At the anniversary party in Farewell to Manzanar, what was the main course?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The main course at the anniversary party described by the narrator is

"a great gleaming roast pig with a bright red apple in its mouth."

The party in question is the silver wedding anniversary celebrated for the narrator's parents in 1940. The narrator says the event was the climax of the family's life during the prewar years in America. She says,

"Papa was elegant that day, in a brand-new double-breasted worsted suit...he was still the dude...spending more money on his clothes than on anything else. Mama wore a long, crocheted, rose-colored dress,"

and as they stand by tables overburdened with gifts of silver and food "in glistening abundance," they present a picture of comfortable prosperity, family, and home. The roast pig, in particular, is symbolic of plenty, and illustrates the success the Wakatsukis have achieved in America; in their adopted country, they have found the American dream. The pig is also significant because of the way Papa carves it in front of the family. The pig is ostentatious, and so is the way that Papa divides it up. As the undisputed patriarch and leader of the family, he stands by the pig as his family surrounds him, and when he has everyone's attention, he ceremonially cuts off the pig's head with a large butcher's cleaver, then deftly halves and quarters it with sure, single strokes. Papa's action is a declaration of his supremacy and potency, the patriarch providing food for his brood. He is the head of his family, and the confidence and power exhibited by his symbolic act at this moment stands in sharp contrast to the defeated man who struggles his way angrily and impotently through his family's incarceration.

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Farewell To Manzanar

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