In Farewell to Manzanar, why did Woody take a trip to Ka-ke?

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Noelle Thompson | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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Even as an American soldier (albeit with Japanese heritage), Woody decides to visit Ka-ke, Japan in order to reconnect with his Japanese roots.  It is 1946, and Woody's pull to his ancestry is strong.  Ironically, Ka-ke, the home of his ancestry is right near Hiroshima. 

Woody is brave at heart as he imagines the other Japanese citizens resenting him for being of Japanese heritage and, yet, being a part of the American army "against" Japan.  Originally feeling like a traitor, himself, Woody is a bit hesitant to visit his dad's house, but feels it is required.  It is a great relief when Toyo, Woody's great aunt, greets him with joy and friendship. 

Further, Toyo, and Woody's entire extended family show the Japanese as honorable, welcoming, reserved, and gracious.  They treat Woody as though he were royalty even though they have almost nothing to give him.  Nothing shows this more than when Toyo brings out her best porcelain dishes to serve Woody.  Also, Woody gives them the best possible news: Ko is still alive and living in California!  Instead of treating Ko and Woody as traitors, the only emotion is happiness in family. 

There are so many relatives to meet. Everyone will want to see Ko's son.

I love the use of the word "everyone" here.  It shows that it is not only Woody's extended family who will approve of Woody's decision, but also the entire Japanese community.  As such, Woody gains a new respect for the Japanese and connects contentedly with his heritage once again. This is again shown when Woody asks Toyo graciously to share all past memories of Ko, his father.  In fact, he asks her to tell him "everything she can remember."

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