Naomi Nakane, the protagonist of the book, lives quietly in Canada while her Japanese-Canadian family members try not to speak about what happened during the war. In the excerpt that begins the book before chapter 1, the author writes, "There is a silence that cannot speak. There is a silence that will not speak." This passage is about the way in which the family cloaks their lives in silence.
Naomi says, as an adult, "From Obasan and Uncle I have learned that speech often hides like an animal in a storm" (page 4). She has been raised to repress her emotions and keep quiet about what is going on around her, just as her family tried to keep quiet about their suffering during the war. In this simile, their silence is compared to an animal hiding in fear.
Naomi also says of her aunt, "The language of her grief is silence" (17). When Naomi's uncle dies, her aunt expresses no outwards signs of grief, similarly to the way she has...
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