Farewell to Manzanar
full title · Farewell to Manzanar
author · Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
type of work · Nonfiction
genre · Historical memoir; bildungsroman, or coming-of-age story
language · English
time and place written · 1972–1973; Santa Cruz, California
date of first publication · 1973
publisher · San Francisco Book Company / Houghton Mifflin
narrator · Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
point of view · The narrator speaks in the first person and describes the events and characters as she herself witnessed them, with the exception of the chapters “Fort Lincoln: An Interview,” “The Reservoir Shack: An Aside,” and “Ka-ke, Near Hiroshima: April, 1946,” where she switches to third person to describe the experiences of Papa, Kaz, and Woody respectively.
tone · Houston is observational throughout much of the book, relating her memories of her experiences and emotions. Toward the end of the work, when Houston revisits Manzanar to confront her past, her narrative becomes nostalgic and less straightforward.
tense · Houston tells the story primarily in the past tense, with occasional shifts to reflect her thoughts and feelings as she writes.
setting (time) · December 1942–April 1972
setting (place) · The California cities of Long Beach, Los Angeles, Manzanar, and San Jose
protagonist · Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
major conflict · Jeanne struggles to gain acceptance in white American society and to find her own identity as a Japanese-American woman.
rising action · After being forced to leave the Manzanar Relocation Camp, the Wakatsukis try to reintegrate themselves into American society, but Jeanne’s attempts to gain acceptance at school are blocked by the unspoken prejudice of her classmates and teachers in Long Beach.
climax · Jeanne’s high school in San Jose elects her carnival queen, but Papa accuses her of flaunting her sexuality and trying to be American.
falling action · Jeanne conforms to Papa’s wishes and wears a conservative dress for the coronation ceremony, but the crowd’s murmuring makes her realize that neither the exotic nor the conservative versions of herself represent her true identity.
themes · Internment’s destruction of family life; the everyday nature of prejudice; the difficulty of understanding one’s identity
motifs · Displacement; Americana
symbols · Stones; Jeanne’s dream
foreshadowing · The sardine fleet’s slow return to the harbor foreshadows the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor; Papa’s burning of his flag and documents foreshadows his arrest and interrogation as a suspected spy.
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