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Farewell to Manzanar
author Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston
type of work Nonfiction
genre Historical memoir; bildungsroman, or coming-of-age
time and place written
Santa Cruz, California
date of first publication
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
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
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