The protagonist and author of Farewell to Manzanar
Jeanne is the youngest of the Wakatsuki children and Papa’s favorite.
She observes and comments on her own and her family’s experiences before,
during, and after the wartime internment. In the beginning of the
narrative she is a naïve seven-year-old, but as she grows older,
she loses her naïveté and comes to understand the true nature of
the camps, her family, and herself.
Papa (George Ko Wakatsuki)
Jeanne’s father and the patriarch of the American
branch of the Wakatsuki family. Papa is a first-generation Japanese
immigrant with a strong sense of honor. His experience shows how
unfair accusations hurt many Japanese families: when the FBI accuses
Papa of being a Japanese spy, his relationship with his family deteriorates
and he becomes an alcoholic.
Mama (Rigu Sukai Wakatsuki)
Jeanne’s mother. Patient and caring with her children
and husband, Mama places a high value on privacy and dignity. Despite
Papa’s violent treatment of her while at Manzanar, she is the first
member of the Wakatsuki family to make amends with Papa, demonstrating
her commitment to family.
Woodrow “Woody” Wakatsuki
The third Wakatsuki child. Woody is the most fatherly
of Jeanne’s brothers and takes charge when Papa is detained for
a year at Fort Lincoln. Woody demonstrates his loyalty to America by
joining the U.S. army.
The ninth Wakatsuki child and Jeanne’s closest brother.
Kiyo shares many experiences with Jeanne, including being ambushed
by children in the Japanese ghetto on Terminal Island and being
spat at and called a “dirty Jap” by an old woman in Long Beach.
The second Wakatsuki child and Jeanne’s oldest sister.
Eleanor leaves the camp with her husband, Shig, to relocate to Reno,
Nevada, but returns to the camp when Shig is drafted. She gives
birth to a baby boy, which leads Mama and Papa to a reconciliation.
The oldest Wakatsuki child. Along with Woody, Bill
serves as one of Papa’s crew before the war on his sardine boats.
In the camp, he is the leader of a dance band called The Jive Bombers.
brother-in-law and Martha’s husband. Kaz is stopped by a detachment
of frightened military police while monitoring the reservoir with
his crew on the night of the December Riot.
aging aunt in Hiroshima, Japan. Woody visits Toyo in 1946
is impressed by the dignity of her graceful manner and the rich
meal she prepares for him in spite of her family’s poverty. Woody
comes to see this dignity in the face of difficulty as a Wakatsuki
white best friend at Cabrillo Homes in Long Beach after the war.
Radine’s surprise at Jeanne’s ability to speak English makes Jeanne
realize that while she will not be attacked for being Japanese,
she will always be seen as different and not American. Radine’s popularity
and recognition in high school further underscore the fundamental
difference between her and Jeanne, whose Japanese ancestry makes
her an outsider.
Jeanne’s classmate at her new high school in San
Jose. Leonard’s willingness to be friends with Jeanne despite her
outsider status is admirable and contrasts with their teachers’
inherent prejudice against Japanese people.
American military man who questions Papa at Fort Lincoln, North
Dakota. The interrogator’s grilling of Papa on his personal history
and his accusation that Papa supplied oil to Japanese submarines
represents the U.S. government’s tendency to stereotype Japanese Americans
leader of the Japanese American Citizens League and suspected collaborator
with the U.S. government. On December 5
Tayama is severely beaten, and the arrest of his attackers leads
to the December Riot at Manzanar.
Mitsue Endo, Fred Korematsu, Gordon Hirabayashi
The Japanese Americans whose Supreme Court cases
lead to the eventual closing of the camps in 1944
mother, sixty-five at the time of the relocation to Manzanar. Granny’s
inability to go to the mess halls is one reason that the Wakatsuki
family stops eating together.
wife. Chizu is on the wharf with Jeanne and Mama when the news of
the attack on Pearl Harbor is announced.