Discuss how marginalization either empowers or hurts a community in Obassan by Joy Kogawa and Funny Boy by Shyam Selvadurai.

To discuss how marginalization empowers or hurts a community, consider Aunt Emily in Obasan and Arjie in Funny Boy. Arjie’s marginalization empowers him to explore his sexuality. Aunt Emily’s marginalization empowers her to keep people from forgetting Canada’s racist past.

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In Joy Kogawa’s novel Obasan, one can discuss how marginalization hurts Canada’s Japanese community by identifying the ways in which Canada’s internment of Japanese Canadians adversely impacted them.

According to Aunt Emily, Japanese Canadians faced greater discrimination than Japanese Americans. During World War II, the United States government also interned their Japanese citizens. However, the American government did not, as Aunt Emily points out, take away their property.

Losing all that they owned is one central way that marginalization hurt the Japanese Canadian community. Aunt Emily supplies a specific example of how Canada deprived their Japanese community of assets. She tells Naomi/Nomi the story of Grandpa Keto’s Cadillac. The government sold it for $33 and charged Grandpa Keto a $30 handling fee, which meant that he only received around $3 for his expropriated car.

However, it’s possible to argue that marginalization has empowered some members of the community, like Aunt Emily herself. In a sense, the marginalization motivates her to forcefully draw attention to these injustices and to not let Canada move on, or forget, it’s racist past.

As for Shyam Selvadurai’s novel Funny Boy, try discussing how marginalization empowers Arjie. Arjie is marginalized because he doesn’t act like the other boys in his community. While they’re playing sports, Arjie is dressing up as a bride. Yet Arjie’s peripheral position puts him in a situation where he can embrace his “more brilliant, more beautiful self.”

Later on in his life, Arjie is still, arguably, finding his identity via marginalization. His father sends him to a school that is supposed to make him act like a normative man; yet this banishment helps bring about his powerful relationship with Shehan.

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