So Far from the Bamboo Grove

by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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How do the Kawashimas treat the train patients in So Far from the Bamboo Grove?

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The Kawashimas go out of their way to be kind to the patients on the train.

With the help of Corporal Matsumura, the Kawashimas secure a place on a hospital train headed for Seoul.  The boxcar in which they are loaded is filled with sick and injured patients, "some groan(ing) in pain, some...cry(ing) for help".  Yoko is quick to offer water from her canteen to a pregnant woman who is thirsty; although Ko dispassionately cautions her sister to save her water, it is not long until she too is doing what she can for those in need.  Mother tries to comfort a woman whose newborn has died, clipping the baby's fingernails to give the mother a keepsake before the body of her child is taken from her.  Ko gives one of her blankets to another patient, and the family shares what little water they have until there is nothing left.

It is Mother who makes sure that the girls act with complete mercy and kindness in their relations with the others.  At the end of the first day of traveling, Yoko is hungry and would like to eat something from the food they have packed.  Mother does not allow her to, however, because no one in the boxcar has eaten all day, and there is not enough to go around.  To eat in front of others who are starving would be rude and insensitive, so Yoko goes to bed hungry that night and fasts long into the next day (Chapter 2).

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