Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Opening passages

" It is sobering to recall that though the Japenese relocation program, carried through at such incalculable coast in misery and tragedy, was justified on the ground that the Japenese were potentially disloyal, the record does not disclose a single case of Japenese disloyalty or sabotage during the whole war...
- Henry Steele Commager

Life has left her footprints on my forehead
But I have become a child again this morning
The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,
is back, to smooth
Away the wrinkles
As the rains wipe away footprints
on the beach. Again a
Cycle of borth and death begins.
- Thich Nhat Hanh

React to the following two passages that open the novel. Why did Houston choose these two? Why print them together?

50 Comments:

Blogger BenH said...

Both of these quotes are very pertinent to the plot of the book because they give context to the feelings of the internees.

I think the two quotes have an intersting contrast. The first one is very official sounding, and points out a fact. However, the second one is much more sentimental in nature, and explains a feeling and an emotion.

Wed May 02, 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger kimmy c. said...

I agree with benh. The two different passages are both relating to the topic in different ways. The first one related on a factual basis while the second took on an emotional approcoach. I think that the author chose the two different quotes because they reach the heart, and make both intellectuals, and those who are more concentrated on emotions, understand the pain and sadness that was invovled.

Wed May 02, 03:18:00 PM  
Blogger Madisonm said...

I agree with both Ben and Kimmy: these two passages give two very different feelings. The first one, sounding more matter-of-fact shows how unjust everything was for the Japanese in the camps. It shows the opinion of someone who was probably not in one of the camps. It is a reflection upon the act of cruelty towards the Japanese; an act that has already happened and one that has become a darker side of US history.

On the other hand, I think the second passage could be the opinions or feelings of someone who was actually in one of the camps. Despite the fact that the Japanese were treated so poorly, this passage seems strangely optimistic. At the end when it talks about birth and death, it may be referencing the 'birth' of the Japanese's new way of life in the camps, and the 'death' may be referencing their 'death' of their old way of their lives; the time when they were respected and welcomed in society. I feel that this passage is showing how most Japanese in the camps were trying to look on the better side of things; trying to see their way through it. This passage represents more of what a Japanese person would have felt in this time than a Caucasian bystander.

Wed May 02, 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger SarahEChurchill said...

I think that the two passages were chosen because they give two accounts of Japanese internment camps. The first is, as madisonm put, more matter of fact. It shows that Americans basically put innocent, LOYAL, Japanese people in camps. It put them through misery they could have lived without. The second passages was very confusing for me. However, I still got a more deep, sad feeling after reading it. It is more poetry than fact.

Can somebody please explain what the second passage means?

Wed May 02, 04:23:00 PM  
Blogger zachf said...

I agree with Ben and Madison that these two passages give off very different vibes.

The first passage states bitterness. It says that even though it may have sounded justified at the time to detain the Japenese in the U.S. it shows that the fact of the matter is that there was no real threat from those relocated.

The second passage seems more optimistic. "The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,
is back..." That line shows that even though things may have been bad for the Japenese then, ever since they were released they have a renewed sense of hope.

Wed May 02, 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger KathrynT said...

As everyone else has already said, the first one is much more statistical and factual. It directly explains what happened and is slightly accusatory. The second one, i found a little confusing too, but I think it is more of a symbolic stance of what happened. The "Cycle of birth and death" may be reffering to how they had to learn to live in a completly new way and style. The country began to reject them and they hurt them. Talking about becoming a child again, it may be referring to how the Japenese had to do things they did not want to, and began to act just like a child following orders from a mom.

Wed May 02, 05:25:00 PM  
Blogger erinl said...

The first thing that I noticed was how ironic that these passages are opposites. I think that these two were chosen maybe to show that there was a reason that Japanese were in the relocation camps but the people didn't know why they were there. Maybe these two passages show the awfulness of the whole situation.

Wed May 02, 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger briang said...

To me the first passage is much more straightforward. That is, it is hard to understand why loyal Japanese were unjustly sent through the relocation program despite that fact that not one single case of Japanese disloyalty was recorded throughout the war. The passage is more informing yet still amplifies a sad, frustrated voice. Henry Steele Commager sounds confused and shocked at what America is doing to the Japanese unjustly.

