"Obasan": The Power Of Dreams Essay

1525 words - 6 pages

Dreams can be a powerful thing. They can show how a person truly feels about something or someone without guilt, kindness, or any other emotions clouding up the true feelings. The subconscious is not concerned with sparing peoples feelings. It only conveys the true emotions that would otherwise remain silent. Dreams are the outlet for the subconscious, its way to let the feelings out. In Obasan, by Joy Kogawa, Naomi expresses her emotions in this way. As the rest of the Japanese-Canadians, Naomi has been traumatized by the discrimination that occurred during the Second World War era. She also suffered from many personal problems. Naomi always felt powerless throughout her life, as if she had no control over it. She has three dreams which express her lack of control. The first dream is filled with confusion and a sudden realization that shows her how little control she actually has. In the second dream, there is a feeling of being used. The third dream shows her fear of death. These emotions follow her throughout her life.The first dream is one of confusion and enlightenment. Naomi dreams of women and men both working without knowing why they laboured. There is a mist, and a British martinet is in command. He had an incredibly obedient robot beast. Her Uncle, Isamu, who has just died, arrives in her dream doing a flower dance. There is a red rose in his mouth. Naomi dreams this is at her Aunt Obasan's house the night she arrives for her Uncle's funeral. This dream is not only about the concentration camps that the Japanese-Canadians were forced to live in, which is the stimulus for many of her dreams. It is also about letting go of her Uncle, both if which make her feel powerless. The dream has an odd mood if confusion. Kogawa writes,'We move without question or reference in an interminable unknowing without rules, without direction. No incident alerts us to an awareness of time. But at some subtle hour, the white mist is known to be grey, and the endlessness of labour has entered our limbs' (34).Naomi is not quite sure why they are doing what they are doing. Yet, for some reason, no one asks anybody for a reason. It does not even matter why the men and women toil. They know that they are not in command, so they work on and on. Then, suddenly, the men and women notice something. 'It happens here, in the heart of the forest. One instant, one fraction of an instant, and a realization is airborne. There is the startle effect of a flock of birds in sudden flight' (34-35). The women and men realize that they are at the mercy of the British martinet. He is the one in command -- the one pulling all the strings. Naomi knows she has no power over anything that happens. This frightens her, and when her uncle appears doing a flower dance she is aware that she is completely powerless. 'He bows a deep ceremonial bow. In his mouth is a red rose with an endless stem. He turns around slowly in a flower dance-a ritual dance of the dead' (35). Naomi now knows that...

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