How do the characters in Traci Chee's We are Not Free demonstrate Gaman?  

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In We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, many of the characters exhibit Gaman in their attitudes, words, and actions. Let’s define Gaman, then look at some examples.

According to Chee, Gaman is “The ability to hold your pain and bitterness inside you and not let them destroy you. To...

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In We Are Not Free by Traci Chee, many of the characters exhibit Gaman in their attitudes, words, and actions. Let’s define Gaman, then look at some examples.

According to Chee, Gaman is “The ability to hold your pain and bitterness inside you and not let them destroy you. To make something beautiful through your anger, or with your anger, and neither erase it nor let it define you. To suffer. And to rage. And to persevere.” This is a critical trait for the characters in this story, for they are taken to internment camps for Japanese Americans during World War II.

The book focuses on fourteen teenagers, and they all exhibit Gaman in their own way. Look at Minnow, for instance. He continues to pursue his art. Frankie and Mas decide that they will volunteer for the army, as does Twitchy. Kiyoshi and Stan are arrested for no reason, and they firmly maintain their innocence, even going on a hunger strike to protest the brutal treatment of the prisoners.

We can look at other characters besides the teens as well. When Minnow and his mother return to San Francisco, they discover that their neighborhood no longer exists, at least not for them. Yet Minnow’s mother is still determined to make a life for herself and her son. At the camps, too, people work hard to achieve at least some sense of normalcy, starting schools, playing softball, and holding dances. This, indeed, is Gaman.

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