Obasan Book Report

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I decided to read the novel by Joy Kogawa entitled Obasan. The novel was written in 1981 and told the details of how the Japanese were discriminated against during World War 2. The author’s main purpose was to educated the reader on how hard life really was for her family and other Japanese Canadians living in British Columbia, and especially in Vancouver. Joy Kogawa tried to show how ignorant British Columbians really were, and that we still do not fully understand what really happened during the war. She also tries to teach Canadians the culture of the Japanese.

The novel starts in the seventies with Naomi a teacher in Northern Alberta finding out that her uncle has died. When Naomi returns home to console her Aunt Obasan, she begins to relive the difficulties of her life. She recounts the struggle against the government and themselves while trying to stay in Vancouver. Naomi is very small at the time of the war and did not really fully understand what was happening to her race. The novel recounts the struggle of Naomi’s Aunt Emily to ensure that her family would be together in whatever place they were sent to. Aunt Emily wanted to head east to Toronto, but was unable to get the documentation for the entire family which included her sister children, who she was taking care of. The novel discuses the camps that the Japanese families were sent to in Hastings Park during the war. It described the treatment the families received while there, including the lack of food and the smell of manure. Naomi during this time was being sexually molested by her next door neighbor and did not tell anybody about this. Naomi seems resentful during the novel, as she comes across as a quiet little girl, who does not seem to interact with many people. Aunt Emily finally finds a place in Slocan for the family to go live, but just before they leave finds out her and her immediate family could go to Toronto. This leaves Aunt Emily going to Toronto...
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