Farewell to Manzanar

by: Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

I feel no malice toward this girl. I don’t even envy her. Watching, I am simply emptied, and in the dream I want to cry out, because she is something I can never be, some possibility in my life that can never be fulfilled.

In Chapter 21, “The Girl of my Dreams,” Jeanne explains the recurring dream she has had ever since witnessing Radine’s sudden rise in popularity in high school. The girl in the dream is beautiful and blonde, admired by all, and represents Jeanne’s desire for acceptance. Jeanne too wants to be admired, but she does not envy or hate the dream girl, just as she does not hate Radine for her successes. Jeanne’s lack of envy and hate shows a remarkable maturity but also reflects the resignation and sadness of realizing that her dreams can never come true. She says her inability to achieve her goals makes her want to scream, but she does not cry out, which shows the extent to which she has accepted prejudice against those of Japanese ancestry as a simple fact of life. Even though she is hurt when her friends’ parents exclude her, she never speaks out in protest; instead she blames herself for being different. As a teenager, she is less troubled by being treated differently than by having to watch others achieve what she cannot. It is not the dream girl herself that she resents, but the window that lets her look but not touch. This frustration leads to resignation, and the collective weight of five years of resignation eventually turns the image of her dream girl into a grim reminder that leaves her “emptied” of hope that things will ever change.