Farewell to Manzanar Book Analysis

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Updated: Mar 27, 2021
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Life at a Japanese internment camp in California during World War II named Manzanar. The book Farewell to Manzanar start out with Jeanne Wakatsuki watching her father and the other fisherman going out to sea to catch fish and she knew something was wrong because the boats were like small dots in the ocean, but never went out of sight. The dots started becoming large again as they were returning to the harbor. Jeanne and her mother wondered what had happened was somebody hurt or was one of the boats having engine troubles. They returned to the harbor because the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. That night papa burned the Japanese flag and any other documents that would link him to Japan. (p6 Houston) He was considered an alien who had a commercial fishing license, which was the way he feeds and provided for his family and in the beginning days of the war, the Federal Bureau of Investigation was arresting and gathering up the Japanese people with these credentials since the FBI believed that they would contact the enemy ships off the coast. (p6 Houston)

They moved to Terminal Island and was staying at her brother’s place Woody when the FBI showed up to take him in for questioning, papa went with them with no hesitation, he stood proud and tall. Later that night they arrested papa saying that he provided the enemy with oil, which was not true his two-gallon drums on his boats were full of bait he and his sons used to catch the fish they would sell to the canneries. (p3-8 Houston) Mama and the rest of the family at home, move to Terminal Island to be near Woody and one of the sisters, so the family could say together. Mama went to work in the Terminal Island canneries while waiting to hear from Papa as to where he was and if and when he would be released. They had trouble adjusting to others at Terminal Island since the other kids make faces and noises at them as they walked down the streets and went to school.

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They were told it was dangerous in having so many Asians living at or near the Long Beach Naval Station on the opposite end of the island so on February 25 they were told they had forty-eight hours to leave Terminal Island.(p12 Huston) Mama had a china set that was worth a lot of money, but the second-hand dealers would not even offer her half of what it was worth.(p13) So, Mama next shaking with her eyes like flames looked up at the dealer and begun to throw her china at his feet, he turns, runs out and then she stands there breaking every piece of it with tears pouring down her face.(p13 Houston) So they moved to a small house in Boyle Heights, which was another ghetto for minorities. Then President Roosevelt signed an executive order, 9066 which allowed the War Department to define which areas were military in the western states and to forbid anyone who might threaten the war effort. (p14 Houston) At this time talks were beginning about moving the Japanese people to internment camps around the table.

Mama finally received a letter from Papa who was in North Dakota, where he was in prison at Fort Lincoln, an all-male camp. Shortly after the move to Boyle Heights they received word they would have to make a third and final move to Manzanar, which meant nothing to them when they left Boyle Heights but eventually had a meaning. They went because they were ordered to go by the government. Her older brother and sisters have some sort of relief because they heard of the stories of Japanese homes being attached and of the beatings in the streets of the towns of California.(p15 Houston) They had become afraid of the white, Anglo-Saxon, Caucasian person and the same was said for the white, Caucasian people that they were just as afraid of them. The Japanese people went to Manzanar thinking it was for protection. They could only bring what belongings they could carry on the bus it took a whole day’s bus ride to get to Manzanar, they drove thru the gate and notice that they would be living behind barbed wire fences and locked gates. They notice tents, and lots of rows of black barracks and then more barracks. They arrived just in time for dinner, which was not much since the mess halls had not been completed yet. They were given, United States Army mess kits, their first meal was canned Vienna sausage, canned string beans and over cooked rice with apricots on top. (p18 Houston)

The Japanese never eat rice with sweet foods only with salty or savory foods (p18 Houston) After dinner they were taken to block 16 which was a cluster of fifteen barracks just finished if you could call them finished, they were made of a plank of pine one thickness is covered with tar paper which sat upon concrete footings with about two feet between floorboards and the ground, as the wood dried out the cracks and the knot in the pine grew worse and let in more wind, dust, and dirt. Each barracks was divided into six unite sixteen by twenty (p19 Houston) had one bare light bulb hanging from the ceiling, also an oil stove for heat. The Wakatsuki was assigned two barracks for the size of a family of twelve. (p19 Houston) They were given steel army cots, two brown army blankets each, and mattress overs which they stuffed with straw.

