Farewell To Manzanar

by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, James D. Houston

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How was society's reception towards returning Japanese-Americans?

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Even after the horrors of Manzanar end, it becomes clear that Japanese- Americans could not experience "home."  In "Death of the Hired Man," Robert Frost writes of home that “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, / They have to take you in.”   This is not the case for Japanese- Americans when they reenter society.  Jeanne finds examples of both overt and covert racism directed against Japanese people.  Her "home" in terms of American society is not one where "they have to take you in."  It turns out to be quite the opposite in that Jeanne and her family try to resume a "normal" life and are confronted with the repeated reminder that they are the outsiders.  

Social marginalization as well as the internal desire to want to be someone or something else are both realities that Jeanne and her family have to face.  Her desire to want blond hair and her experiences in being turned away from organizations and activities that other children can experience are realities in which being "different" was a predicament synonymous with prejudice and discrimination.  There really was no "home" for Japanese- Americans in a post- war society where they were seen as "the other."  The social reception that people like Jeanne and her family experience was rooted in alienation and marginalization.  There was not a welcome embrace.  Rather, the sting of Manzanar and the reality of being something other than the norm stuck out, making life very difficult for the young Jeanne.  Her emergence through this becomes a statement of survival in a time and condition where survival and happiness were far from guaranteed realities.

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