Free Study Guide for Farewell To Manzanar-BookNotes|
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In this chapter, the author interrupts the normal chronology of the narrative to comment and reflect upon the roles of her father; she sees him as a political prisoner, a husband, a father, and simply as a man. She recalls the story of his youthful days in Japan, when he was essentially idealistic and snobbish, largely due to the fact that he came from a respectable family of Samurais. He worked as a public official, a job that made him feel important and proud. But over the years, the status of the Wakatsuki family declined. His father turned to running a teahouse in order to support his family. Ko, feeling humiliated by his father's occupation and the family's decline in social status, left Hiroshima for America, with the blessing of his favorite aunt. Upon arriving in the United States, Ko is proud and ambitious, certain that he can carve out the American Dream for himself. He begins to work as a houseboy, then as a law student, lumberjack, and dental assistant, always working hard to get ahead. He marries Mama, in spite of the protests offered by her family; they actually have to elope because of the disapproval of her parents. The couple settles in Seattle, Oregon; he works as a cook, and she works as a nurse and dietician until her oldest child is born. After the first child, another baby arrives every two years for the next eighteen years of her marriage to Ko; Jeanne is the youngest child.
Jeanne recalls that prior to the war, Papa and Mama celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary. Shortly afterwards, Papa was arrested, taken away and imprisoned, only because he was a Japanese living in America. When he is released and comes to Manzanar, Jeanne sees that he is a changed man. Still, however, Wakatsuki is respected by his peers; he even acts as a mediator between the authorities and prisoners of war. Part of his recognition comes because he is one of the few Japanese who speaks good English.
This chapter is solely dedicated to Jeanne's father, as indicated by the title "Whatever He Did Had Flourish." Jeanne explains the reason why Ko came to America, how he worked hard and when he married her mother. It seems to be a fairly honest, accurate, and objective portrait of Ko. Even though she criticizes her father as a braggart and extremely proud man, who always tries to have an audience and give a performance, it is obvious, from the chapter title and Jeanne's description, that she had a great deal of respect and admiration for the man she called Papa. She openly praises his strengths of character, which include hard work and adaptability.
Ko strives hard to make the American dream work for him and his family. His great sense of pride drives him to provide the best possible; when he is accused of treason and imprisoned, it destroys his pride and his sense of purpose. He feels that he loses everything he has achieved in America. He begins to drink to excess and to work far too little, leaving the burden on Mama.
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. 09 May 2017