Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 317
Much of the novel consists of the thoughts of the protagonist, Hiro Tanaka, as he spends a considerable amount of time alone. It also includes the narrator’s background information about Hiro's life before arriving in the United States. Hiro has in mind a mosaic of American culture drawn from movies and music. He envisions an idyllic future, in which he would
blend in with the masses, find himself a job, an apartment with western furniture and Japanese appliances, with toaster ovens and end tables and deep thick woolly carpets that climbed up the walls like a surging tide. Then he’d be safe, then he could play miniature golf and eat cheeseburgers.
Although Hiro is mesmerized by the promise of America, he also thinks condescendingly of America's many failings. When asked if he speaks English, he says that of course he does.
And he was proud of the accomplishment. Americans with their big feet and blustering condescension to the rest of the world, knew no language but their own.
The American characters’ stereotypes of Asians are also presented. Lewis Turco, a temporary immigration service agent, says of the Japanese,
They’re all part of this big team, this like Eagle Scout thing where everybody fits in and works real hard and makes this perfect and totally unique society. Because they’re superior to everybody else, they’re purer—that’s what they think.
Ruth, who later comes to befriend and then exploit Hiro, initially thinks he must be Chinese but then reflects on her limited interactions with Asian people in the United States.
But then she’d never traveled any farther east than the sushi bars of Little Japan or the chop suey houses of Chinatown, and to this point in her life she’d never had any need to differentiate one nationality from another . . . She knew Asians only as people who served dishes with rice.