of the novel in comparison with its subject matter. This irony can be found in the fact that the protagonist-narrator Jeanne Wakatsuki expresses through the events of the story her inability to say farewell to the place that housed her family for several years during the internment. Her youth and early adulthood are spent in direct contrast with the novel’s title, as she has had haunting memories of the place that was both home and prison to her family. She spends the length of the novel regaling her readers with the memories of Manzanar that have remained etched in her mind for decades. Irony also exists in the situation faced by the Japanese men who lived in America at the time. This situation is embodied in the life and story of Papa, Jeanne Wakatsuki’s father. He is labeled a traitor in the American society in which he lives because of his status as an immigrant. The irony in this lies in the fact that in order to become a resident of America, he had to abandon the country of his birth, in effect committing an act of treason and sedition. He finds himself abandoned by the country he has chosen in favor of his own, and is therefore left in limbo. Having made a choice to embrace America and live here, that choice is ironically thrown back into his face, as he has been branded as an outsider who could never belong. He has given up so much to come to this country—even the place in his samurai order, and the irony of the situation is that it has proven to be as inhospitable (or even more so) as he had considered the Japan he left behind. The boys of fighting age in the novel also face irony in the fact that they are forced to make a choice regarding their allegiance—whether to Japan or to the United States. What is ironic is that many of them feel torn between the two places, having a love for each. In crying â€Å"Yes, Yes† to the pledge of allegiance to the states, the young Japanese men agree to not just to fight for the country they love and live in but against the other country they love and whose heritage they share. If, however, they respond in the opposite manner by saying â€Å"No, no† then what appears to be an opposing prospect ends up feeling strangely the same—fighting for a country they love while fighting against one they also love. In fact, the opposing responses ironically end up having almost exactly the same result as they get deported to Japan if they do not pledge their allegiance to America and sent to war (also in Japan) if they do. Jeanne Wakatsuki faces many loses during the childhood she spent in Manzanar. She loses not only carefree and happy times with her family, but her paternal influence and the ability to live in a non-fabricated world of freedom. The time spent in Manzanar is hard on her family, and the strain put on her mother and father during that time spills over into her life at that period. While she is a spirited child who is unaware of the anomalous nature of her surroundings, she is still faced with the tensions felt by her father and the effect it has on her mother. Because of this, she loses the happy times she could have had with them were situations better. She also loses quality time with her father, whose life and psyche go on a downward spiral once they move into Manzanar. She writes, â€Å"Papa’s life ended at Manzanar, though he lived for twelve more years after getting out† (Houston 195). The true Papa figuratively dies as he becomes emotionally unbalanced and unable provide the secure paternal guidance she needs during her formative years.   She also loses her freedom in a way that is at first unknown to her. Yet, the family was unable to leave that area for a long period, and during that time she missed out on simple pleasures of family trips across the country and perhaps even to Japan, the home of her culture and ancestors. Work Cited Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki. A Farewell to Manzanar. New York: Random House, 1973. Farewell to Manzanar Farewell to Manzanar, written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, Japanese American, and James D. Houston, describes about the experience of being sent to an internment camp during World War II. The evacuation of Japanese Americans started after President Roosevelt had signed the Executive Order 9066 on February 19, 1942. Along with ten thousand other Japanese Americans, the Wakatsuki was sent on a bus to Manzanar, California. There, they were placed in an internment camp, many miles from their home with only what they could carry. The lives of the Japanese Americans in the internment was a struggle.But for some of the Japanese Americans, it was even harder after they were discharged from the internment camp. The evacuation and the internment had changed the lives of all Japanese Americans. The evacuation and internment affected the Wakatsuki family in three ways: the destruction of Papa’s self-esteem, the separation of the Wakatsuki family, and the change in their social status. The destruction of Papa’s self-esteem is one effect of the evacuation and internment. Before the evacuation and internment, Papa was proud; he had a self-important attitude yet he was dignified. Wakatsuki describes Papa as â€Å"a poser, a braggart, and a tyrant.But he had held on to his self-respect† (58). He was â€Å"absurdly proud† (54) that he went to the law school even though he never finished. Prior to the evacuation and internment, his self-esteem was not destroyed. When â€Å"Papa was take to the prison, he did not let the deputies push him out the door, instead he led them† (8). This manner is clearly contrasted after the evacuation and internment. Papa’s self-esteem no longer existed. Papa drunk heavily inside the barracks, â€Å"day after day he would sip his rice wine or his apricot brandy, sip till he was blind drunk and passed out† (65).His pride was diminishing like a vapor of alcohol. He became abusive towards Mama, â€Å"He yelled and shook his fists and with his very threats forced her across the cluttered room until she collided with one of the steel bed frames and fell back onto a mattress† (71). Papa's dignity had disappeared; he had become a drunk and an abusive man. The effects of the evacuation and internment contributed to the destruction of his self-esteem. The separation of the Wakatsuki family is a second effect of the evacuation and internment. Before the evacuation, the Wakatsuki family members were living in the same house in Ocean Park, California.According to the author, they used to go hunt grunion with whole family (38); they would celebrate their parents' wedding anniversaries (57). The Wakatsuki family seemed humble and very close. For them, mealtime meant a lot and it â€Å"had always been the center of their family scene†(35). They would sit around the old round wooden table in their dining room in Ocean Park (35), but at Manzanar, there was no dining table, nor the h ouse to eat in (39). They ate separately and â€Å"stopped eating as a family† (36). Eating separately was a manifestation of the disintegration of the family.The author states, â€Å"My own family, after three years of mess hall living, collapsed as an integrated unit†¦ we did not recover it until many years after the war† (37). After the internment camp was over, her siblings moved out to different places; they no longer lived together as before. They were unable to recapture the closeness of family life until many years later. The change in their social status is also an effect of the evacuation and internment. Before the evacuation, they lived in Ocean Park, California, a white neighborhood. Papa owned two fishing boats.

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