How did Jeanne react when they moved to Terminal Island?

Expert Answers
liesljohnson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Near the beginning of the novel, when Jeanne and her mother and siblings have to move to Terminal Island, where the extended family can stay together and feel safer, Jeanne doesn't feel safer at all; she actually reacts with terror and discomfort:

But for me, at age seven, the island was a country as foreign as India or Arabia would have been. It was the first time I had lived among other Japanese, or gone to school with them, and I was terrified all the time.

Ever since Jeanne was in kindergarten a few years prior, she'd lived with a strange, deep-seated fear of other people of Oriental descent. As an adult narrating her own story, Jeanne explains that this fear is probably rooted in a threat that her father often made to her and her siblings in order to keep them behaving properly: "I'm going to sell you to the Chinaman." For this reason, Jeanne figures, she's profoundly fearful of strangers with Asian facial features.

Also, Jeanne had only spoken English as a child, but her new peers and neighbors on Terminal Island spoke Japanese exclusively, in a dialect she didn't comprehend at all. These others were not just incomprehensible but also rude, boisterous, and generally menacing to Jeanne. Even with her older brother to walk her home from school, and even though she was never actually attacked by any of her neighbors, Jeanne describes her time living on Terminal Island as living under a "reign of fear," a time when a period of just a few months actually felt like years.