What was Jeanne's observation of how Mama coped with using the latrines?

1 Answer

teachsuccess's profile pic

teachsuccess | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

In Farewell To Manzanar, Jeanne tells us that her mother never did get used to using the latrines.

The smell of it spoiled what little appetite we had...the floor was covered with excrement, and all twelve bowls were erupting like a row of tiny volcanoes.

Yet, she recalls admirably that her mother was never one to complain: she simply subordinated her private desires to the larger good of her family and community. Jeanne tells us that while her mother resigned herself to the situation (shikata ga nai -- it cannot be helped), she also embodied the Japanese spirit of resourcefulness and tenacity. Along with it, her respect for the privacy of others retained a measure of dignity in her. Jeanne relates how an older Japanese woman puts up a makeshift cardboard privacy screen at the latrines. Jeanne's mother displays the characteristic Japanese friendliness and good manners towards the older lady. In return, the old lady lets Jeanne's mother use the cardboard screen. The resourcefulness and cheerful conformity of the Japanese people steels them against the humiliation and degradation of the conditions at the latrines.

Thanks for the question.