Community in Citizen 13660

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Jeanette Nadeau
English 2630
Essay #1

Creation of Community in Citizen 13660

In Citizen 13660, Miné Okubo very often portrays the lack of privacy - whether personal body space or privacy in her own room. The lack of privacy is mentioned several times throughout the book, and also appears in her drawings. On page 76, the lack of privacy is very obvious. She mentions before this page that the women were, at first, very timid about showering in such a public area, but after a while they got used to it (75). Privacy is an important privilege, but in Okubo's graphic memoir one is able to see how the absence of this privilege leads to the almost paradoxical creation of a closely knit community.

Throughout her book, Okubo talks about several different areas where privacy was seriously lacking. She mentions how it was a common sight to see the older women using pails, dishpans, or tubs to wash in (76), and on page 140, she says, "Those who wished privacy went into the wide open spaces." While this statement seems like a contradiction, these situations were fairly normal in the internment camps. Everything that should have been private was not. Things such as bathing, using the restrooms, and even sleeping were all done in places where there was no privacy.

Privacy in the internment camps was almost impossible to achieve. But because these people were forced to live so closely together, a strong sense of community was created. The experiences they were going through were shared - none of them were private because they were all in it together. These shared emotions and feelings formed a powerful impression of togetherness. An example of this "togetherness" is portrayed in pages 180 and 181 where an elderly resident is shot and the people gather for a memorial service. The women even go so far as to make wreaths out of paper flowers for this resident - a person many of them probably didn't even know.

This sense of community made through the lack of privacy...
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