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CHAPTER 11: "Yes Yes No No"


In February 1943, the Japanese men in camp are expected to sign the Government Loyalty Oath, pledging allegiance to America. Each male must mark two boxes to indicate whether he is allied with the United States and whether he will go to war against Japan. Woody, without any problem, plans to fill in the form with two yes answers; he wants to prove his allegiance to America. In contrast, Ko is opposed to the Loyalty Oath; he does not believe that America wants the allegiance of Japanese-Americans. He feels that internment at the camp proves that Japanese-American citizens are not valued in United States. Ko also cannot bear to think of going to war to fight those members of his family still in Japan. He feels so strongly about the entire issue that he actually remains sober to attend a meeting in the mess hall.

At the meeting, Ko tries to defend his position, but is called "inu." He unsuccessfully fights with his accuser and eventually decides to fill out the questions by marking yes answers. He is then persuaded to go home. After his return home, Jeanne watches as her father sings the Japanese national anthem with tears in his eyes.


The fact that Ko debates Woody about pledging allegiance to the United States on the Loyalty Oath does not mean he is a traitor to America, nor is it intended to seem that way. In truth, Jeanne sees her father as a compassionate man who cannot bear to see his oldest son stand up in arms against the country of their origin. Ko also tells Woody that he himself would never make a good American soldier, for he would never find America's cause just. Though he is loyal to America, works hard, and leads an honest life, his heart cries out for his native Japan. But Ko knows he would have no future in Japan; he also knows he would be sent home if he fills in his form with "No" answers. With a heavy heart, he answers "Yes."


CHAPTER 12: "Manzanar, U.S.A."


In the spring of 1943, the Wakatsukis shift to another block in Manzanar. Block 28 is prettier and more spacious; it is also located near picturesque pear orchards that will become Ko's life. Security is also eased, improving living conditions. Ko keeps himself busy carving, painting and making a rock garden. The Wakatsukis, as well as the other internees, have come to accept their imprisonment as a way of life and try to make Manzanar more habitable. Concerts, dances, movies, clubs, and social events create a new atmosphere of "normality" in Manzanar. While some Japanese are now being allowed to leave the camp, others remain simply because it is easier than facing a tense, often inhospitable world that still does not trust them. Woody convinces his family that Manzanar is the best place for them for the present.

At the end of the chapter, Jeanne describes a woman walking by the edge of the camp with her dog. The barbed wires are out of sight behind her. Though they still adorn the camp, they have lost some of their power, especially since some of the Japanese have now gone beyond them. The picture that Jeanne sees is symbolic: Manzanar has lost its confining power.


Through the description of Manzanar in this chapter, it is obvious that the tense and frustrated atmosphere of the camp has become a thing of the past. Life for the Japanese-Americans has become more pleasant and "normal," and Manzanar offers them a safe environment away from a society that still does not trust them. Though some Japanese-Americans have been allowed to leave the camp, the Wakatsukis choose to remain for the present, for the war is still not over.

Ko has come to terms with some of his sense of anguish. He finds some small pleasure in carving, painting and making a rock garden. Jeanne sums up his newfound peace with this description of Mount Whitney, the California mountain that reminds Ko of Japan's Mount Fujiyama. She understands that there are "powerful and inevitable forces that cannot be resisted" and that "remind a man that sometimes he must simply endure that which cannot be changed."

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