Why has Woody assumed a leadership role in Farewell to Manzanar?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Woody ends up assuming a role of leadership in the narrative because his is the voice of empowerment.  In contrast to Papa, who is immersed in an almost tragic condition given his loyalty to America and its betrayal towards him, Woody clearly recognizes his course of action.  Woody assumes leadership precisely because he does not back down to what America did to Japanese- Americans.  Woody understands that the way to challenge discrimination and prejudice is to fight back and create opportunities that can be used as a way to buffer the pain of being "the other."  Papa lives in this sad predicament of what it means to be an outsider.  Woody defies it and demands that his narrative is appropriated into what it means to be American.

Woody assumes a role of leadership because Papa is not able to exert that sense of power and authority. Papa's own conflicted sense of being was one in which leadership was impossible. He struggled with so much in way of complexity that being able to articulate a condition of leading others was absent.  Woody lacked this complexity. He was fairly direct in being able to assert his identity and his wants.  When he wanted to learn more about his ancestry, he did. When he served his country, he did.  It is through this forceful nature of action that Woody was able to assume a role of leadership.

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