In Farewell to Manzanar, what three moves did the family make in the months following Papa's arrest? What were the living conditions like in each case?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The three moves the family made in the months following Papa's arrest are:

1)Terminal Island.

This is the family's first move almost immediately after Papa's arrest. Jeanne Wakatsuki's older brother and sister already live on the island. Most people on the island either fish or work in the canneries. The family lives in a crudely made shack in what appears to be a fishing ghetto community.

Jeanne and her siblings experience a difficult time adjusting to life in the rough community. Being an American, Jeanne has always spoken English; ironically, her lack of fluency in Japanese exposes her to bullying and contempt in a community where she should have felt welcome. The family lives here for two months before the American Navy clears out Terminal Island.

2)Boyle Heights, downtown Los Angeles.

From Terminal Island, the family moves to a small house in Boyle Heights, another minority ghetto. In the city, Mama and Woody go to work at a factory packing celery for a Japanese produce dealer. Kiyo, May, and Jeanne (the author) enroll in the local school. It is here that Jeanne first encounters direct hostility from a Caucasian. Her teacher is both dismissive of and overtly antagonistic towards Jeanne.

Jeanne notes that sentiments against the Japanese are slowly changing in America.

Tolerance had turned to distrust and irrational fear. The hundred year tradition of anti-Orientalism on the west coast soon resurfaced, more vicious than ever.

3)Manzanar, an internment camp for Japanese-Americans.

This is the family's third move. Manzanar is made up of blocks of barracks where Japanese families are supposed to be housed for the duration of the war. Jeanne's family is first ordered to go to Block 16, which includes fifteen barracks. The barracks here are shoddily constructed and fashioned with 'one thickness of pine planking covered with tarpaper.' Each barracks is divided into six units; each unit the size of a living room (16 by 20 feet). Most of Jeanne's family are shoved into two of those units, housing twelve family members. Each unit is lighted with one solitary bulb.

Jeanne's oldest sister and her husband are forced to share one small unit with six people they have never met before. The families have to make do with only a few Army blankets and some steel Army cots for sleeping.

Keeping warm becomes a matter of survival. The War Department dispenses old military winter gear from the first World War. A barracks is transformed into a clothing factory, complete with sewing machines which have been shipped in. Here, seamstresses turn the old Army winter wear into 'capes, slacks, and stylish coats' for the Japanese-American prisoners.

The Manzanar latrines are often badly maintained and overflowing with excrement. Due to mandatory typhoid shots and occasional spoiled food from the mess halls, many find themselves constantly sick and in need of the latrines.

It is not uncommon for riots to break out at Manzanar. The riots often stem from arguments about questionable loyalties and misplaced honor. One such riot is headed by Joe Kurihara, who served in the US Army in France and Germany during the first World War. Depressed and frustrated by his treatment at Manzanar, Joe is ready to renounce his American citizenship and sail back to Japan.

Life does not improve for Jeanne and her family until their eventual move to Block 28, which is right up next to an old pear orchard. There, Papa tends to the apple and pear trees; the family is able to pick the fruits green in late summer and to store them in the simple cellar below their barracks.

At Block 28, the family finds their living spaces doubled, more freedom to explore areas outside the fencing area, and permission to have gardens. With a profusion of cactus, flower, vegetable, and rock gardens, Block 28 comes to resemble some sort of normalcy for the inhabitants of Manzanar. The vegetable gardens also provide a great variety of food for the mess halls; churches, schools, beauty parlors, tennis courts, police departments, and fire departments contribute to the small town atmosphere at Block 28.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial