full title · Obasan
author · Joy Kogawa
type of work · Novel
genre · Historical fiction
language · English
time and place written · Toronto, Canada, 1981
date of first publication · 1981
publisher · Anchor
narrator · Naomi Nakane
point of view · First person
tone · Elegiac, lyrical, impassioned
tense · Present
setting (time) · 1972 and World War II
setting (place) · Canada
protagonist · Naomi Nakane
major conflict · Naomi struggles to come to grips with her painful past.
rising action · Naomi’s Uncle dies, precipitating a series of recollections.
climax · Naomi discovers what happened to her mother.
falling action · Naomi returns to the coulee.
themes · The benefits of silence; the dubious necessity of remembering; the difficulty of balancing cultures
motifs · Red; military men; the sea
symbols · Obasan’s house; spiders
foreshadowing · The spiders that scuttle around in the attic foreshadow the onslaught of Naomi’s memories; Naomi’s throwaway phrase “slow can go” foreshadows Rough Lock’s tale; the death of the chicks foreshadows the sexual abuse Naomi suffers.
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