The second passage to me sounds like she has just been released from the camp, saying "life has left her footprints on my forehead" meaning life has put a hardship on me. But she is describing how she feels reborn, almost like she is starting a new life away from the internment camps, "As the rains wipe away footprints".

I think Houston chose these two because they both reflect on the Japanese internment camps in a different way. One is confused and gives factual information while the other describes hope and starting a new life away from the camps. They are together because they both emphasize the injustice of the relocation program.

Wed May 02, 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger christas said...

Referencing something that Madison said, the first passage seems like it is in the words of a Caucasian bystander that now feels guilty for letting their country deny the Japanese-Americans their basic rights, while the second seems to be more from the point of view of a Japanese-American that recognizes that their experiences were difficult, but that some good can come of it.

I think that the author chose these two passages because of they show the different points of view from Japanese-Americans and Caucasians. The first one reveals the shame and regret that the Caucasians now have because of their mistake in mistreating the Japanese because of their fears of disloyalty. The second quote shows the view of the Japanese—that they regret having those negative experiences, but from those ordeals there will be rebirth and the realization of what true liberty is. I also think that Houston chose these passages because she herself had contrasting views. She had grown up like a normal American girl and only spoke English, so she felt very much a part of America. At the same time, she had to hold on to her Japanese heritage. She was not fully accepted in either Japan or the U.S. because she was not completely tied to one or the other, but connected to both places with traces of both cultures in her lifestyle.

Wed May 02, 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger maria k said...

Madison, what you said about the two different views is exactly what I thought. The first one seems like it was said by someone who wasn't personally affected by the concentration law. It would be like you or me saying, "Wow, that must have been horrible for them!"

The second one is in the form of a poem. Poetry is used to draw on emotions and feelings. Although there are less words, there is so much more feeling and emotion poured into this poem. The person who wrote it must have personally experienced the horrible camps, and then could relate to them much better than someone else who hadn't had that experience.

Wed May 02, 08:28:00 PM  
Blogger hannahs said...

I think the first quote is meant to prove how wrong it was for Japanese Americans to be interned. Also, this quote is based on factual information, because the interned Japanese Americans were never given a fair trial, they were all just assumed guilty and put in camps. Clearly, the nation wide belief that citizens are, "innocent until proven guilty," was "overlooked" in the case of interned Japanese Americans. I think that the second passage is about forgiveness. It is meant to communicate that America was unfair to the Japanese, but the Japanese are still willing to forgive America for its mistakes. I think they were printed together to provide information about the Japanese Americans' innocence; while at the same time convey a feeling of forgiveness.

Wed May 02, 08:38:00 PM  
Blogger EmilyL said...

I think the key words in the first quote are "potentially disloyal." The US governements had no idea if they were going to rebel, but they did not want to take that chance. I think that is central to Farwell to Manazar, that the people were interned because of their potential.

I think the author chose these two passages to open the novel because they show the cause of the internment camps, "potential disloyalty"" and the effect “footprints on a child's head."

Wed May 02, 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger adrianag said...

I don't think that the second quote was from someone who was interned. It says the source is Viet Nam Poems, and the author of the poem definitely appears to be Vietnamese, or at least not Japanese. However, it is very relevant, and I think that is why it was chosen. It's interesting how things like poetry and other literature can describe situations far beyond the one they were written about. I pretty much agree with what everyone has said.
I really liked the first line of the poem. ("Life has left her footprints on my forehead") Other writing might say, "footprints in my heart," or something else like that, but I think that the way it is written makes it sound like the events were more disruptive. It was harsh and hurtful, but it was just the way life happened(shikata ga nai). The poem continues to say, "But I have become a child again this morning." It seems very optimistic, indicating a sort of new start with a blank slate. The symbolism of the rain wiping away footprints on the beach was very interesting. Water generally represents cleansing and purifying after something bad has been done. Maybe in this use, the speaker is forgiving. It gives a sense of impermanence; footprints don't stay on a beach for long, and a beach doesn't stay free of footprints very long. The reference to a cycle suggests that similar things have happened before and will happen again, but maybe people will learn from their mistakes. It all reminded me of the Japanese internment. Parts of it made me think of everyone going home after the camps closed.

