Keep in mind here that theme means a core subject or main idea of the book. This particular novel, as a work of young adult fiction, draws on a couple of universal social and historical themes.
The book is similar to Snow Falling on Cedars (Gutterson) and All Quiet on the Western Front in its realistic portrayal of political and historical events/realities which shed a negative light both on our countries government, and the institution of war.
Some themes which contributed to this negativity in Eyes of the Emperor include:
- The a graphic focus on the prejudice which exists in America's history (specifically here, for Japanese American soldiers in WW2).
- Human destruction (emotional and physical) as a result of the military.
- The struggle to maintain a sense of pride and basic humanity in the eyes of adversity and prejudice.
Some of the more positive themes which are also present in the book include:
- Comaraderie and relationships which are built only through enduring a similar struggle.
- The growth and change which occurs as the result of overcoming adversity and challenges.