Throughout most of the novel, Otsuka's collective "we" refers to the Japanese picture brides who travel to the United States. As Otsuka stated in an interview, the collective voice allows her to weave together many stories into one narrative. It also allows the reader to think about the women as a group and to recognize the individual stories that comprise the whole.
Towards the end of the novel, the "we" switches to represent the Americans who are left behind once the Japanese are interned at camp. Otsuka wanted to interrogate the voices of the white Americans who witnessed the disappearance of the Japanese following the bombing of Pear Harbor. Their collective voice follows their response to the Japanese internment and their eventual acceptance that the event.