Wed May 02, 08:55:00 PM  
Blogger elyseh said...

I think the passages were printed together because they are both talking about the past and present at the same time, one is recalling about the camps, and the other is happy that things are different now. The first one seems to be more negative rememberance and recalling how unfair things were. The second one talks more about the future with the past being a footprint that was wiped away on the beach. I think he chose them as two different reflections of the terrible time one more optimistic and one showing the true side of things.

Wed May 02, 09:00:00 PM  
Blogger DeclanH said...

I think the passages were chosen because they seem to go hand in hand. They both set the mood for the entire book (or at least what i've read of it), in that the first one gives a more formal and straight forward recollection of the Japanese internment camps, and the second one is more of a poetic view. The second one is also laced with pretty wordings, making it more appealing to read. The first one bores me.

Wed May 02, 09:18:00 PM  
Blogger sarahc said...

I agree with everyone else said. I'd like to address why he put these two together.

As I read them, the two quotes seemed to be portraying a different perspective. The first one seemed to me to be from an American looking in on the internment camps. The second seemed to be from an internee. They portray opposite veiws of the same event. The outsider seemed to have the feeling that it was unnessecary to do the internment camps, while the internee seemed to say, "this is part of life, and now is the time to move on." I Think that Houston put these two quotes together to give the reader opposite veiws in the same place for easier comparison. I think he chose these quotes because it gives the reader a chance to look at two other opinions, then read the book and see where some of the opinions of internees really were.

Wed May 02, 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger karib said...

To me, the first passage is hinting at the fact that the Japanese relocation program accomplished nothing. Some would argue that any potential acts of sabotage or disloyalty were prevented or thwarted by the internment, but I think Commager believes that the entire process of internment caused a lot of suffering over nothing.

The second passage sounds like forgiveness to me. She talks about the footprints on her forehead being washed away by the rain, and I think the footprints represent anger. The Japanese were initially angry about the internment but the poem suggests that they eventually forgave people.

I think the purpose of having both comments together was to cast a positive light on the Japanese people. It says "We suffered a lot during the internment but that was in the past and we accept it". Maybe that reflects Houston's personal belief about the subject. She has forgiven the U.S. government for what they did to her family and the families of others. This makes me think of the phrase "What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger".

Wed May 02, 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger karib said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Wed May 02, 09:28:00 PM  
Blogger tanal said...

I think these passages showed two different emotions but both dealt with the same situations. The first one is more serious and real, where as the second one is a lot more sentimental and sincere. I think that both of these let the reader know the reasons that the Japanese were sent away and the impact it had on others. In a way it proved to the reader that there was a reason behind the government and pwople sending the Japanese to the relocation camps. Also I think that the first one was more straight forward and the second one was more poetic and interesting, so the reader was distracted and didn't realize how bad of an experience this was for the Japanese.

Wed May 02, 09:43:00 PM  
Blogger kenna_d said...

For the first quote--
That to me is how life works, people's fear cause them to react irrationally, such as putting a potentially dangerous race into concentration camps. Also, its shows how incredibly unfair it is to stereotype, just because someone was Japanese during the war didn't make them disloyal, just like the fact that just because your emo doesn't make you a depressed person. Stereotyping is dangerous to it victims because they can be accused of something based on little else but their appearance.

For the second--
What I first thought when I read this was that it is a symbol of something being forgotten. Something that was such a painful and large part of some of these people's lives left a large print, but somehow those around them have managed to wipe it away. So the first part of their lives has been washed away and forgotten. That is the only way to make a completely fresh start. A fresh start such as; birth after death.

I think by printing these together, Houston has offered a warning and a lesson. A warning to be careful how you group people and what you do to act on that categorized thought. It is a lesson in life about not forgetting the past so easily because there is so much to learn from it. It is not something that can merely be washed off the records.

Wed May 02, 09:55:00 PM  
Blogger shaunam said...

I think that both of the passages are getting the same point across, but in very different ways. I think that the first one is very straight forward, like they are stating facts. I also thought that the first one portrayed frustration. For the second passage, I thought that it had the same topic as the first, but was talking about starting over after such a horrible time. I think that they went about this with more feelings and emotions involved that were set up poetically.

Wed May 02, 09:59:00 PM  
Blogger TomR said...

