Farewell To Manzanar

by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

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In Farewell to Manzanar, what are three causes and their effects?

Quick answer:

The bombing of Pearl Harbor causes anti-Japanese sentiment. Jeanne and her family are sent to Manzanar for being Japanese. Her father burns documents that would connect him to Japan and a flag from there, but he is still taken away before they are sent. They move to Terminal Island to be closer to other family members and live in a more racially diverse community. Terminal Island is then cleared out because it's too close to a Navy base and the families lose their possessions.

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The bombing of Pearl Harbor, the arrest of Jeanne's father, and the clearing of Terminal Island are all three major causes of events in the story; each one has an effect on Jeanne and her family's life.

The first major cause of events is the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This causes a wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in the United States that leads to Japanese people being sent to internment camps. Jeanne and her family are sent to a camp called Manzanar. Her father realizes what's going to happen and burns documents connecting him to Japan and a flag he brought from there as well. However, he's still taken away before the family is sent to the camp.

Jeanne's father being taken away causes the family to move to Terminal Island. This is to be closer to her other family members and to live in a community that's more racially diverse than Ocean Park. Jeanne has trouble adjusting and they live in much worse circumstances than before.

However, Terminal Island is cleared out because the government believes it's unsafe to have Japanese people that close to a Navy base. The family loses a lot of their things. Salespeople come to buy what can't be taken with the families that are leaving. Jeanne's mother breaks her plates on the floor rather than accept an extremely low price from a person who knows she's desperate.

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One significant cause in Farewell to Manzanar is the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. A specific effect of Pearl Harbor is the internment of all Japanese people by the US government. After Papa is taken by government officials, the family is forced to relocate to the internment camp of Manzanar in April of 1942.

When Papa is arrested and deemed to be a spy, it triggers his own decline. It emotionally breaks him. The effect of his arrest is that he feels as if he has no home. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, Papa burned the Japanese flag he had brought with him and pledged allegiance to America. A result of his arrest is that Papa feels that America turned its back on him. The effects of this betrayal are that his alcoholism increases and Jeanne notices how he is never again the same in his interactions with the family.

An effect of internment at Manzanar is the loss of Jeanne's innocence. Jeanne learns the difficult and uncomfortable reality of prejudice. She comes to recognize that she will always be seen as "the other" in American society because of her ethnicity:

I smiled and sat down, suddenly aware of what being of Japanese ancestry was going to be like. I wouldn’t be faced with physical attack, or with overt shows of hatred. Rather, I would be seen as someone foreign, or as someone other than American, or perhaps not be seen at all.

An effect of Jeanne's imprisonment is a change in perception about the country she once fully embraced as her home. She understands that the stain of internment means that her Japanese ancestry will cause her to be seen as different. When she says that she will be seen as "other than American" or "not be seen at all," the effect of internment on her perception is evident. It has forever changed her. While she will not swallow Papa's bitterness, she has lost her innocence about the promises and possibilities of America.

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