Farewell to Manzanar

by: Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 3

I smiled and sat down, suddenly aware of what being of Japanese ancestry was going to be like. I wouldn’t be faced with physical attack, or with overt shows of hatred. Rather, I would be seen as someone foreign, or as someone other than American, or perhaps not be seen at all.

Jeanne comes to this realization about the true nature of prejudice in Chapter 20, “A Double Impulse,” after her classmate Radine expresses surprise at Jeanne’s ability to speak English. Before the war Jeanne rarely thinks about prejudice and does not even completely understand what it meant to be Japanese. Radine’s reaction, however, forces her to recognize that hatred is not the dark force she imagined would be waiting for her when she left the camp, but rather a quiet undertone in everyday interactions. Radine’s innocent comment is both a compliment and an insult, which makes Jeanne realize that prejudice is not the same as hatred and is not always malicious. Radine intends no harm, but her comment reflects prejudiced beliefs unwittingly inherited from her prejudiced mother, who later refuses to allow Jeanne to join the Girl Scout troop. While Jeanne does not hate Radine for viewing her as “someone other than American,” she finds this perception of herself troubling and later connects the relocation of Japanese Americans with white America’s inability to see the Japanese Americans as individual human beings. The discovery that this kind of prejudice can lie deeply hidden behind even innocent comments strips Jeanne of her naïveté and marks the beginning of her transition from child to adult.