The first reminds me of the letter we read in class today; they're both very sarcastic and point out obvious flaws in the internment camp plan. The second, in a way, could refer to one's ancestry--it's still with you, but cycles of birth and death are the only things that occur; footprints of your predecessors do not define who you are. I'd surmise that these are together because they point out two of the major problems with internment of the Japanese--the first, overt, the second, flowery and poetic and not so much.

Wed May 02, 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Mphair said...

Henry Steele Commager's passage was originally published in Harper's Magazine in 1947 and gives the sense of being part of a documentary written somewhat shortly after World War II ended. It merely, as Madisonm said, states the facts, probably written by someone not affected by the camps.

However, the second one, written by Thich Nhat Hanh and published in Viet Nam Poems, is written in the format of a poem. This one indirectly refers to the Japanese internment. For one thing, It mentions the toll of life and time on someone. It can be related to the Japanese internment; however, when considering where it was originally published, it mostlikely refers to either the "Vietnam War" or Vietnam during WWII where MAYBE some of the inlisted Japanese fought.

Thu May 03, 07:13:00 AM  
Blogger rsinn_butnotfire said...

i think that the two passages almost create a story in themselves.


The first paragraph is the early life of innocence, japanese people being led to re-location areas yet still being extremely loyal to their native country.

While the second paragraph is the innocence being re-born, it almost portreys the innocence forgiving those that took advantage of the japanese people.

Thu May 03, 07:40:00 AM  
Blogger adrianag said...

rsinn, good point, I think it could also refer to loyalty to the US

Thu May 03, 08:35:00 AM  
Blogger paigen said...

The two passages are saying essentially the same thing, kind of like what Shauna said, but the first one is more straightforward and stating the facts. Whereas the second one is more poetic and metaphoric and what not.

I think he printed them together because the first one, you can not really argue with it because it is the facts. Then he added the second one to kind of "wake America up" to show how the Japanese Americans reacted to what happened. They are kind of like different views on the same topic I guess.

Thu May 03, 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger adamb said...

The first passage is more direct, just saying that it was wrong to intern the japanese and the second is just a sad poem that can apply to many situations such as this one.

Thu May 03, 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger jessb said...

These two passages are really interesting. To me, they relate the age that overwhelms even little kids in the camps. Being put in depression and sadness and harsh conditions puts old age and makes kids grow up alot faster than they ever wanted too.

Thu May 03, 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger alexd said...

He chose these two because they resemble the breaking down of the japanise and turning them into slaves.

Thu May 03, 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger joshb said...

I think that the opening passages refer to the troubles that the main characters go through while still keeping their sense of fun and childhood.

Thu May 03, 08:38:00 AM  
Blogger chelseah said...

Just like everyone else noticed, I found that the two passages are very contradicting. They are opposites, yet they both display the feelings that the people at the internment have.

I think the first one is ironic because it is talking about how innocent the Japanese are even though they were still sent to internment camps.

I think the second one is talking about a person that just got released from a camp, and they are "re-born" again. They are re-living everything, and rediscovering what they missed while they were locked up.

Thu May 03, 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger *AlexxM_* said...

These two quotes were chosen for their obvious link to the novel's story.

I also noticed that the quote from Henry Commager was a lot more official sounding, as if said during a speech or presentation. The other seemes more like a poem, with more compassion.

Thu May 03, 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger Phillips said...

They seem very opposite of each other. The first one is a serious quote, using big words to get the point. However, the second part is a poem and uses metaphors to get the point across.

Thich Nhat Hanh is very hard to say.

Thu May 03, 08:39:00 AM  
Blogger saram said...

I think the two passages are setting down what the story is really about. The first paragraph is about how even though the Japanese Americans were treated horribly, they still stayed loyal to the US. The second paragraph tells how even though footprints are left, you need to forgive and forget. Don't hold grudges and forgive what people have done in the past. I think he chose these two because one paragraph explains what happened and the other says that you need to forget what happened. They go hand in hand.

Thu May 03, 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Kjerstinl said...

To me the first piece sounds more dark to me than the second. To me it seems black and white. The second seems more colorful for some reason because it seems to have "brighter words." The first one seems to dwell more than the second who seems to be happy to be out.

