1. Chapter nine begins in a buddhist church, bringing religion to the forefront of a novel focused so heavily on the intricacies of identity in an ever-changing socio-cultural landscape. The only other instances we really see religion brought out are in chapter one, in which a man professes to the judge he is not like those “Shinto freaks” (31), and in chapter ten, in which Ichiro reflects upon his relationship with Tommy and the christian church. How does Ichiro regard religion, and, by extension, how does Okada intend for us to regard it? Which of these religions get expanded upon and which get more or less discarded, and why?

2. In the final chapter, Freddie gets into an argument with the Japanese man behind the cigar counter of the pool hall. As it escalates, reference is made to the man as “the enemy” (212). What is the significance of this, and how does this use of the term vary (or not vary) from other uses of it in the book (47, 62, 91, 96, 110)? Is it significant that the statement was not explicitly made by Freddie or Ichiro, but was instead placed as narration?

3. Taro comes and goes pretty abruptly throughout the first half of the novel — his first appearance followed by Ichiro’s confession of having “hardly thought of him” (17). Ichiro reaches out to him after their mother’s passing, though nothing comes of it. With that in mind, why is the man who announces Freddie’s death to Ichiro described as “a Japanese youth, probably about Taro’s age […] flushed with excitement” (219)? Is this merely part of the broader discussion of intergenerational differences, or is there some reason behind the specific reference?

Bekah’s Reading Questions for September 27

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