Student Question

What event in No-No Boy changes Ichiro's understanding of his past and future?

Quick answer:

As the story opens, Ichiro is defined by the fact that he refused to join the army. He fears that his choice has ruined his life and robbed him of a future. However, as the story continues, he realizes that everyone is messed up. When his mother commits suicide, he begins to see things differently. He realizes that those who served in the war are often worse off than he is. The turning point for Ichiro comes when he gets into a fight and fights back. The ending of this fight leaves him feeling hopeful and hopeful that a future is possible for him.

Expert Answers

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As the novel opens Ichiro’s life is defined by the one fact that he refused to join the army.  He fears that this choice has ruined his life, ostracized him, and robbed him of a future.  However, as the story continues he realizes that everyone is messed up.  The turning point for Ichiro is when his mother commits suicide.  This seems to free both Ichiro and his father to make their own choices, and look at the world as they will, without their views being contaminated by her black despair and denial.

After Ichiro’s death, he is offered a job and considers taking it.  He goes out with his friends and gets into mischief at the bars, but he comes to realize that those who served in the war are sometimes worse off than him.  Kenji is succumbing to his wounds, for example.  When Ichiro gets in a fight, he fights back.  He leaves the fight feeling that a future is possible.

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