Papa was a "dark, bitter, brooding presence" in the cubicle that was home to the Wakatsukis in Manzanar. Upon his return from North Dakota, where he had been forced to work as an interpreter helping the Justice Department interview other Isseis, Papa settled into the small space allotted the family and "didn't go outside for months". He refused even to join the others at the mess hall for meals, having his wife bring his food to him. He also made her bring him "extra protions of rice, or cans of the syrupy fruit they served" so that he could manufacture alcohol in the homemade still he kept behind the door. The still gave off a horrible smell, and for this reason Mama was ashamed to allow any visitors to come in. Papa spent his days sipping his homemade brew until "he was blind drunk and passed out". In the mornings he would awaken with a terrific hangover, and would routinely vomit, after which he would start drinking all over again.
Papa often became violent in the small confines of the cubicle. He terrified the entire family, "lurching around...cursing in Japanese and swinging his bottles wildly". Mama took the brunt of his frustrated, impotent wrath, and one time at least he was on the brink of literally beating her to death, except for the intervention of his young son. Papa's downfall was irreversible, and he continued to isolate himself in the cubicle, "pursuing oblivion through drink...(and) abusing Mama" (Chapter 8).