Loss of Identity in When the Emperor was Divine
“As we got off the coach. we found ourselves in a big country amidst a sea of friendly Nipponese faces. “ . stated by a one time twelve-year old Nisei Florence Miho Nakamura in her history of her internment cantonment experience ( Tong. 3 ) . This initial experience was common among many Nipponese. as they were uprooted from their places and relocated to authorities land. Although. they had been asked to go forth their places and American manner of life. many had no thought of what was to recognize them on the other side. As a consequence of the unknown. many Nipponese had no clip to fix themselves for the abrasiveness and examination they faced in the internment cantonments. Interment camps non merely took a toll on the Nipponese physically. but besides emotionally ; therefore. ensuing in a displacement in their overall lives. The novel When the Emperor was Divine explores the loss of ego. physical. and cultural/social individuality among the Japanese during World War II. Initially we must understand how the thought of internment cantonments came to go through in order to supply a contextual background of why the Nipponese suffered rough intervention. On December 7th. 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor. This unfortunate event created craze among Americans. Many were outraged every bit good as terrified of what had taken topographic point. Amidst this craze. many Americans felt a misgiving among the Japanese. many whom at this clip were classified as Nisei. and aimed to dissociate themselves with the Japanese.
The twenty-four hours after the onslaught on Pearl Harbor the United States every bit good as Great Britain declared war on Japan ( JARDA ) . About. 74 yearss subsequently. the lives of many Nipponese would alter ( Rentelen. 619 ) . Approximately 122. 000 Nipponese were required to go forth their places 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 supply safety on the home-front. as good supplying clip to sift through the Nipponese during WWII in order to separate those who were loyal. from those who were non ( JARDA ) . It was during this clip. at the internment cantonments. that a loss of individuality began to happen among the Japanese. In “When the Emperor was Divine” one of the immediate things noticed is the fact that the four chief characters are unidentified. Often times in a novel. the characters are provided names in an attempt to assist the reader better understand the character as a whole.
Sometimes characters are even given names that are instead descriptive such as ; Lois Lowry’s. “The Giver” in which one of the chief characters is named Giver as a agency of stressing the penetration and lessons he gives to Jonas. Awkwardly. in “When the Emperor was Divine” we do non derive such insight through the characters names. for they are merely known as the Mother. Father. Daughter. and Son. Consequently. the fact that the household is uprooted from their place and placed in internment cantonments where they are treated like captives and assigned Numberss works to back up their anonymity ( Rentelen. 619 ) . Therefore. it is apparent that the writers desire to maintain the characters nameless. merely showcases the loss of individualism many Nipponese faced when they were removed from their places and normalities and transported to authorities land. It is clear that the characters we meet in the beginning of the fresh differ from the characters we have come to cognize at the terminal of the novel. They no longer experience afforded the chances they one time held. nor respected by the friends they one time associated with.
Their individuality has demolished and their names mean nil in the community. they are merely recognized as Japs-the enemy. Furthermore. along the same lines of showcasing a loss of individuality ties into how the characters are stripped of the things they love and enjoy. In the gap of the novel we realize the household is go forthing. although we do non cognize precisely where they are headed. we realize they have to go forth everything behind that they can non suit in their duffel bag bags. Among the things to be left behind are the animate beings every bit good. Like most persons with animate beings. pets are considered portion of the household. It is clear that White Dog is a portion of the household. and has been for rather a piece now. The male childs concern when he can non happen White Dog works to demo the connexion they have. for it is evident it is everyday that he checks on the dog each twenty-four hours after school. Likewise the characters. like many of those who endured internment cantonments. continue to lose the really things they one time cherished. In Justin Ewer’s “Journey Into a Dark Past” 15 twelvemonth old Betty Abe says. “Some Whites swooped down on Nipponese communities looking for deals. Cars. silverware. furniture-all were gobbled up for a fraction of their value ( Ewers. 3 ) . ”
Similarly another reading that explored kids of the internment cantonment speaks of how many of the kids were ab initio excited to take a trip but. “Such feelings. nevertheless. were tempered by the at hand losingss of friends. pets. and toys ( Tong. 13 ) . ” We see the same type of cases in the novel. As the fresh unfolds we witness the boy’s loss of his favourite umbrella and polo-neck. both important in intending to him. Overall the household loses dad. their place ( although temporarily ) . their pets. rosebush. regard of others. etc. More significantly. it is through the characters being stripped of their ownerships that we begin to see a displacement in their individuality. We ain things because they represent us. do us experience good about ourselves. do us happy. etc. Through the loss of ownerships frequently leads to the loss of individuality. Likewise. the loss of ownerships besides affects the overall avocations of the household. The male child who was fond of baseball and kites shortly losingss entree to both. We see him deviate to playing war games with the childs in the internment cantonment and transporting a Swiss knife and a bluish rock about as his newfound hoarded wealths. We no longer see the miss playing the piano or declaiming her math facts. She really begins to look rather distant from her household.
