Coming Of Age In A Wartime Environment

1034 words - 4 pages

Growing up in a wartime environment affects the identities, confidence and adolescence process for many people. In the books, The Diary of A Young Girl, Farewell to Manzanar, and Night, World War II accelerates Anne’s, Jeanne’s and Elie’s precious maturity and coming of age process. World War II, the Nazis and their identity of being Jewish forces Anne and Elie to grow up and mature much sooner than expected. For Jeanne Wakatsuki, World War II have a negative impact on Jeanne’s confidence and she starts to lose respect towards her Japanese heritage. All three of them are struggling to find out who they truly are. Anne Frank, Jeanne Wakatsuki and Elie Wiesel all are greatly affected by the war, but in different milieus and in different scenarios.

Anne Frank was a 13-year-old Jewish girl who was thrown into one of the worst periods in the history of the world; the Holocaust. Though she went through awful things that many people will never experience, she always kept the faith that there was still some good in everyone. She once said, “Despite everything I still believe people are truly good at heart.” Her diary, which she kept while her family was in hiding from the Nazis, shows the triumph of her spirit over the evil in the world even through the pain of adolescence. The Franks and Van Dans were hiding and they suffered many hardships, mentally and physically. Many people in Anne’s situation would have become bitter and resentful, but Anne never would despair.

Unlike Anne Frank and Elie Wiesel who accepts the fact that their race is causing them to suffer, Jeanne Wakatsuki in Farewell to Manzanar divulge that she often feels very intolerable and inhibited about her race. During and after World War II, there’s a very brutal attitude towards the Japanese-Americans. Although Jeanne was too young to understand the reasons for her family’s imprisonment, but maybe on a subliminal level, it affects how Jeanne grows up and the way she views her own race and culture. When she begins to try various activities offered in her internment camp, she demurs away from Japanese related hobbies. Instead, she tries the “American activities” such as baton twirling, aspiring to be accepted.

Jeanne rather be an American, a race that everyone in America accepts. “I still had a Japanese father to frighten my boyfriends and a Japanese face to thwart my social goals.” (89)To Jeanne, Japanese, is not just a race that put her in prison but something that also hinders her from the goals that she always wanted to achieve. She wants to be accepted and live like any normal American. Jeanne doesn’t want to be someone that everyone likes, but no one, especially Jeanne, wants to be outlawed.

Through her adolescence, Jeanne is ashamed of being Japanese. At Jeanne’s award dinner/ ceremony, her father mortify her, by creating a perceptible array between her and the other families.   “He was unforgivably a foreigner then, foreign to them, foreign to me,...

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