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The Girl with the White Flag

By azizbhullar5 Aug 11, 2014 1329 Words
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Aziz Bhullar"
Jaqueline Seydel"
English 10"
29 May 2014 "

The Survival of Tomiko Higa"
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Tomiko Higa is the author of the book The Girl With the White Flag. The book depicts

the realities of war through the eyes of the protagonist, who is a little girl known as Tomiko. Tomiko lives on the island of Okinawa and resides with her family. When the war of Okinawa starts, she is separated from her family and struggles to survive. She has to forage for food, shelter, and her lost sisters. She delves within to find the strength and courage to survive. In this narrative, the author uses literary devices to project the travails of the refugees in the Battle of Okinawa. The narrative is in a first-person mode using implicit and explicit quotes which allows the reader to empathize with Tomiko’s thoughts and emotions. Through the use of implicit and explicit quotes, Tomiko Higa is able to uncover the harsh realities of life such as facing death and is able represent the transformation of a young timid girl into a mature and fearless person. In the beginning of the story, Tomiko is depicted as a naive girl who is sheltered by her family. In her book, Tomiko Higa projects her father as a strict disciplinarian, determined to ensure that his children learn the lessons needed for life. This is reflected in the quote, “It must have hurt. But you’ve got to learn that seeds are next in importance to life. If you eat them up, you won’t have any beans next year. And not only you, but Yoshiko and Hatsuko and Chokuyo. None of you will have any beans to eat. Do you understand! You mustn’t ever eat seeds again” (Higa, P.31). This quote is explicit as it directly states that Tomiko

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should not eat the beans, so the reader doesn’t have to make any inferences about what is happening in the story. Also, this quote shows the strictness of her father. In life, fathers always have to look after their kids and create rules for them to follow. A girl’s father is a significant person in her life. A father guides and protects her by all means. Afterwards, Tomiko portrays her father as a very brave and courageous man who fulfills his responsibilities towards his family, which is depicted in this quote, “Now I want you all to listen carefully. There’s going to be fighting here in Okinawa very soon. Life’s not going to be peaceful for us any more. You must be prepared, so that when the time comes, you’ll be able to keep your head and know what to do” (Higa, p.36). This quote is also explicit as in the quote Tomiko voices that her father is guiding his children for their survival. In war, there is isolation, and no one knows whether the family is alive or dead. Family is important to us as they help provide the support and comfort needed to prepare for life. When Tomiko lived with her family, she was protected, and she was sheltered by her family. The war transformed her into a brave and courageous person.

When the war started, she had to face many tough obstacles. However, these hurdles helped her grow as an individual. She had to cope with her brother’s death, see many Japanese soldiers commit suicide, and witness the deaths of many innocent civilians from the destruction of war. Also, she was separated from her family and had to survive on her own. Tomiko grew as a person from these hardships. She reflects this change through the following lines, “Poor man, I thought as I started to walk past him, he must have been pulled by one of those bullets. By that time, I had seen so many dead bodies here and there that I had become quite used to the site and was not frightened” (Higa, P.55). This quote is explicit as it expresses that Tomiko doesn’t have

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to feel uncomfortable when near the sight of dead bodies. This quote depicts the transition of a fearful girl to a courageous person. If Tomiko would have experienced this earlier in the narrative, she would have not been able to cope with the dreadful sight of dead soldiers. Afterwards, Tomiko comes across an experience that displays one of the toughest memories in her life, which is Illustrated by the quote, “I said to myself as I walked along, resigned to my fate, staring at the round hole from which I expected a bullet to come toward me any minute” (Higa, P.110). This quote is implicit as the reader doesn’t know if Tomiko is going to live or die. It helps her grow and learn how to take life as it comes. This quote is strong as it reflects the statement that Tomiko has no problem accepting her fate of life and death. This is very courageous as our society is shown to not have the will power to make a choice that big. Tomiko is able to then enlighten the reader on the realities of life presenting that Tomiko doesn’t have a problem of facing death.

After living through these experiences, Tomiko was transformed into a fearless and confident person, who no longer depends on others to take care of herself. In this story, Tomiko reflects to the reader about the outcome of her experiences by citing, “ I resolved then and there to write about my experiences in the hope that such suffering might never be repeated” (Higa, P. 127). This quote is explicit as Tomiko is exhibiting to the reader that she had resolved her experiences about war. This also explains that the suffering of war is so harsh, that a person does not want it to happen to them again. War can have an effect on a person’s mental health which can cause a definite increase in the incidence and prevalence of mental disorders. War also impacts women more then men emotionally. In the end, Tomiko was transformed from a sheltered girl to a woman capable of living on her own.

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After the war ended, Tomiko writes that she must move on with her life and forget the cruel memories of the war. She presents this to the reader by citing , “It was a scene straight out of hell. There is no other way to describe it. And sad and painful though it was, we could not afford to linger, and so we set off again trekking south” (Higa, P. 48). This quote is implicit as we don’t know what scene Tomiko is referring to in the book. Some readers may believe that it may be describing only one specific scene in the book, others may think that it is talking about Tomiko’s experience of war as a whole. I believe that this quote in the book reflects Tomiko’s experience of combat as a whole. This quotation also uncovers the truth that Tomiko is determined to move on. She expresses to the reader that having written about her experiences of war is a catharsis, and she is going to have to move on. In this story, Tomiko is able to depict in her writing that through the brutal experience of battle an innocent, timid girl can become a dauntless and gallant individual.

From this story, Tomiko is able to represent the truth of a female utilizing her experience of war to turn herself into a valiant and risk taking individual that will do anything to survive in life. Like Tomiko, if we confront our tough times with courage, we will be able to face our obstacles with bravery. It can also transform us and helps us evolve. I feel life as like a roller coaster, if we don’t take risks and keep going on the same pattern then we would not be able to ascend in our character.

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