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CHAPTER 21: "The Girl of my Dreams"


Jeanne goes to Long Beach Polytechnic High School, where racism against Japanese students is present. None of the boys ask her out because she is Japanese. Her friend Radine, on the other hand, is very popular and included in most social events. Jeanne is always crushed when she herself is left out.

Jeanne's father grows ill as a result of his drinking. Hoping to improve his health, he decides to move from Long Beach to the valley outside San Jose. It is a good move for the family. Ko finally goes to work, tending strawberries. Jeanne finds that she is accepted at the San Jose high school, where she is elected Carnival Queen, Her father disapproves of what Jeanne has become, but her mother supports her.


This chapter presents Jeanne's teenage years as an understandably painful and frustrating period of adolescence. As a Japanese girl in a world dominated by blue-eyed blondes, Jeanne has difficulty fitting in and being included in social events. She is never asked out on a date. In truth, Long Beach Polytechnic brings her nothing but pain, although she is a good student. Even her best friend, Radine, unintentionally causes Jeanne pain; she is everything that Jeanne wants and cannot be. Jeanne, however, is not envious or resentful towards her popular Caucasian friend; instead, there is a curious detachment as she watches Radine and abandons her own hope of ever being popular herself. Jeanne knows that she is helpless to alter her heritage or fate.

When the family relocates to San Jose, life improves for the whole Wakatsuki family. Ko gets a job tending strawberries and Jeanne quickly fits in to her new school. She is even confident enough to enter and win a pageant, even though one of the teachers is opposed to a Japanese girl becoming Queen. Her father also resents that Jeanne has participated in the very American pageant and been crowned the queen; he still feels his daughter should be less American and more Japanese.

The Carnival ball is a painful disappointment for Jeanne, even though she is the queen. She realizes that her dress is old-fashioned and inappropriate in comparison to the dresses of her attendants. Young Jeanne is forced to see how her heritage will always affect how she fits into the new world into which she has been thrown. It is a difficult time for her, full of self-hatred, and the book masterfully captures the pain in carefully written passages.

CHAPTER 22: "Ten Thousand Voices"


By this final chapter, some thirty years have passed since Jeanne was at Manzanar. Her life has been happy, ambitious, progressive and successful. She graduated from college, the only Wakatsuki to do so. She is also the only person in her family to marry a white, rather than an oriental. At the time she returns to Manzanar to come to grips with her past, she has three children of her own. The return to Manzanar is the beginning of a journey that will end with the publication of the memoir.

During her visit to the old camp, Jeanne realizes many things about Manzanar. First, it is an experience she has long tried to forget and diminish in importance. In fact, there were times in her past when she tried to convince herself that Manzanar had only been a dream. Now that she bravely faces the reality of the camp and her own unique Japanese-American heritage, she realizes it is cathartic, much like Woody's journey back to Hiroshima. She watches in amazement as her children wander around the deserted campgrounds, bored and restless. She returns to her children and says that they are right, Manzanar is "no place for kids." In the security of her husband and her own family, she leaves Manzanar behind forever.


This chapter tells of Jeanne's trip back to Manzanar when she is an adult, approximately thirty years after she left the camp. In it the author tries to come to terms with Manzanar in her life and to give a final summary of the events she has woven together throughout the memoir. It is a finely wrought chapter full of poignant memories. As she sees the places where her childhood was spent and smells the fragrances that she has carried from there through life, she accepts that she must deal with the reality of Manzanar throughout her existence; but she is determined to make it a less painful experience. As a result, she writes the memoir, with the help of her husband, as her final catharsis.

It is her own children that really allow Jeanne to put Manzanar in the proper perspective. As she watches them wander restlessly through the deserted campgrounds of her youth, she decides that Manzanar was no place for children. She is then able to bid a final physical and spiritual "Farewell to Manzanar."

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