- Topic #1
Throughout the novel, Kogawa refers to the silence within Naomi’s family, both in terms of questions that go unanswered and in terms of information that is withheld. Detail how silence becomes a crucial part of Naomi’s upbringing, and what she concludes about the significance of silence in her own experience and that of her peers.
I. Thesis statement: Silence may protect hurt feelings in the short-term, but it is a destructive force when it comes to preserving and understanding history.
II. Silence is a choice within Naomi’s extended family “because of the children.”
A. The exile process from Vancouver and from Slocan is not discussed until the last minute.
B. The family keeps secret the status of Mother and Grandmother Kato in Japan; meanwhile, Mother and Grandmother Kato had asked them to.
C. The status of relatives’ health is kept secret from the children.
1. Grandpa Nakane’s health and death are a secret.
2. The seriousness of Father’s health conditions are minimized.
3. The Kato family’s extinction in Nagasaki is kept secret.
D. Naomi’s choice to be silent about sex abuse by Old Man Gower.
E. Obasan’s silence—both as a conscious choice and result of old age.
III. Silence results from racism and government regulations targeted at Japanese.
A. Visitors disappear from the Nakane home in Vancouver.
B. Naomi’s schoolmates reject her at the bathhouse in Slocan.
IV. Aunt Emily reacts to silence with “noise” and communication.
A. Belief that the truth will set you free.
B. Urges family and Naomi not to bury the past.
C. Contrasts with Naomi’s attitude that the past can’t be changed and is not worth studying.
V. Conclusion: Silence is...
(The entire section is 604 words.)