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Joy Kogawa's Obasan Essay

738 words - 3 pages


     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...

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