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The challenges that Hana faces in the first year of living in California represent the fundamental difficulties in being a "picture bride." Her response to it displays the ends to which she will go in order to make her life as a bride work. The primary challenge she faces is tempering her subjective visions to the reality in which she lives. Hana is filled with so much hope and promise in leaving Japan, in which she would have been a villager's wife. For her, California represents so much in way of promise and possibility. Yet, when she arrives, so much is vastly different than so many of her dreams. Her husband is much older than he was in the pictures. The dream of being an opulent storeowner's wife is supplanted with the reality of the store being quite dingy. America, itself, is a world in which Hana must transform herself into being something that she is not. The changing of her clothes and her overall attitude is something that she must do in order to make things work in the new country.
Hana responds to these challenges in her first year of living in California by seeking to walk a fine line between continuing to have her dreams, but not letting their disappointment with reality crush her spirit. For example, the store is dingy and drab. Yet, she does not let this take away her ability to dream, as Hana becomes more involved in it. She gives it a "woman's touch" by cleaning it and making it more organized. Hana recognizes that her husband is older than she envisioned him to be. Yet, Hana does not waver in the fact that she seeks to be a loyal wife. Hana's dream of finding passion in love of another might be present with Kiyoshi. Her response to this challenging situation is to walk the fine line between being with him and not enabling it to turn into something sexual or something that would cause she and her husband shame. In these responses to the condition of challenges that Hana's first year in California brings, it becomes clear that Hana takes a practical and pragmatic approach to solving problems.
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