I decided to read the novel by Joy Kogawa entitled Obasan. The
novel was written in 1981 and told the details of how the Japanese were
discriminated against during World War 2. The author's main purpose was
to educated the reader on how hard life really was for her family and
other Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia, and especially in
Vancouver. Joy Kogawa tried to show how ignorant British Columbians
really were, and that we still do not fully understand what really
happened during the war. She also tries to teach Canadians the culture
of the Japanese.
The novel starts in the seventies with Naomi a teacher in
Northern Alberta finding out that her uncle has died. When Naomi returns
home to console her Aunt Obasan, she begins to relive the difficulties of
her life. She recounts the struggle against the government and
themselves while trying to stay in Vancouver. Naomi is very small at the
time of the war and did not really fully understand what was happening to
her race. The novel recounts the struggle of Naomi's Aunt Emily to
ensure that her family would be together in whatever place they were sent
to. Aunt Emily wanted to head east to Toronto, but was unable to get the
documentation for the entire family which included her sister children,
who she was taking care of. The novel discuses the camps that the
Japanese families were sent to in Hastings Park during the war. It
described the treatment the families received while there, including the
lack of food and the smell of manure. Naomi during this time was being
sexually molested by her next door neighbor and did not tell anybody
about this. Naomi seems resentful during the novel, as she comes across
as a quiet little girl, who does not seem to interact with many people.
Aunt Emily finally finds a place in Slocan for the family to go live, but
just before they leave finds out her and her immediate family could go to
Toronto. This leaves Aunt Emily going to Toronto and everybody else
moving to Toronto. In the end almost everybody ends up dying.
The novel had...