Jeanne takes on Papa’s perspective, imagining his intake interview at Fort Lincoln. Papa tells the officer his name and the story of his early life in Japan. He affirms that he’s never returned to Japan and hasn’t been in contact with his family there. He says he has ten children but can’t remember all their names because “ten is too many to remember.”
Papa’s glib answers to the questions shows his refusal to consider himself a prisoner or spy. Even though he’s not making himself seem more trustworthy, he’s maintaining his dignity and conception of himself as an honorable man.
Papa laughs off the accusations that he’s delivered oil to Japanese submarines. The large drums he carries on his boats, he explains, contain fish guts that he uses as bait.
The fact that Papa’s quotidian fishing supplies are interpreted as evidence of espionage shows how unsubstantiated allegations of Japanese-American disloyalty are.
The officer asks Papa what he thinks about the Pearl Harbor bombing, and Papa says that he feels “sad for both countries.” He says that he would not want his sons to serve in the army, because the military always wants to go to war, even when it’s not necessary. He says that he believes America will win the war due to superior resources, and that he “weeps” for his country.
It’s brave of Papa to admit his positive feelings for Japan, rather than just professing loyalty to America. While the government demands that Japanese-Americans turn their backs on their native country and heritage, Papa insists on his right to a complex identity and complex loyalties.
The officer asks Papa if Japan is still his country, and if he is loyal to the Emperor. In response, Papa asks how old the officer is. The officer is twenty-nine, which means that Papa has been living in the U.S. nine years longer than he has been alive; yet, he points out, he’s forbidden from becoming a citizen or owning land, and he has no rights preventing him from being separated from his family.
Papa is pointing out the logical fallacy in arguments for internment. The government believes that Japanese citizens are disloyal because they haven’t been in America long enough—yet Papa has lived in America, and demonstrated his commitment to the country, longer than many young soldiers whose loyalty is never questioned.
The officer resumes his questions about Papa’s loyalty to Japan. Papa sighs and poses the question, “When your mother and your father are having a fight, do you want them to kill each other,” or stop fighting?