Life Experiences in Farewell to Manzanar
The book, Farewell to Manzanar was the story of a young Japanese girl coming of age in the interment camp located in Owens Valley, California. Less than two months after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which stated that the War Department had the right to declare which people were a threat to the country, and move them wherever they so pleased1. Since the West Coast had a large number of Japanese immigrants at the time, it was basically an act that authorized the government to remove Japanese residing on the West Coast away from their homes and put them in these interment camps. As harsh as it may sound, the interment camps were nothing like the famous Nazi interment camps of World War 2. The residents enjoyed relatively comfortable living situations compared to German interment camps, and lived fairly comfortable lives, when compared to the German camps. However, it was still rough, as many families were separated. Farewell to Manzanar is the story of one girl making the difficult transition to womanhood, at a difficult time, at a difficult location. Two of the main life lessons that Jeannie learned during her stay at Manzanar dealt with the issues of her identity of an American against her Japanese heritage, and also with school.
During her time at Manzanar, Jeannie was surrounded by almost exclusively Japanese people, and did not have much exposure to Caucasians, or people of other races. Therefore, she did not know what to truly expect when she went out into the "school world" outside of Manzanar. She had received some schooling while in Manzanar, however, the American schools were drastically different from the schools inside of Manzanar. While inside Manzanar, Jeannie learned more skills in the fine arts, such as baton twirling, and ballet. The "hard" subjects were taught, but she doesn't mention as much about them as she does about baton...
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