Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Farewell To Manzanar Essay Example For Students

Farewell To Manzanar Essay Farewell To ManzanarIn the true story Farewell to Manzanar we learn of a young girls lifeas she grows up during World War II in a Japanese internment camp. Along withher family and ten thousand other Japanese we see how, as a child, theseconditions forced to shape and mold her life. This book does not directly placeblame or hatred onto those persons or conditions which had forced her to endurehardship, but rather shows us through her eyes how these experiences have heldvalue she has been able to grow from. Jeanne Wakatsuki was just a seven year growing up in Ocean Park,California when her whole life was about to change. Everything seemed to begoing fine, her father owning two fishing boats, and they lived in a large housewith a large dining table which was located in an entirely non-Japaneseneighborhood. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese was themoment Jeannes life was critically altered. This started WWII and all Japanesewere seen as possible threats to the nations safety. It is not difficult to see,but difficult to justify this view, and therefore Jeanne Wakatsuki, just a child,was now seen as a monster. Her father was immediately arrested and taken away,being accused with furnishing oil to Japanese subs off the coast. And now,Jeanne left without a father, her mother was trapped with the burden of Jeannesrapidly aging grandmother and her nine brothers and sisters. Too young tounderstand, Jeanne did not know why or where her father had been taken. But shedid know that one very important part of her was gone. Jeannes father was a very strong, military-like, proud, arrogant, anddignified man. He was the one who was always in control, and made all thedecisions for the family. He grew up in Japan, but left at the age of seventeen,headed for work in Hawaii, and never again went back. Leaving his own familybehind and never contacting them ever again. But now it was time for Jeannesfamily to do something. They found refuge at Terminal Island, a place wheremany Japanese families live either in some transition stage or for permanentresidents. Jeanne was terrified. It was the first time I had lived amongother Japanese, or gone to school with them, and I was terrified all the time.Her father, as a way of keeping his children in line, told them, Im going tosell you to the Chinaman. So when Jeanne saw all these Japanese kids sheassumed she was being sold. They were soon given 48 hrs. to find a new place tostay. Again they found refuge in a minority ghetto in Boyle Heights, LosAngeles. But then the g overnment issued Executive Order 9066 which gave the WarDept. power to define military areas in the western states. Anyone who couldpossibly threaten the war effort (Japanese) were going to be transported tointernment camps. As Jeanne boarded the Greyhound bus someone tied a number tagto her collar and one to her duffel bag. So, for now on all families hadnumbers to which they could be identified. No longer people, but animalshearded off to some unknown place. This was to be their destiny for the rest ofthe war, and long after. Being a child, Jeanne was too young to comprehend what all this reallymeant. She knew that her dad was away and her family was moving a lot. Atfirst, for Jeanne this seemed exciting, like an adventure, since she had neverbeen outside of L.A. before. Jeanne is a Nissei, a natural born citizen of theUnited States. But, again this really didnt mean much to her. What could shedo, and what could she know? Up to this point her life had been relativelysimple. As a 7-yr. old one doesnt really no much of life anyway! This wassoon to change for her, as she is now being forced into a world guarded behindbarbed wire. Manzanar, located near Lone Pine, California was the camp Jeannesfamily, kept together only by an effort made by Jeannes mother, was assigned to. The conditions were raw, cold, windy and unfriendly. In a sense a metaphor forJeanne, their treatment, and the unstable condition of her family and life. 10,000 Japanese shoved into a quarter mile piece of dust-land surrounded withbarbed wire, and guard towers. The living quarters were shabbily constructedwooden barracks which didnt provide any shelter from the blistering cold windand the dry dust. Not quite a concentration camp, but not quite adequate either. Police Brutality and Community Relations EssayThere were no answers. How could a government take everything away, put us incamps, then let us loose with nothing? And how were they to be treated oncethey were out there. Fearing the stories they heard that earlier releasedinternees had been beating or even killed. But when they finally left it wasdifferent. They expected people lining the streets with guns, or billboardsreading go home you dirty Japs on them. They were put up in a housing compound in Cabrillo. It was small buther mom now could cook and the cold winds didnt get in. Jeanne enrolled in Jr. high school, and her mother got a job at a cannery. Her father refusing tostoop that low didnt find a job for a long time. Her first experience on theoutside of Manzanar had the lurking of all her fears of not being accepted. When asked to read in class as the new student, she stood up and read well. Then a girl said something that haunts her to this day. Gee I didnt know youcould speak English. This remark made by a white girl, whom she became friendswith later, made her realize that this is how things were going to be. Theywerent going to beat or injure her, they were going to see she has slanted eyesand assume that she is different. She only wanted acceptance. And realizedthat it was going to happen unless she proved something to them. She did. Since she had taken baton at Manzanar she made the marching band as majorette. The first Japanese majorette ever at her school. Then on to win beauty queen inhigh school. These things made her feel accepted, one of the others. But shewas denying the fact that she was doing this for them not completely for herself. She realized this when she was walking down the isle to receive her carnivalqueen award. A kind of revelation hit her that none of this really mattered anymore, and wished she had taken Odori classes like her father wanted her to. Ithink this revealed that she had finally found herself among all these otherpeople and didnt have to be the same as them, she could now be her, for herself. Nearly 30 yrs. Later when she herself was married and had 3 children ofher own was she able to accept that part that over the years she tried to forget. She said that she was always putting off trips to Manzanar because she wasafraid it might have the same effect on her as it did when she was young. Thatfeeling of inferiority and nothingness in this world she had always been a partof. She used to hate herself for the way white people would get to her with onelittle comment like Oh! You speak English, that she would feel completelyforeign in her world. When she finally visited the ruins of Manzanar she nolonger wanted to lose or have those years erased. Having found it, I could saywhat you can really say when youve truly come to know a place: Farewell.This says it all. She had finally been able to see that Manzanar was one giantstepping stone she had climbed, and that gave her worth, so she could feel atpeace with herself. Her life had really begun at Manzanar, but she isnt aboutto let it end there. In conclusion, this story was well written and I could sympathize withevery trial and tribulation she encountered. Some may say she didnt value herJapanese heritage enough or was pitying herself for being Japanese. But she, inmy view is a hero because she took everything that was imposed on her andendured through it. She was able to accept herself through a kind of spiritualgrowth, which was both revelational, and inspirational. I only hope that oneday I can make some sense of the things gone wrong in my life, or at least growfrom them. Jeanne is a woman now, who as a child was thrown around in a racialroller coaster, and can accept herself as an important part of society and life,rather than needing others to accept it for her. Note: I really enjoyed this book and the next time I head out to Mammoth LakesI will definitely try and find Manzanar. Category: History

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