Essay Farewell to Manzanar
1142 Words5 Pages
Farewell to Manzanar
Farewell to Manzanar is sociologist and writer Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's first hand account of her interment in the Japanese camps during World War II. Growing up in southern California, she was the youngest of ten children living in a middle-to lower class, but comfortable life style with her large family. In the beginning of her story, she told about how her family was close, but how they drifted apart during and after their internment in the camp. The ironic part of it is that her family spent their entire time together in the same camp. So why did her family drift apart so? What was once the center of the family scene; dinner became concealed with the harsh realities of the camp. This reflects the loss…show more content…
He was under investigation with false connections with Japanese submarines. After many moves of the family in desperation to find their place, they were soon permanently moved into their camp in central California. In the middle of the Owen's valley, Manzanar was a dry, windy desert; cold at night and hot during the day. It took some work and a strategy, but the family was able to stay together during their time at the camp, and was even put into the same block. As time passed in the camp and with the return of their tattered father from imprisonment, it was a matter of time that the family began to drift apart. His containment, and soon imprisonment in the camp gave him a loss of pride and self-respect. He fell into a slump of alcoholism and abuse towards his wife and family. He never came out of the barracks to socialize or even eat. He always had his wife bring him his meals from the mess hall. Along with him, Granny was unable to walk the long distance to the mess hall to eat, so Houston's mama also brought her meals to the barracks. Houston describes in her account that before her family's internment in Manzanar:
"Mealtime had always been the center of our family scene. In camp, and afterward, I world often recall with deep yearning the old round wooden table in our dining room in Ocean Park... large enough to
Farewell to Manzanar
Fighting a war against the oppression and persecution of a people, how hypocritical of the American government to harass and punish those based on their heritage. Magnifying the already existing dilemma of discrimination, the bombing of Pearl Harbor introduced Japanese-Americans to the harsh and unjust treatment they were forced to confront for a lifetime to come. Wakatsuki Ko, after thirty-five years of residence in the United States, was still prevented by law from becoming an American citizen.
Denied citizenship by the United States, a man without a country, he was tormented and interrogated by the government based on this reality, labeled a âdisloyalâ citizen to the U.S. Severing Ko from the remainder of his family, the FBI detained as many as 1370 Japanese-Americans, classifying them as âdangerous enemy aliens.â As much as a year would pass before he would see his family again, joining them at Manzanar, a concentration camp. Forced to destroy all memoirs of his Japanese heritage, fearful such things would allude to Japanese allegiance, Ko no longer possessed any material possessions to account for his ancestry.
Convinced that those Japanese-Americans living close to the coast posed as a threat to the success of the American army, they were forced to abandon their homes and their belongings to move inland. Allowing as much as a carload per family and possessions, much of their property was left behind. Executive Order 9066 forced all Japanese-Americans from western states into military areas, placing disconnected and detached families into various internment camps.
Young and not yet attentive to the Americanized way of hate, Jeanne Wakatsuki, youngest daughter of Ko, did not revolt or resist the discrimination her family faced at Manzanar. Forced to live in confining and unsuitable shacks, four persons to a room, the family structure disintegrated while family members grew farther and farther apart. In these camps, privacy did not exist, solitude a scarce thing. These people were thrown into unlivable sheds in the middle of a desert. They were treated as an inferior class, one subordinate to white Americans.
Disregarding the past years spent at an internment camp, the years that disassembled her family into a blur of oblivion, Jeanne chose to familiarize herself with the American way. Although forbidden U.S. citizenship, she made numerous attempts to Americanize herself, opting for such standings as Girl Scout, baton leader, Homecoming Queen. However competent and capable this young woman was, she was repeatedly denied because of her race, her appearance, her Japanese heritage which in actuality she knew nothing about. Not only did she accept this rejection, she understood it, somehow justifying it as appropriate conclusion.
Upon the closing of WWII, Japanese-Americans were released into a world of hatred. They were released into a world in which they were still the antagonist, still the enemy. Discrimination based on appearance and descent, racism controlled every aspect of that personâs life. Work, school, home, leisure, and all conditions of living were to remain regulated by an inferior and secondary division of living until society would progress to make change and transform our society into one of equality.
Word Count: 517