Election Day is November 3rd! Make sure your voice is heard

Obasan

Characters

Stephen

Characters Stephen

Stephen is a sensitive and talented boy whose personality is warped by the war he lives through. His adulthood is far from unsuccessful. To the contrary, he becomes a celebrated musician and forms a functional romantic relationship. Professionally and personally, his is a more traditionally successful life than Naomi’s. But despite this outward flourishing, Stephen is a troubled, unhappy man. As a college student, he is embarrassed by and impatient with Uncle and Obasan, fleeing from the house when he comes home for vacations, refusing Obasan’s food, and generally behaving badly. As a grown man, he renounces the Japanese side of his identity almost entirely, willfully expunging the language from his memory and exhibiting obvious discomfort whenever a food, gesture, or habit of speech strikes him as “too Japanese.” He hardly ever comes home, and years pass between his visits with Naomi, the one person in the world who best understands what his formative years were like. Like Naomi, he survives by suppressing memories of his childhood and by becoming, to some extent, unknowable. But his suppression and opacity are more dramatic. In addition to turning away from his past, he turns away from his ethnicity, his family, and his country.