Farewell To Manzanar


In the true story "Farewell to Manzanar" we learn of a young girl\'s life
as she grows up during World War II in a Japanese internment camp. Along with
her family and ten thousand other Japanese we see how, as a child, these
conditions forced to shape and mold her life. This book does not directly place
blame or hatred onto those persons or conditions which had forced her to endure
hardship, but rather shows us through her eyes how these experiences have held
value 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 be
going fine, her father owning two fishing boats, and they lived in a large house
with a large dining table which was located in an entirely non-Japanese
neighborhood. The surprise attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese was the
moment Jeanne\'s life was critically altered. This started WWII and all Japanese
were 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 Jeanne\'s
rapidly aging grandmother and her nine brothers and sisters. Too young to
understand, Jeanne did not know why or where her father had been taken. But she
did know that one very important part of her was gone.
Jeanne\'s father was a very strong, military-like, proud, arrogant, and
dignified man. He was the one who was always in control, and made all the
decisions 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 family
behind and never contacting them ever again. But now it was time for Jeanne\'s
family to do something. They found refuge at Terminal Island, a place where
many Japanese families live either in some transition stage or for permanent
residents. Jeanne was terrified. " It was the first time I had lived among
other 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, "I\'m going to
sell you to the Chinaman." So when Jeanne saw all these Japanese kids she
assumed she was being sold. They were soon given 48 hrs. to find a new place to
stay. Again they found refuge in a minority ghetto in Boyle Heights, Los
Angeles. But then the government issued Executive Order 9066 which gave the War
Dept. power to define military areas in the western states. Anyone who could
possibly threaten the war effort (Japanese) were going to be transported to
internment camps. As Jeanne boarded the Greyhound bus someone tied a number tag
to her collar and one to her duffel bag. So, for now on all families had
numbers to which they could be identified. No longer people, but animals
hearded off to some unknown place. This was to be their destiny for the rest of
the war, and long after.
Being a child, Jeanne was too young to comprehend what all this really
meant. She knew that her dad was away and her family was moving a lot. At
first, for Jeanne this seemed exciting, like an adventure, since she had never
been outside of L.A. before. Jeanne is a Nissei, a natural born citizen of the
United States. But, again this really didn\'t mean much to her. What could she
do, and what could she know? Up to this point her life had been relatively
simple. As a 7-yr. old one doesn\'t really no much of life anyway! This was
soon to change for her, as she is now being forced into a world guarded behind
barbed wire.
Manzanar, located near Lone Pine, California was the camp Jeanne\'s
family, kept together only by an effort made by Jeanne\'s mother, was assigned to.
The conditions were raw, cold, windy and unfriendly. In a sense a metaphor for
Jeanne, their treatment, and the unstable condition of her family and life.
10,000 Japanese shoved into a quarter mile piece of dust-land surrounded with
barbed wire, and guard towers. The living quarters were shabbily constructed
wooden barracks which didn\'t provide any shelter from the blistering