Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Farewell to Manzanar: A True Story of Japanese American Experience During and After the World War II Internment is a first-person account of the United States government’s systematic relocation of thousands of Japanese Americans living on the West Coast just after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. The book, written by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and her husband, James D. Houston, takes the form of a family memoir, beginning with seven-year-old Jeanne’s impressions of being singled out because of the way she looked. Farewell to Manzanar’s twenty-two chapters are arranged in three separate sections, each section delineating the progression of one family’s experiences and subsequent efforts to deal with the injustice and indignities of being uprooted and sequestered behind barbed wire fences in the California foothills.

The first section recalls the confusion and frustration that the Wakatsuki family faced as they learned about the U.S. government’s plans to relocate Japanese Americans for reasons of national security. Mr. Wakatsuki was soon arrested and sent to an internment camp in North Dakota for Japanese-American males. While he was away, the Wakatsuki family was finally relocated to Manzanar Camp, a one-mile-square area in the eastern shade of Mount Whitney that fenced in ten thousand Japanese Ameri-cans for nearly four years. Through the eyes of young Jeanne, the authors outline the various offenses that the...

(The entire section is 593 words.)