Farewell to Manzanar: Novel Summary:chp 13-18
The inner workings of Block 28 are explored. For the first time, Jeanne and her brother Kiyo attend a school that is made up of several blocks within the compound. Called Manzanar High, it is also near an elementary school. The school has equipment including, desks, labs and books.
It is during this time that Jeanne meets a teacher whom she describes as being the best. The teacher, an unknown white woman from Kentucky, is strict, fair and committed to teaching the kids.
Jeanne sings in an all girls Glee Club made up of 4th to 6th graders. Outside of school, there are planned activities such as camping. The kids are allowed to explore the grounds. Jeanne is introduced to baton twirling taught by a woman named Nancy. For Jeanne, twirling is one of the ways in which she hopes to be accepted and considered more American.
She also visits an old geisha woman in order to learn odori, which is a traditional Japanese dance, but Jeanne doesn’t enjoy it. She later tries a ballet class that is offered in one of the empty barracks. She seems intrigued by the teacher’s body and the intricacy of ballet, but she never returns after the first lesson.
It is also at this time that Jeanne becomes increasingly fascinated with the Maryknoll chapel and the nuns. She decides to be baptized, but her father says no. Jeanne continues to practice twirling on a daily basis.
Jeanne’s oldest sister, Eleanor, moves into the camp with them. Pregnant with a child, her husband has enlisted in the war and she has relocated from Reno to the camp in order to be with her family. There is great anxiety surrounding her pregnancy and the health of the baby. Blood is in low supply and Japanese-Americans are not at the top of the transfusion list. The family is particularly concerned because two other sisters have experienced difficulty, one has miscarried and the other hemorrhaged. Eleanor safely delivers a healthy baby boy and she and the baby are doing fine. Both Mama and Papa are overjoyed.
The instability of their home life is buffered by a period of normalcy for Jeanne and her brother. They are able to attend school in what is described as a desirable environment that is conducive to learning. They are also introduced to structured co-curricular activities that allow them to explore the outdoors, hobbies and other interests.
It is Kiyo’s and Jeanne’s first taste of childhood since being involuntarily relocated. It is during this period of her life that Jeanne is introduced to a hobby that she becomes so passionate about that she practices it on a regular basis, baton twirling.
It is also a time when she rejects traditional Japanese dance, odori, which is often associated with the East. She also rejects ballet which is associated with the grace and poise of the West. In rejecting both of these, she is beginning to carve out her own autonomy and what’s important to her as opposed to simply following the wishes and dreams of others.
Her sister’s pregnancy and the possibility that she and/or the baby may die is a shocking reminder of the seriousness of the unfair and prejudicial treatment that Japanese-Americans endured at this time. Upon hearing about the successful birth of his grandson, it is one of the rare occasions where Papa expresses joy and elation.
Members of the family are slowly starting to leave Manzanar, including Eleanor and her family. Woody is drafted in December of 1944. Jeanne is saddened by her brother’s departure. It reminds her of the day that Papa went away.
The future of the enlisted and drafted men is uncertain and this weighs heavily for the Watasuki family members. The wartime departure is full of families who are riddled with questions about the war and the safety of their loved ones. During that same month, the United States Supreme Court ruling called Ex Parte Endo officially challenged the evacuation orders and led to the rescinding of the order. It also led to the closing of the camps over a twelve-month period.
The Wakasukis and others respond with joy at the thought of being free to go after years of isolation. In the midst of their anticipation, there is also anxiety and fear about the unknown and their next steps. The United States government has not clearly expressed relocation or resettlement plans.
Jeanne says that their state of being is similar to that of American slaves at the end of the Civil War. Having only known the land of their masters, some slaves, even though they were free, remained on the plantations.
As opportunities present themselves, Jeanne’s family unit starts to grow smaller and moves farther apart. Most significantly in this chapter, Woody is drafted and is sent to fight. Like any other family, the Watasukis are concerned about his well-being and the unknown variables that are associated with fighting in a war of this magnitude. This chapter suggests that the families of Japanese-American soldiers are equally affected by the war as their Caucasian counterparts.
Seeing her brother leave triggers the memory of her father leaving years earlier. Jeanne is saddened and feels a sense of loneliness as she wonders if her brother will return a changed man. Just as Woody is leaving, the family discovers that the highest court of the land has ruled against exclusion orders and relocation camps.
After the initial sense of relief and happiness, Jeanne explores the true implications of this decision. Life outside of Manzanar is foreign and ambiguous at best. Although Jeanne describes Manzanar as a “desert ghetto” (116), she, at least, knows what to expect.
She questions if many Japanese-American detainees want to, or can, get reacclimated to American life. Using the analogy of American slaves shows the irony and complexity of their situation and the choices that they will soon have to make.
In June the camp schools are closed and it is announced that the entire camp will close by December. Those who did not leave on their own would leave in weekly increments. Families are able to decide where they are moving to and the government will pay their way there. If a family doesn’t choose then they will be sent back to their pre-war community.
A law passed while they are detained will prevent Papa from holding a fisherman’s license. His boats and entire livelihood are confiscated or stolen while he is away. They discover through letters from relatives who have already left that some are being put in trailers and huts. Ko and Riku discuss their plans for relocating. Neither one is sure what to do so they decide to wait.
Ko believes that he will be able to get a loan from the government to buy some land in order for the family to start over again. He is confident that the American government will help them get a new start. However the bombing of Hiroshima shortly thereafter changes everything and leads to the official end of World War II.
Jeanne observes how people rejoice and celebrate the end of the war. She is pleased that the Japanese-Americans will no longer be the enemies of the American people. The family finally leaves in October with over 2000 people still in the camp.
While Woody is serving in Japan, he meets his great aunt and Ko’s aunt, Aunt Toyo. Toyo has long believed that Ko is dead since there has been no communication between them since he has left for America. She even tells him that they have a gravestone for Ko.
Woody reassures her that Ko is alive and well and living in California. He tells her that he has ten children of which Woody is the second oldest. She takes him around to Tokyo where Woody deals with the stares of those who see him as a traitor. He brings her sugar and because he is Ko’s son, he is well received by other family members.
She takes him through a tranquil garden and into a sacred place that is adorned with traditional Japanese artwork and inscriptions. He is treated like royalty. He asks her questions about his father and Woody is moved to tears when his Aunt remarks that they are very similar. For the first time, Woody has a better understanding of his father and his father’s pride.
After discovering that his livelihood is not waiting for him upon his family’s release, Papa’s idealism and faith in social justice are revealed. He truly believes that the American government will provide his family and others with the financial resources that they will need in order to reestablish themselves now that the war is over.
However with the bombing of Hiroshima and the subsequent end of the war, everything changes. The Japanese are released from the camps and expected to resume life as usual, but with very little relocation assistance. By the time her family leaves, Jeanne recognizes that there are many more who will remain in the camp, those who are not in a hurry to leave and embrace the unknown.
In a flashback sequence, Jeanne recounts Woody’s experience meeting his great Aunt in Tokyo while Woody is fighting in the war. Bearing a striking resemblance to his father in looks and personality, Woody is introduced to his Japanese heritage. It is a heritage that, ironically, he was resistant to claim earlier in the book.
Aunt Toyo gracefully introduces him to his ancestry by showing him artifacts from the family’s past and telling him about his father when his father was younger and more vivacious. Upon hearing these stories, Woody realizes the extent to which is father is a changed man. He gains a greater appreciation and understanding of his father and all that he has endured and sacrificed since his immigration to America many decades before.