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An Analysis of Joy Kogawa’s excerpt from Obasan. United we stand, divided we fall.—Aesop By: Alexis White, Hannah Bush, and Madeline Trimble. What or Theme Statement.

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an analysis of joy kogawa s excerpt from obasan

An Analysis of Joy Kogawa’s excerpt from Obasan

United we stand, divided we fall.—Aesop

By: Alexis White, Hannah Bush, and Madeline Trimble

what or theme statement
What or Theme Statement
  • The Japanese Canadians from the excerpt in Joy Kogawa’sObasanmentally distanced themselves from their past lives and each other in order to endure hardships, and ironically the distance between them became the hardships they are working to mend.
how or literary elements
How or Literary Elements
  • Irony
  • Diction
  • Change in Perspective
  • Metaphors
  • Theme
  • Repetition
  • Symbols
slide4
Irony and diction are used to showcase the fact that they are connected as a community, yet fail to stick together through challenges.
  • Lines 3-4: “…an air overladen with weeping. Behind us lies a salty sea, within which swim our drowning specks of memory—our small waterlogged eulogies.” (irony and diction)
  • Lines 39-40: “Stephen sits sideways on a seat by himself opposite us, his huge white leg like a cocoon.” (diction)
  • Lines 41-43: “But even strangers are addressed as “ojisan” or “obasan,” meaning uncle or aunt.” (irony)
change in point of view plays into the complexity of their connection
Change in point of view plays into the complexity of their connection.
  • First Section:

-“We”

-“We are the Issei and the Nisei and the Sansei, the Japanese Canadians.” (26-27)

-“We are the scholarly and the illiterate, the envied and the ugly, the fierce and the docile.” (19-21)

  • Last Section:
    • “I”
    • “…I am a small child resting my head in Obasan’s lap.”
slide6
Metaphors also play into their complex connection as well as how this complex connection plays into their past.
  • Lines 9-17: “We are hammers and chisels in the hands of would-be sculptors….We are the chips and sand, the fragments of fragments…of the rock. We are the silences….We are the despised….We are the man in the Gospel of John...”
  • Line 29: “The memories are dream images.”
  • Line 92: “tying the corners together”
slide7
The common theme of failure through disconnect is used to emphasize the importance of union in a community.
  • Lines 16-18: “…born into the world for the sake of the light.”
  • Line 9: “We are hammers and chisels in the hands of would-be sculptors...”
  • Lines 88-90: “But I pull back. ‘For the baby,’ Obasan says urging me. I withdraw farther into my seat.”
slide8

Repetition and symbolism are utilized in this piece to represent how they are working to mend the distance between them in order to overcome their hardships.

  • Lines 37, 51, 52, & 61: “Red”
  • Lines 66 & 69: “Nod”
  • Lines 95 & 97: “Clutch”
  • Lines 98-99: “…bows forward twice while accepting Obasan’s gift without looking up.”
how is this relatable to life
How is this relatable to life?

When wild animals stray from the pack they become detached and therefore suffer.