Journey to Topaz Topics for Discussion
by Yoshiko Uchida

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Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

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1. What was special or unusual about Yuki's life in Berkeley?

2. The Sakanes entertain many students from Japan at their home. Does this make them more loyal to Japan than to the U.S.? Why would they entertain so many people from Japan?

3. Mr. Sakane is not an American citizen, and he works for a Japanese company. Is the U.S. government right to be concerned that he might try to aid Japan's war effort? Is the government justified in arresting him and putting him in prison in Montana?

4. Yuki and her family had to give up most of their belongings, even their dog Pepper. They could take only what they could carry with them to Tanforan. If you had to evacuate your home and could take with you only that which you could carry, what would you take? Why?

5. Were you upset when Yuki learned that Pepper had died? Why? In real life, Yoshiko Uchida lost her dog when she was taken to Tanforan. How do you think she felt about losing her dog? Why do you think so?

6. When Japan attacked the U.S., both Italy and Germany declared war on the U.S. During the war, both Italian- Americans and German-Americans were subjected to some hostility from other Americans and were discriminated against, but they were not interned. Why were Japanese-Americans singled out for such harsh treatment?

7. Death appears often in Journey to Topaz: Yuki's old way of life dies; Mr. Kurihara's heart seems to die; Pepper dies far from his family; Mr. Kurihara is shot to death. The people at Topaz who die are buried outside the fence, as if only in death can they escape from their imprisonment. Later, others find ways to leave, such as by going to college, but the people of Topaz seem to fear dying so far from their homes. What effects do these different kinds of deaths have on Yuki? How does she mature by coming to understand what these different kinds of death mean? Why should the kinds of deaths the internees endure be any worse than the deaths people outside the camps must endure? Why do they fear dying in Topaz rather than somewhere else?

8. If your neighbors were threatened with being rounded up and taken to concentration camps by the government, what would you do? Would you remain uninvolved, resist the removal of your neighbors, or accept the government's action but offer comfort to your neighbors? Could you do anything more or different than the Sakanes' friends did? Would the race of those taken away make any difference to you? What if the internees were not your friends? What if you disliked...

(The entire section is 659 words.)