Farewell To Manzanar

by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

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How does Jeanne describe the public attitudes toward the Japanese in California in Farewell To Manzanar?  

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Jeanne learns a lot about the attitudes of her white neighbors when she and her family move to Boyle Heights. It is here that Jeanne experiences overt racism for the first time. She recalls how her new teacher is distant and cold to her. This is in contrast to her former teacher in Ocean Park, who obviously cared for her very much.

We can see how some people had no sympathy for the plight of Japanese Americans. For instance, a china dealer offers Mama 15 dollars for her dishes and plates. Mama takes this as an insult, as they are worth at least 200 dollars. In a fit, she breaks the dishes rather than sell them for such an insulting amount. This dealer clearly saw the Japanese's situation as one he could take advantage of.

Jeanne and her family grow increasingly worried as their white neighbors appear very suspicious and fearful of the new Japanese arrivals. They begin to worry that the public will grow increasingly aggressive towards them. This is why many Japanese Americans initially welcome the relocation by the government. At first, they feel safer under government protection than they did out among an increasingly hostile public.

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The answer to this question can be found in Chapter 2.

I guess you could start with the people who felt like they could make money of the Japanese who were having to move.  An example of this is the guy who wanted to buy the china for only $15.  So some of the public's attitude was just to get what they could from the Japanese.

But mostly what Jeanne says is that white Californians started to become suspicious.  You can see this where she is talking about her teacher.  She says that the tolerance that Americans used to fear changed to "distrust and irrational fear."

So I suppose the best answer is to say that she says that the public felt "distrust and irrational fear" towards the Japanese Americans.

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