1. When Ichiro goes to the diner, he is greeted by a young Japanese server with a patronizing attitude. Wearing a discharge button on his shirt to prove that he is a “top flight American,” the server condescendingly asks Ichiro if he is Japanese. Ichiro counters the rude question by saying that he is Chinese and was honored with two Purple Hearts and five Battle stars. Why do you think the Japanese server initially harassed Ichiro? What does this say of Asian American identity during this time? How does this scene connect with the 1941 Life Magazine article, “How to Tell Japs from the Chinese”?
2. What are the similarities and differences between the relationships Kenji and Ichiro have with their fathers? What factors contribute to these differences? What do their relationships with their fathers say about generational tension within Japanese families during this time?
3. After receiving her sister’s letter from Japan, Ichiro’s mother’s sanity quickly unravels, causing her to drown herself in the bathtub. What causes the mother’s downfall? How does this relate to our discussion of mad women in previous texts? What do you make of the quote, ‘If anything, my hatred for you would have grown’? Does Ichiro’s self-loathing directly relate to his mother?
One thought on “Beth’s Reading Questions for September 25”
I really like thinking about question 2 especially when we read about them conversing with each other about their families. I actually feel like while Ichiro’s relationship with his parents is much less open and free than Kenji’s relationship with his father, their relationships with their dads are similar in a lot of ways.
They both can talk to their fathers about how they are feeling and sort of be open with them, Kenji and his father obviously more so, but all the same that sense of openness with their fathers in particular is there. I also think its interesting to consider that both fathers play more of a maternal role in both of their lives, and I think its fascinating that they both have this common. Since Kenji’s father was a single parent he had to play both paternal and maternal roles. Ichiro sees this in his father enough to say that he should have been the wife in his parents relationship.