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The climax is a two-fold event: Hiroshima is bombed and the camp closing is announced. The bombing of Hiroshima is climactic because it represents a painfully bittersweet blessing. Ko and his family live in America, escaping the direct affects of the bomb; but all of Ko's ancestors -- his grandparents, his aunts and uncles, his entire heritage -- is bound up in Hiroshima. When his new country bombs his native one, it is an event fraught with fear and anxiety for the Wakatsukis. At the same time, however, it marks the end of the war and the subsequent closure of the American relocation camps. Ironically, Ko's family is destroyed in Hiroshima so that his family can be restored in America.
The camp closing is climactic because it thrusts the Wakatsukis back into "normal" society. With the onset of the war, Japanese-Americans were cruelly thrust into concentration camps and forced to live under guarded supervision. At first, the injustice was unbearable. But eventually it became livable and ultimately comfortable. The closing of the camps forces yet another injustice on an already beleaguered population: they have lost everything and are sent back into the world with nothing.
Some thirty years after her family leaves Manzanar, Jeanne is able to make some sense of her childhood by returning to the site of the camp. She has been educated and trained as a sociologist and is a mother and wife in her own right. In telling her story and revisiting the places of her past, she is able to overcome the shame and confusion caused by the war and her family's confinement. Education, perspective, and maturity help her accept her past and stop denying the pain Manzanar caused. The memoir is a cathartic exercise: it helps her to say a final farewell to Manzanar.
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. 09 May 2017