This is just the first night at Manzanar how would you like to live this way? (p19 Houston) Not even treated as citizens or second hand citizens or even like human beings just animals. Mama had worked as a dietitian in Washington, (p 35 Houston) she went to work at camp Manzanar as a dietician. The camp tore the family apart once they all sat down and ate together they no longer did. They separated upon rising at dawn and went about what they wanted to do with their friends and ate with their friends. Mothers would go to the mess hall to get milk for their babies and there was not enough to go around, also there was a shortage of sugar and other things from the kitchens at the mess halls. Someone was stealing the food and selling it off for money they believed.

On another note, Jeanne wandered the camp watching and looking at the people in the camp for something to do. Mama brings papa his meals with extra portions of dessert, so he can make his alcoholic drinks from the fruit. Papa thinks mama is spreading rumors and participating in rumors about him from his time in prison and beats mama and one of the boys steps in and stops him from trying to kill mama. Life did not get any better in the internment camps, they had a riot, and fights that people were shot and two Japanese were killed and ten wounded by the government, the riot started because of the arrest of the cook and the people in the camp wanted him set free and not put on trial. Towards the end of time at the camp, the boys were in two separate bands that played in the camp. Then there was a new director of the camp and he said he was trying to make things better.

During their time at Manzanar and being treated like animals the United States Government and military send a questionnaire to the Japanese in the camp there were two questions on the questionnaire number 27 which said “Are you willing to serve in the Armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?” (p73 Houston) and question 28 “ Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor. Or any other foreign government, power or organization?” (p73 Houston) They were afraid if they answered no to these because of the way we treated them, they would be deported back to Japan. So most of them said yes, yes, and some were drafted into the military and served overseas. Woody, Jeanne brother enlisted in the war and went willingly. As word of the internment camps are to be closed and the Japanese are to leave the camp. Papa waits until the end of the camp’s life to leave, papa leaves the camp and buys an automobile because he thinks that is the way to leave in style.

The Japanese people are worried and fear going back and living outside the camps because of the stories they hear about people hurting the Japanese people and hating them. It was hard going back and finding work, a place to live and going to school because as Jeanne found out since she was Japanese she could not join the girl scouts or even be head of a school organization or even be the prom queen even after she was voted in. School officials tried to cover up that she won the vote for the prom queen, but a friend of hers overheard what they were talking about and fought to retain her as the prom queen. She maintains, the title and went to the homecoming game as the prom queen. Yes, though all the hate, racism, prejudice, Jeanne managed to get through life. She has married, has two children and wrote a book about her time at Manzanar, which help the rest of us to see what she went through.

I believe the government should have treated the Japanese culture and people the same as any other person living on the coast during World War II. They should not have been sent to internment camps and treated like animals without feelings. In some ways, we were just as bad in our treatment of the Japanese as were the Nazi in the Jewish concentration camps, in the way the Jews were treated in the Nazi camps. In the Nazi camps you were either put into the camps or sent to the gas chambers and put to death, they had little to eat, bad too little medical needs met.

They had to work for the Germans and were often beaten, they did not have proper clothing for the winter in Germany camps. They had to ride in cattle cars like animals at the beginning of the war and at the end of the war. If the Germans believed you committed a crime you were set on display and hung to death in the middle of the camp and everyone had to watch. I just touch on a portion of what happened in the Nazi camps. The internment camps in California that housed the Japanese during World War II was not much different we put our United States Japanese people behind barbed wire fences and locked gates away from all forms of other ethnic groups of people. They had very poor living conditions, food but cook poorly and with little taste, not what they would eat, they had little medical treatment available to them.

When they rioted we did shoot and kill two people and wounded ten others. We did give them schools, later allowed them to work and venture out of the gates of the camps for entertainment. The children did form touch football teams, had dances with jive bands they formed. They were able to do yearbooks from high school and did have high school graduations in the camps in California. But the Japanese people should not have been in the internment camps in the beginning, as stated above should have been treated as anyone else in society. Lastly, the Japanese people had the highest decorated infantry regiment in World War II and it was the 442 infantry.

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Farewell to Manzanar Book Analysis. (2021, Mar 27). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/farewell-to-manzanar-book-analysis/