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Joy Kogawa

Chapters 5–7

Chapters 3 and 4

Chapters 5–7, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter 5

Obasan wakes Naomi. They go to the attic, where Obasan searches for something. Naomi sees the tools Grandpa Nakane brought from Japan. Obasan finds an old ID of Uncle’s, signed by an RCMP inspector. As Obasan looks through old possessions, Naomi muses that she and Obasan are trapped by memories of their dead relatives. A glimpse of an old quilt makes her return to the old question of why her mother never came back. As a child, Naomi asked Obasan about her mother, but Obasan provided no information. Now, Obasan can’t find what she is looking for, and Naomi helps her back to bed.

Summary: Chapter 6

Naomi dreams that she and a man encounter another couple in a forest on a mountain. Together, the two couples work at some unknown but necessary task. Suddenly, Naomi sees a giant animal that may be a combination of lion and dog. The animal belongs to the other man, who resembles a British officer. When the animal yawns, Naomi realizes that it is a robot. In an ancient language, the other woman explains a contract between herself and the man. Then Uncle appears with a rose in his mouth, performing a death dance. Naomi sees that the man is wearing an army uniform.

Naomi wakes and goes downstairs. A package from Aunt Emily has arrived. Obasan points to an orange box and says it is what she was looking for in the attic.

Summary: Chapter 7

The package contains a scrapbook, a folder, an envelope, and a journal. On a scrap of paper, Naomi sees that Aunt Emily has written, “ ‘Write the vision and make it plain. Habakkuk 2:2.’ ” Aunt Emily believes in the strength of the Nisei (second generation Japanese Canadians), whereas Naomi thinks the Nisei want only to pass unnoticed. Aunt Emily is a woman of many words, constantly writing, crusading, and attending conferences.

Naomi recalls Aunt Emily’s last post-conference visit to Granton. Aunt Emily had shown Naomi a pamphlet on racial discrimination during and after World War II. According to Aunt Emily, Canada is more racist than the United States. While Japanese were interned in both countries, American Japanese were allowed to retain their property and to form large communities after the war. As Aunt Emily talked about using language to disguise racism, Naomi felt unmoved.

At home, during the same visit, Aunt Emily showed Uncle a WWII-era form letter from the government, demanding that the Japanese hand over their property. There was also a form letter from an official named B. Good explaining that Aunt Emily’s mother’s house now belongs to Canada. Aunt Emily mentioned that the government gave Grandpa Kato three dollars for his Cadillac. Another letter tells Uncle to register as an Enemy Alien. A sixty-page manuscript by Aunt Emily asserts that despite everything that has happened to her, she identifies strongly as a Canadian. Finally, Aunt Emily showed Naomi a scrapbook full of racist newspaper clippings. Naomi wondered if they should leave the past in the past. Uncle said he considered Aunt Emily’s efforts unladylike and un-Japanese. Obasan did not join the conversation. Both Uncle and Obasan expressed gratitude toward Canada.

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