Loss of Identity in When the Emperor was Divine
“As we got off the bus, we found ourselves in a large area amidst a sea of friendly Japanese faces, “, stated by a once twelve-year old Nisei Florence Miho Nakamura in her account of her internment camp experience (Tong, 3). This initial experience was common among many Japanese, as they were uprooted from their homes and relocated to government land. Although, they had been asked to leave their homes and American way of life, many had no idea of what was to greet them on the other side. As a result of the unknown, many Japanese had no time to prepare themselves for the harshness and scrutiny they faced in the internment camps. Interment camps not only took a toll on the Japanese physically, but also emotionally; thus, resulting in a shift in their overall lives. The novel When the Emperor was Divine explores the loss of self, physical, and cultural/social identity among the Japanese during World War II. Initially we must understand how the idea of internment camps came to pass in order to provide a contextual background of why the Japanese suffered harsh treatment. On December 7th, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. This unfortunate event created hysteria among Americans. Many were outraged as well as terrified of what had taken place. Amidst this hysteria, many Americans felt a distrust among the Japanese, many whom at this time were classified as Nisei, and aimed to disassociate themselves with the Japanese. The day after the attack on Pearl Harbor the United States as well as Great Britain declared war on Japan (JARDA). Nearly, 74 days later, the lives of many Japanese would change (Rentelen, 619). Approximately 122,000 Japanese were required to leave their homes and relocate, due to Executive Order 9066, signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. It was the belief that the Japanese would be separate from Americans in order to provide safety on the home-front, as well providing time to sift...
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