full title Obasan
author Joy Kogawa
type of work Novel
genre Historical fiction
time and place written Toronto, Canada, 1981
date of first publication 1981
narrator Naomi Nakane
point of view First person
tone Elegiac, lyrical, impassioned
setting (time) 1972 and World War II
setting (place) Canada
protagonist Naomi Nakane
major conflict Naomi struggles to come to grips with her painful past.
rising action Naomi’s Uncle dies, precipitating a series of recollections.
climax Naomi discovers what happened to her mother.
falling action Naomi returns to the coulee.
themes The benefits of silence; the dubious necessity of remembering; the difficulty of balancing cultures
motifs Red; military men; the sea
symbols Obasan’s house; spiders
foreshadowing The spiders that scuttle around in the attic foreshadow the onslaught of Naomi’s memories; Naomi’s throwaway phrase “slow can go” foreshadows Rough Lock’s tale; the death of the chicks foreshadows the sexual abuse Naomi suffers.