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Free Study Guide for Farewell To Manzanar-BookNotes

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The major stylistic feature with which this heart-rending autobiography is narrated is its simple and lucid prose. It is objective, like a report, and avoids the irrelevant details that are a feature of many whimsical childhood memoirs. At the same time, the sympathy and admiration of a young girl for her family and her childhood is not obscured by factual accuracy. The narrator displays immense control over her emotions and never seeks the unearned sympathy of the reader. The authors have also successfully incorporated historical events into a personal narrative. Japanese songs, phrases and words are comfortably woven into the fabric of the novel. In spite of being an autobiographical story, Farewell to Manzanar is a work of tremendous social and historical importance and reads almost like a novel.


1. "When your mother and your father are having a fight, do you want them to kill each other? Or do you just want them to stop fighting?" Ko compares the war between Japan and America to arguing parents. Explain the meaning of this comparison and its impact on the entire memoir.

2. Compare and contrast the journeys of acceptance made by Woody and his sister Jeanne. How are they similar? How do they differ?

3. Some of the most emotionally charged moments in the novel are relayed almost impartially, such as when Ko is imprisoned and when the war ends. How does this narrative style benefit the story? Why do you think Jeanne chooses to remain so objective?

4. Compare and contrast Mama and Ko. How do you feel about each character? How does Jeanne seem to feel about them?

5. Explain how and why Jeanne's life is easier at Manzanar than for the other family members.

6. Explain the difficulties that Jeanne encounters at Long Beach Polytechnic High.

7. Woody is an optimist. How does this facet of his character help the family survive their internment?

8. The Executive Order was basically a government-sanctioned form of racism. How did this widespread approval promote racial discrimination against Japanese-Americans in general and the Wakatsukis in specific?

9. Who or what is the antagonist of the memoir? Explain your response fully.

10. Justify the title of the book Farewell to Manzanar in terms of Jeanne's experiences.

11. Describe the structure of the novel Farewell to Manzanar, paying particular attention to its three-part scheme.

12. What is the major theme of the novel and how is it developed?

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