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Free Study Guide for Farewell To Manzanar-BookNotes

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CHAPTER 19: "Re-entry"


This chapter returns to the Wakatsukis in Manzanar. Ko's pride is piqued when it is time to leave the camp; he declares his family will not leave on a bus. Against Mama's better judgment, he buys a car and makes three trips across California to take his family back to the coast. They settle in a housing project in west Long Beach, after discovering that the warehouse in which they had stored their essential items has been robbed. Jeanne's mother finds an opening for work in a fish cannery while her father pursues his futile dream of making a co-operative housing project for the Japanese-American internees.


This chapter reveals some of Mama's character, which has been overshadowed in the past by Ko. She is probably the most balanced character, dealing with all that assails her family calmly and coolly. She is always the steady breadwinner for the family, whether working in a cannery or as a dietician. Whether Ko is drinking himself into oblivion or dreaming impossible dreams, Mama is working to provide for the children. Difficult situations make her silent and brooding, but she never loses her composure. Ko, for his part, is too proud to face his present situation of destitution. Rather than face his situation and possibly take a menial job, he becomes absorbed in dreams and allows his wife to bear the burden of survival alone.

CHAPTER 20: "A Double Impulse"


Life on the outside is very difficult for Jeanne. She is denied admission into the Girl Scouts because of her heritage and many parents object to their children's friendship with her. To compensate, she tries to become as American as possible. The more Jeanne tries to portray herself as a typical girl from the United States, the more her father wants to draw her toward her Japanese background. The two opposing forces tear at her, leaving her confused and frustrated. The result is the "double impulse" she speaks of in the title of the chapter. On one hand, she wants to shrink away and be unnoticed so as not to be rejected. On the other hand, she wants to prove her worth; as a result she overachieves, becoming an excellent student and baton twirler. Her father is not so successful. His plans for the cooperative, as well as his attempts at drying seafood, fail miserably.


Jeanne's re-introduction into a normal American classroom is full of anxiety and unhappiness. The other students discriminate against her. They are surprised to find out she can actually speak English, which shocks Jeanne. The alienation continues with her exclusion from groups and friendships. Jeanne blames herself for these rejections and resolves to overcome them by proving herself. She pushes herself to excel in her studies and in baton twirling.

The pressures that she puts herself under, coupled with the discrimination that she feels, transform Jeanne from a happy, energetic child into a self-conscious young girl who would like to become invisible in order to escape the disapproval of others. In an effort to fit in, Jeanne finds herself trying to deny everything Japanese; her denials make her father push her more towards her Japanese heritage.

Eventually, Jeanne's skill in baton twirling gives her some acceptability. She is chosen as the leader in the drum and bugle corps and becomes friends with one of the girls who was surprised that she could speak good English.

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