Racial Discrimination Present in Joy Kogawa’s Obasan
by: Natasha T.
Discrimination is the unfair difference in treatment of people based on gender, race, disability, or religion. Being discriminated against is very hurtful, which is seen through Joy Kogawa’s Obasan. During World War II, the Japanese Canadians face racial discrimination, like Naomi and her family. Stephen faced several incidence of racial discrimination which leads him to hate himself and his race, Aunt Emily has been more motivated to fight for rights. Naomi learns about her past through the racism she faced. Moreover, the book Obasan exemplifies how racial prejudice against people can deeply penetrate, change one’s lifestyle, and outlook to life. Indeed, Stephen faces a lot of racial discrimination during his childhood which has affected him. He endures enough racial discrimination to make him obtain a negative outlook towards his heritage. This is seen through several incidents in the book. For instance, when Stephen is given the Yellow Peril board game, he expresses how downgrading it is to be a yellow pawn, Japanese. “To be yellow in the Yellow Peril game is to be weak and small. Yellow is to be chicken. I am not yellow” (pg.165). This quotation exemplifies how Stephen is not proud of being Japanese or appearing as an Asian. Furthermore, Stephen is picked on a lot by school peers which results in him being very cold. One day he comes home from school with his glasses broken. A peer tells him, “All the Jap kids at school are going to be sent away and they’re bad and you’re a Jap (pg. 75).” Those words hurt Stephen. Moreover, those words have obviously been picked up from the child’s parents. Also, this shows how children soak up words from their parents and become brainwashed. The exposure of children to racism is tormenting. Furthermore, Stephen starts to separate himself from his race. Stephen tries to cut off his...
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