At one point the male child even remarks on how she leaves in the forenoon and does non return until late at dark. Similarly. Charles Kikuchi. a young person that endured the internment cantonments said that his stripling sisters. “Increasingly diverged from their parents’ outlooks of modestness. domesticity. and celibacy. They insisted on have oning voguish frock. dating male equals. and disregarding their jobs. ” The article goes on to relay that much of the childs decline to conformity played out through hooliganism. stealing. smoke. gaming. hooky. and general insubordination ( Tong. 17 ) . These behaviours. in some ways. mirror the girl’s behaviour in the novel. Furthermore. the female parent shortly losingss involvement in all things related to war. She stops following the intelligence. and frequently has an unopened book in her manus. She seldom even negotiations. These are the really things that defined the unidentified character in the earlier phases of the novel. From another stance. the characters besides lose their physical individualities. The female parent is ab initio noticed for her nice and kept up visual aspect. In the gap of the novel she is frocks in a ruddy beautiful frock. with new spectacless. a hankie. nice white baseball mitts. with her hair hanging down. At Lundy’s Hardware. Joe Lundy complimented her a twosome times. “Nice glasses” and “That’s a nice ruddy frock ( Otsuka. 5-6 ) .
These remarks lead us to believe she was acknowledged for have oning nice things. In due clip these beauty tendencies begin to melt. In path to the internment camp the girl notices the female parent get downing to look tired and older. she asks. “When did you halt have oning lipstick ( Otsuka. 37 ) ? ” This inquiry works to put the tone for a displacement in the mother’s visual aspect. Subsequently on in the novel we see the female parent dressed in a wool caput scarf. loose-fitting pants. and a heavy sweater- entire contrast from her initial garb. Similarly the male parent. experiences a displacement in physical individuality when he is removed from the place in the center of the dark. Like American male parents. Nipponese male parents are considered the caput of the place. the breadwinners and suppliers. the strong one of the household. The fact the male parent was dragged from his place in the center of the dark. hatless and in slippers. goes against the preexistent image of the male parent -who is recalled every bit frequently have oning a suite. chapeau. and clean shaven. We notice a changeless battle within the boy to come to footings with his male parent being humiliated while the neighbours peeked out their Windowss. Writer Jeanne Wakatssuki Houston recalls being 7 old ages old when her male parent was removed from their place by the FBI. in which her female parent broke down shouting as she clung. “to her legs. inquiring why everyone was shouting ( Tong. 12 ) . ”
This sight to a kid can be rather put offing ; likewise. a male parent that has to digest being taken away from his kids may work to physically interrupt him down. Furthermore. the father’s letters frequently depict him as making good. but we see this isn’t rather the instance when he is released from the governments. It is bad plenty that the boy’s image of him begins to melt while off at the internment cantonment. as he indiscriminately mistakes other males as his male parent. Even more saddening is when the male parent arrives at the train station. in a wholly different image. “Our male parent. the male parent we remembered. and had dreamed of. about every night. all through the old ages of the war. was fine-looking and strong. He moved rapidly. certainly. with his caput held high in the air –The adult male who came back on the train looked much older than his 56 old ages. He wore bright white dental plates. and he’d lost the last of his hair. Whenever we put our weaponries around him we could experience his ribs through the fabric of his shirt ( Otsuka. 132 ) . ” This really case supports the impression of the father’s physical individuality loss. The household besides suffered a loss of physical individuality in relation to their geographical location. With the constitution of the internment cantonments. many Nipponese faced a sudden alteration in the ambiance.
