Obasan By Joy Kogawa

Obasan By Joy Kogawa
The book Obasan by Joy Kogawa is a good example of how racial prejudice against people can hurt and deeply wound those oppressed for life. We will look at 3 family members and how the events during World War Two effected them, first Stephen.

The Bias Stephen Endured was enough to make him hate himself and his own culture. In Stephens?s life the extreme bias towards him caused him to hate himself. He creates games in which the Japanese are weak even if they outnumber their attacker. ?There are fifty small yellow pawns inside and three big blue checker kings. To be yellow in the Yellow Peril game is to be weak and small. Yellow is to be chicken.?(152) This shows the fact that Stephen truly believes that he is forever weaker than the ?blue checkers? he will never be strong and no matter what he does he can not win. Stephen is picked on during the book and as a result he becomes very cold. He starts to not care about anything and to separate himself from his family and everything he knows.Stephen stands still as a stone. One of his hands is on the strap of his backpack ready to take it off.
?C?mon ya gimpy Jap!?
Stephen hands me his lunch box. I step backwards wanting to run away, wanting to stay with Stephen. (153-154)

Stephen is being made fun of by a group of boys who want to fight him. He faces this a lot and it is one of the causes he is cold. He believes that everyone hates him and that he is alone. Stephen tries to cut off all of his Japanese ties and unlearn the Japanese language. The constant hate of himself and his race causes this. ?He grunts as Obasan tries to help him with it. Stephen has made himself altogether unfamiliar with speaking Japanese.? (231) Stephen tries to be something he is not and does not know what it is that he wants to be. He quits being Japanese. Over all the affects on Stephen are significant. Stephen starts to hate himself and his family. Also he starts to hate his entire race.

Aunt Emily has the opposite effect. She becomes more motivated by the torture they had to endure. In her first trip from Toronto she shows all of her seminar notes on the persecution of Japanese people and she is very enthused by it. ?What a conference! Naomi you should have been their?There was so much to learn.?(33) Aunt Emily is motivated to do something against the racial prejudice. She goes to lots of seminars and she wants to fight for what she believes in. The camps have also scared Aunt Emily. She often does not want to talk about it. ?? But for all we hear about the states, Canada?s capacity for racism seems worse? there property wasn?t liquidated as ours was!?(33) Aunt Emily is jaded from her time dealing with racial prejudice. She claims that the United States of America are less racist than Canada. Aunt Emily thinks that they have always had racism against them and that the war was an excuse to imprison them.

?He knows the was just an Excuse for the racism that was already there. We were rioted against back in 1907, for heaven sakes! We?ve always faced prejudice. He knows we were no military threat.?(35)

She has been affected by the camps and thinks that it was a huge ploy to use the Japanese as a scapegoat. This proves that the interment camps affected her. Aunt Emily has been affected for the better and worst by the camps. She now is spoken against them and takes action. It was also a negative because she has those memories and fears.

The events of World War Two also affect Naomi. The Lifestyle traits of the aunt?s cause get stresses in Naomi?s life, for she must decide between traditional Japanese ways or modern Canadian living. Obasan lives on the basic requirements of life, while Emily lives in the large city of Toronto, enjoying modern day luxuries. Obasan?s house is cluttered with antique furniture and pictures.

?The house is indeed old, as she is also old. Every homemade piece of furniture, each pot holder and paper doily is a link in her lifeline. She has preserved in shelves, in cupboards, under beds ? a box of marbles, half filled coloring books, a red, white and blue rubber ball. The items are endless. Every short stub pencil, every corn flakes box stuffed with paper bags and old letters is of her ordering. They rest in the corners like parts of her body, hair cells, skin tissues, tiny specks of memory. This house is now her blood and bones.? (15)

At a young age Naomi was extremely silent, imitating the ways of Obasan, but as she matured her voice became louder and more expressive. The person responsible for this transition was Aunt Emily. Aunt Emily is the complete opposite of Obasan, due to her strong political stances. Naomi describes Emily as being very out spoken and explosive describing her as ?one of the world?s white blood cells, rushing from trouble spot to trouble spot with her medication pouring into wounds seen and not seen.? (34). Over all Naomi?s life has been harder do to her and her aunts involvement in the camps.

Over all the affects of racial prejudice against members in this family has an adverse affect of all the members. Stephen had been taught to hate himself and his race. Aunt Emily has been more motivated to fight for her cause and Naomi has been forced to choose a life style that is different.

Obasan By Joy Kogawa 8.5 of 10 on the basis of 3855 Review.