Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Naomi Nakane

Naomi Nakane, the protagonist and the narrator of the prose sections. At the age of thirty-six, she is an unmarried elementary teacher in Cecil, Alberta, and is bored with her dead-end life. She is a quiet, subservient, and evasive adult whose victim-oriented personality has been shaped by childhood abuse of both a sexual and a political nature.

Ayako

Ayako, “Obasan” of the title, is a timid and victimized “everywoman” who endures abuse and believes that the best way to live is to hide unpleasantness and simply endure. The words “silence” and “stone” describe both her and her husband, in whose household Naomi and Stephen grow up.

Isamu

Isamu, the husband of Ayako and uncle of Naomi. Scion of a shipbuilding and shipowning family, he is exiled from Vancouver inland to the prairie during the relocation, which hits him particularly hard. The “stone bread” he bakes symbolizes the hardships that Japanese Canadians endure. His funeral is the narrative frame for the story.

Emily Kato

Emily Kato, Naomi’s unmarried aunt who lives in Toronto. She is an angry and vocal political activist who spends the novel trying to convince Naomi to become more aggressive in defending her heritage and in making her abuses public. She has saved a box of correspondence, newspaper clippings, and political documents that tell an important part of the...

(The entire section is 504 words.)

Obasan Characters

Obasan centers on the memories and experiences of Naomi Nakane, a schoolteacher living in the rural Canadian town of Cecil, Alberta....

(The entire section is 1676 words.)

Obasan Character Analysis

During World War II, thousands of Japanese Canadians were sent to internment camps far from their homes, where they were stripped of their rights as citizens and forced to work and live under harsh conditions. Published by Gale Cengage

Aya-obasan
See Ayako Nakane

Mr. Barker
When the family is allowed to leave the camp...

(The entire section is 2176 words.)