No-No Boy depicts a second generation Japanese American’s struggle to balance his loyalty to the Japanese culture, to his parents, and to his country, the United States. Ichiro Yamada is interned during World War II. He is put in jail for answering no to the two critical questions on the allegiance questionnaire. His two negative answers are his refusal to serve in the American armed forces and his refusal to forswear allegiance to Japan and pledge loyalty to the United States. After he is released from prison, Ichiro moves back to Seattle and is caught between two seemingly irreconcilable worlds. On one side, there are his parents, who are very proud of being Japanese. On the other side, there is the United States, a country to which he still feels he belongs.
During his search for his identity, Ichiro meets several people who help shape his perspective on himself and on his relationship with America. One of his close friends, Kenji, joins the military during the war. He loses a leg and has only two years to live. What Kenji physically goes through, Ichiro experiences emotionally. Being a no-no boy, Ichiro is looked down upon by his brother and other Japanese Americans who believe he has betrayed the country. During one of their conversations, Kenji and Ichiro jokingly discuss whether they want to trade places. The fact that both of them are willing to do it comments on the kind of social environment they have to deal with and on the choices...
(The entire section is 415 words.)