In the next months, Mama and Papa grow closer together. Meanwhile, the camp population is dwindling. Some people have managed to relocate to the outside through “sponsors,” and others have joined the military. Most of those who remain are very old or very young.
The fact that able-bodied people are more and more able to leave shows that Manzanar has become more of a shelter than a prison, providing a place to stay for older and younger people who are unable to navigate life in the increasingly anti-Asian climate of America.
A few months after Eleanor gives birth, she moves to Reno and lives with friends there. Woody receives his draft notice in August 1944; Papa suggests that he could refuse to report for duty, but Woody is determined to go. In November, he leaves camp along with nineteen other young men. A photo of their departure later appears in the camp paper. Jeanne is almost as distraught as if Papa were leaving, since Woody has been such a bulwark to the family.
Jeanne’s sadness shows her reliance on her family but also emphasizes how much that family has changed, in that she now considers Woody a more effective father figure than Papa himself.
As Jeanne watches Woody depart, she stands between Mama and Chizu; because of this, she remembers the day three years earlier when they watched the fishing boats sail away, only to return once news of the Pearl Harbor bombing arrived. Now, though, the entire camp has gathered; the Japanese-American regiment Woody will be joining is now famous, proving its patriotism by fighting heroically in Europe. Jeanne imagines that Woody must be thinking of his own opportunity to demonstrate courage, while Mama must be remembering another Manzanar mother whose son has recently been killed in Italy.
It’s important that the entire camp gathers to see off the young men with pride. Even though they’re excluded from American society and considered disloyal, they still feel themselves to be Americans and are proud to contribute to the war effort.
In some ways, Woody’s departure is a typical wartime moment— “full of proud smiles and half-concealed worry.” However, it’s complicated by th uncertainties of internment—Mama and Papa don’t even know where they will be living, or what their citizenship status will be, when Woody returns. Jeanne says that when the answers to these questions become clear, the family only becomes more worried.
Jeanne’s childhood—and the Wakatsuki family’s experience of the war—is no less “American” than anyone else’s, as this “typical” moment shows. Yet, internment adds additional layers and difficulties to it.