At least 100. 000 Nipponese were forced to go forth the West seashore and travel to abandon lands of California. Idaho. Utah. Oregon. Washington. Colorado. Arizona. Wyoming. and Arkansas. Furthermore their finish was non like the places they were accustomed to. but instead racecourses. farm animal marquees. and just evidences encompassed by barbed wire that were transformed in to barbarian lodging. Small suites. like the household in the novel lived in. was frequently 16 by 20ft with small or no privateness and dirty ( Rentelin 619-620 ) . The fresh provinces. “There was no running H2O and the lavatories were a half block off ( Otsuka. 51 ) . ” Often the heat would drop below nothing and rise to 130 grades Fahrenheit ( Rentelin. 620 ) . This unfamiliar environment removed the household from everything that was normal to them. They lived in a vicinity. had a nice house. kip in their ain personally decorated sleeping rooms. played outside on their nice green lawn. and now all they knew had vanished. Therefore. in a sense their environment alteration led to a psychological and physical alteration.
The dust. extreme heat. and cold became mentally overpowering at times. Physical alterations were besides evident. “His female parent said it aged you. The Sun. She said it made you turn older ( Otsuka. 63 ) . ” The loss of cultural/social individuality besides held great significance in the novel. One of primary ways we can see this is through faith. In an effort for the American to hold greater control over the Nipponese. it was demanded that Nipponese revoke their right to pattern non-Christian beliefs. American’s felt it was rather absurd for the Nipponese to idolize the Emperor ; therefore. they banned such patterns claiming they aided in Nipponese Americans attempt to be untrusty and remain loyal to Japan ( Rentelin. 625 ) . Likewise. in the novel we see a displacement in the manner the female parent worships. There is no emperor idolizing or Shinto allowed at the internment cantonment. In an effort to showcase her American trueness. we notice the female parent takes a portrayal of Jesus to the cantonment with her and places the colourful image over her fingerstall. Curiously plenty. the mother’s inability to pattern her original beliefs. she begins practising Christian rites. such as declaiming the Lord’s Prayer.
To see this in a greater contrast the writer allows us to go cognizant of the older Nipponese adult male following door that still chants to the Imperial Palace. Through this minute it becomes more evident that the female parent is dividing from her original spiritual individuality. The loss of cultural/social individuality is besides witnessed through the alteration in the characters’ eating wonts. As the female parent is fixing for the move it is mentioned that she enjoys some rice balls and pickled plums- both nutrients which are common to the Nipponese civilization. Likewise. before the household leaves their place for the internment cantonment we notice they are sitting down at the tabular array. conversing. and sharing a repast together. Consequently. we begin to see a displacement in these types of eating wonts. Dinner is no longer a ritual after school. but instead an unstimulating event that is recognized by the sounding of a bell. In relation to nutrient choice. Nipponese civilization frequently placed veggies and rice as of import dishes in their repasts. but the internment cantonments replaced these choices with mouton. mashed murphies. and other unwanted nutrients.
Often clip the nutrient was so bad and uncommon that the housemans opted non to eat it. because they could barely stomach it ( Ewers. 3 ) . “Both kids and striplings complained the most about the quality of the bland. sometimes insanitary. food” which frequently led to stomach spasms and diarrhoea ( Tong. 14 ) . As if it was non bad plenty that cultural nutrients were replaced with swills. the households were besides banned from utilizing chopsticks. The fact that spoons and forks were allowed. but no chopsticks. plants to showcases the effort to breakdown the Nipponese civilization. “It is evident that immigrants were expected to cast their anterior cultural individuality in order to go good citizens ( Rentelin. 634 ) . ” All in all. Otsuka’s fresh gives great penetration as to how internment cantonments worked to deprive the Nipponeses of their ego. physical. and cultural individuality.
It is clear. through the supporting paperss. that the image Otsuka painted of the unidentified Nipponese household greatly mirrored the existent lives of the Nipponese internees during WWII. Through the harsh and unjust intervention inflicted on their lives. many of the Nipponese began to experience unworthy and thankless ; therefore. fostering their loss of individuality. Even upon returning to their places. if they even had places to return to. the sense of being welcome was gone. “If we did something wrong we made certain to state excuse me ( pardon me for looking at you. pardon me for sitting here. pardon me for coming back ) ( Otsuka. 122 ) . ” Life wasn’t the same. Their lives had everlastingly changed. mentally. physically. and socially.
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