Thu May 03, 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger EmilyH said...

I really like what chealseah said about the poem being about the people who just got released from camp, they had to rediscover and re-remeber everything so in a way they were re-born. The first quote is subtly sarcastic and critizising, and i think that they were put together because it gives the shocking statesment that there was no reason to do this and because of it people got hurt and they had to relearn everything.

Thu May 03, 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger endsleye said...

I agree with Shauna about how both are saying how bad internement is. The first one is straight forward and the other one is more about how they had to start over. I think they were pieced together because it is describing what has happening during intermenet.

Thu May 03, 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger connord said...

The second one seems a lot more hopeful then the first one.

Thu May 03, 08:45:00 AM  
Blogger HarryPotterFreak(danh) said...

I think that both passages are saying that the internment camps were pointless because none of the Japanese were actually disloyal. In the first one the guy says it directly. In the second one, the (girl?) hints at it by saying that it was "footprints on a beach" which are easily washed away, just like how the pointless internment camps were wiped out.

Thu May 03, 12:34:00 PM  
Blogger Lane C. said...

The first one, the quote, is the most interesting to me because it shows how we can and do learn from our mistakes. "It is sobering to recall..." seems to me like a hopeful statement that because we have that to look back on we won't use race as an accusation again. It also seems that now we are more willing to trust the Japanese people in our country because of what they've been through and yet how they never outwardly complained about the injustice they had to undergo.

Thu May 03, 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger AnnaD said...

I agree with what a lot of you have already said. The first passage demonstrates the overreaction and the irony of the Japanese imprisonment, but the second one seems more forgiving. It also emphasizes the fact that the Japanese internment will always have an impact on its victims and those who witnessed it.

Thu May 03, 12:35:00 PM  
Blogger maddyg said...

The second passage was interesting to me because the first line gives me the impression that not only has he had a hard life, and it was almost like someone was trying to stomp his ideas into someone's head. Also, it is like an impression left on the person's memory, but then it says that the rain wipes away the footprints. What exactly does that mean? It sounds like forgiveness in one way, but it also seems like forgetting.

Thu May 03, 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger lindsey c said...

The first passage gave me the impression of bitterness. The man seems to be the government for imprisoning these people. Then, for me, the secind passage was a delightful contrast. IT was showing how you shouldnt just hold a grudge but forgive. Sometimes forgivness is harder to swallow than a grudge because then you have to face what you have done.

Thu May 03, 12:36:00 PM  
Blogger emilya said...

Both passages show how horrible these camps were. Yet, I believe the second one is a bit on the happier side and more hopeful. It may be because it is written in poem form, but I do not know. The first just shows how it is believed Japanese were disloyal. Yet it shows that this may not be a true statement.

Thu May 03, 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Aylar said...

I think that these qoutes are showing that the way that the Japonnesse were treatred can never be erased, It goes back to liberty vs. security. the U.S. gov. showed a non caring attuitude to these "enemies"

Thu May 03, 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Lane C. said...

The poem to me reflects hope and forgiveness. The author is saying that her people have been victims of racism and other injustices but they are willing to forgive.

Thu May 03, 12:39:00 PM  
Blogger TyC said...

It seems like both of them are talking about how the internment of Japanese Americans has been overlooked in American history. Although the internment camps were not as bad as the Nazi death camps, they were still horrible. The Japanese Americans did not do anything, but they were still stuck in there. This relates to the second passage because they will never forget what happened to them.

Thu May 03, 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger AnnaD said...

Also, both of the quotes are ironic. This could relate to the fact that the idea of jailing American citizens in their own country was extremely ironic in itself.

Thu May 03, 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Shelby B. said...

I agree with Kenna that this was a warning for us and we need to be careful, because we can start to forget. Many times we forget our history, even when many have given their lives to fight for us. It is important to remember because such terrible things can happen to those that are really not doing anything to harm us. We need to remember these types of things and to learn from them and not to blow them off.

Thu May 03, 01:04:00 PM  
Blogger _annaw_ said...

I also (agreeing wih the crowd here) believe that the author is showing the similarity of the two texts, is giving a preview of the moral, and warning the rest of the people.

Thu May 03, 04:06:00 PM  

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