In Farewell to Manzanar, how had Papa become assimilated into American life?  How was Mama's experience different?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Papa assimilated into American life through his zealous embrace of its promise of happiness, while Mama's experience was more steady and willing to accept the hardships and suffering that comes with being in America.

One way Papa assimilated into American life was through a full embrace of its possibilities.  Papa turned his back on Japan and embraced everything there was to America.  He assimilated into American life by being hopeful of finding happiness in America.  While he was not a citizen of America and of Japanese descent at a very bad time, his assimilation was rooted in the true belief of American promises.  As a result of his experience with internment and suspicion, Papa's assimilation into American life consists of intense highs and painful lows. 

Mama's assimilation takes a different path.  Mama cannot afford to experience such peaks and valleys.  Rather, the love of her family is her path towards American assimilation.  America's promise and possibilities are in the form of her family's happiness and success.  Where Papa's assimilation is tied to American ideals,  Mama's is linked to the daily reality of protecting and tending to her family.  Evidence of this is when Mama takes on jobs that might be beneath her because she knows that her family must survive. She is the steadying force in the internment camps, more than Papa could ever hope to be.  Even when her husband abuses her, she reconciles because of family's importance.  Mama assimilates into American life because a maternal protection of family.

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Farewell To Manzanar

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