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CHAPTER 17: "Starting All Over"


It is announced that December 1, 1945 is to be the final closing date for Manzanar. As the Wakatsukis begin to make plans for their departure, Hiroshima is bombed in August, and the war soon ends. Ko is tormented, for he does not know if his extended family in Hiroshima is dead or alive. Even his immediate family has been permanently affected by the war and its attendant prejudice against the Japanese. Several of his older children have moved to New Jersey, hoping to escape the racism so prevalent in California during and after the war.

By October, the family knows its departure is eminent; but no definite arrangements have been made. Ko is in a total quandary about what he can do. Since he is an immigrant, he is no longer able to hold a fishing license in the United States as a result of the California Law passed in 1943. Because his old career is forbidden to him, he must find some other way to provide for the family. He plans a co-operative housing project with the help of the other Japanese who have lost their livelihoods because of Manzanar.


The bombing of Hiroshima is a shocking event for Ko, and he is extremely worried about the safety of his extended family that lives there. He is also troubled that his immediate family is now split up, with several of his children moving the New Jersey after the war. His primary concern, however, is how the remaining Wakatsuki family will live after they depart from Manzanar. Ko can no longer provide for them by being a fisherman. It is not surprising that he feels tormented; his emotions range from frustration to outright rage and arrogance at the slightest provocation.

CHAPTER 18: "Ka-Ke, Near Hiroshima: April 1946"


Woody travels to Hiroshima in April of 1946 to find out about the extended family of the Wakatsukis. Having been born in America, he meets several relatives that he has never known. Toyo, the aunt who favored Ko's departure for the United States, takes a special interest in Woody. She takes him to see a memorial tombstone honoring his father, who was declared dead in 1913.

The visit to Japan is crucial to Woody's acceptance of himself and his position in the world. He feels a new identify with his past by seeing where his family has come from.


This chapter is about Woody, who travels to Hiroshima to meet any surviving relatives of the extended Wakatsuki family. In Japan, he is able to trace his father's past and learn about his great ancestral pride. He witnesses the dignity of the Japanese people in spite of all the damage done to their lives and property by the bomb. The fact that they welcome Woody in spite of his being an American soldier shows the honest and loyal ties of family. In the course of his Japanese visit, Woody establishes his own identity.

Jeanne writes this section with compassion and understanding. She believes that if her relatives in Japan are able to overlook the fact that Woody was fighting against his homeland and welcome him so warmly as one of their own, then all the Wakatsukis in America will somehow be able to find the strength to survive the changing face of their own lives. Structurally, this chapter provides some relief for the rising tension of the Wakatsukis in Manzanar. By transporting the narrative to another time and place, Jeanne provides perspective, change of scene, and a welcome reassurance that everything will be all right.

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