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CHAPTER 15: "Departures"


With the increasing relaxation of anti-Japanese American policies, more and more families begin to leave Manzanar. Even some of Jeanne's family departs. Shig has returned from the war, and he and Eleanor move to Reno. Woody is called to fight in the war. Ko tells his son that he should refuse to report; after all, twenty-six boys from Tule Lake refused to go to war and a judge in San Francisco ruled in their favor. Woody, however, refuses to listen to his father; he is willing to prove his American loyalties and departs to enter the war. The Wakatsukis worry about leaving Manzanar themselves. They fear that life outside the camp will be hostile. They are also concerned because they have nothing left; everything was lost when they were interred.


Deeply hurt by the attitude of the Americans towards the Japanese-Americans, most young men in Manzanar join the 422nd Combat Regiment, made up of second generation Japanese-Americans; they all want to prove their loyalty to their new country. When Woody is drafted into the war, Ko tries to encourage him not to go; Woody, however, is ready to prove his loyalty. His departure is depressing for the entire family, but they conceal their worries under brave, encouraging smiles.

More and more families are leaving Manzanar, including Shig, Eleanor, and the baby. In truth, there is uncertainty for the future of all the detainees. Three Japanese-Americans have challenged the legitimacy of detention camps. Two fail to win, but the third challenge is triumphant. A judge rules that U.S. detention of American citizens, whether of Japanese ancestry or not, is illegal.

CHAPTER 16: "Free to Go"


The government announces that in the next twelve months, all the camp detainees will be released; but no provisions are made for their return and assimilation into society. Additionally, nothing is done about the property, possessions, and positions lost when they were detained. Those remaining at Manzanar are fearful about living outside, for they have heard about the ongoing hostility towards the Japanese. The Wakatsukis are definitely fearful. They have no place to go. Jeanne's parents want to return to California, even though most of the family has moved to New Jersey.


The news of the camp closings is a mixed blessing for the Japanese-Americans. Of course the Wakatsukis have longed for freedom since the day of their detainment; but their release puts them in a predicament. They have lost everything and have no place to go. Just as they have adjusted to Manzanar and made their quarters habitable, they feel they are being forced into the world with no help or remuneration. They also have a very real fear of being marked as the enemy by their American neighbors. Finally, Ko, now bitter and old, has no ideas about how to start over again.

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