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Japanese Internment

Japanese Internment

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Japanese Internment

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  1. Japanese Internment • 1941, December 7--the bombing of Pearl Harbor • 1942--evacuation of Canadian Japanese (Nikkei) from the Pacific Coast--the great mass movement in the history of Canada (Obasan 92-93)--21,000 people moved • 1949--Nikkei allowed to return to B.C. • 1980s--redress movement • 1988--formal apology to Nikkei+ $21,000 (Cdn.) to the survivors • differences from the relocation of Japanese Americans--dispersal of family members--men sent to road camps in the interior of B.C., sugar beet projects on the Prairies, POW camp in Ontario

  2. Joy Kogawa--Biographical Sketch • born in Vancouver, B.C. in 1935 • relocated to Slocan and Coaldale, Alberta during and after WWII • Selected Publications: • Obasan. 1983. • Woman in the Woods. 1985. • Naomi's Road. 1986. • Itsuka. 1993. • The Rain Ascends. 1995.

  3. Awards for Obasan • Books in Canada, First Novel Award. • Canadian Authors Association, Book of the Year Award. • Periodical Distributors of Canada, Best Paperback Fiction Award. • Before Columbus Foundation, The American Book Award.

  4. Obasan--Family Trees Grandma Nakane Grandpa Nakane Kato Ayako (Obasan) 1891- Isamu (Sam) 1889-1972 Father (Mark) Mother Emily 1916- Stephen 1933- Naomi 1936- stillborn

  5. Timeline • 1893--Grandpa Nakane arrived in Canada • 1941--Mother returned to Japan • 1942--Vancouver Hastings Park prison • 1945--the bombing of Nagasaki • 1951--moved to Granton • 1954--the first visit to the coulee • 1972--narrative present--Uncle’s death

  6. Imagery of Stone • What is the significance of the stone imagery? • The bible--“a white stone”--”a new name written” • epigraph--“The word is stone.” • Uncle’s stone bread (15-16) • Discuss other imagery in the novel --(ex) the coulee/ the ocean/ uncle and Chief Sitting Bull/ the family as a knit blanket (24-25)

  7. Gender and National Identities • How does Naomi describe herself and the two aunts and why? • Naomi--sansei--spinster, tense (9), numb (41) • Obasan--issei--ancient(14, 18-19), language of grief--silence (17) • Emily--nisei-- energetic, visionary (38), “word warrior” (39), “white blood cells” (41)/ Canadian identity--“This is my own, my native land” • Mother--kibei--born in Canada, raised in Japan-- “yasashi kokro” (56)

  8. Language and Silence • “To the issei, honor and dignity is expressed through silence, the twig bending with the wind….The sansei view silence as a dangerous kind of cooperation with the enemy.” --Joy Kagawa in an interview with Susan Yim

  9. Memories • Imagery of memories • A yellow wallet-sized ID card (29) • spider web (29-31) • Naomi’s first dream (33-35) • the parcel--like the stone bread (37)/ B.Good letter (44-45)/ Emily’s manuscript--“The Story of the Nisei in Canada” /newspaper clippings/ the two letters in Japanese • the leftovers (54) • To remember or not to?