Farewell to Manzanar

by

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

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Papa Character Analysis

Ko Wakatsuki, Jeanne’s father. Headstrong and impetuous, Papa immigrated from Japan determined to make his fortune, but he never quite became economically successful in America, constantly changing his career plans and shifting his family from place to place. Papa is a deeply flawed character. He’s vain and quick to anger, he’s “absurdly proud,” and when the experience of internment drives him to despair, he expresses his feelings by showering abuse on his family. However, Papa’s dynamic personality makes him the vibrant and exciting center of family life, especially before internment—Jeanne recalls that during her early childhood, he always knew how to throw a party, even when the family had little money. While Papa holds the family together before the war, his breakdown during internment is the strongest manifestation of the family’s dissolution; it also shows his inability to maintain his personal dignity in the face of public stigma and suspicion. For many years, Jeanne shares Papa’s deep sense of personal shame, while feeling anger at his eccentric and volatile behavior. Papa dies twelve years after internment, and while his death isn’t directly connected to the experience, Jeanne says that his life “ended” there.

Papa Quotes in Farewell to Manzanar

The Farewell to Manzanar quotes below are all either spoken by Papa or refer to Papa. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Belonging in America Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Farewell to Manzanar published in 1973.
Chapter 2 Quotes

Mama took out another dinner plate and hurled it at the floor, then another and another, never moving, never opening her mouth, just quivering and glaring at the retreating dealer, with tears streaming down her cheeks.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

[Mama] would quickly subordinate her own desires to those of the family or those of the community, because she knew cooperation was the only way to survive. At the same time she placed a premium on personal privacy, respected it in others and insisted upon it for herself. Almost everyone at Manzanar had inherited this pair of traits from the generations before them who had learned to live in a small, crowded country like Japan. Because of the first they were able to take a desolate stretch of wasteland and gradually make it livable. But the entire situation there, especially in the beginning … was an open insult to that other, private self, a slap in the face you were powerless to challenge.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

My own family, after three years of mess hall living, collapsed as an integrated unit. Whatever dignity or feeling of filial strength we may have known before December 1941 was lost, and we did not recover it until many years after the war …

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

[Papa] didn’t die there, but things finished for him there, whereas for me it was like a birthplace. The camp was where our lifelines intersected.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Papa
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

But as badly as he wanted us to believe it, he never did finish law school. Who knows why? He was terribly proud, sometimes absurdly proud, and he refused to defer to any man. Maybe … he saw ahead of him prejudices he refused to swallow, humiliations he refused to bear.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

He was not a great man. He wasn’t even a very successful man. He was a poser, a braggart, and a tyrant. But he had held onto his self-respect, he dreamed grand dreams, and he could work well at any task he turned his hand to …

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

When your mother and your father are having a fight, do you want them to kill each other? Or do you just want them to stop fighting?

Related Characters: Papa (speaker)
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

There had always been doors to keep some moments private. Here there were no doors. Nothing was private. And tonight [Papa] was far too serious—he seemed to have reached some final limit.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa, Kiyo
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:

I was proud of Kiyo and afraid for what would happen to him; but deeper than that, I felt the miserable sense of loss that comes when the center has collapsed and everything seems to be flying apart around you.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa, Kiyo
Page Number: 64
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

For a man raised in Japan, there was no greater disgrace. And it was the humiliation. It brought him face to face with his own vulnerability, his own powerlessness. He had no rights, no home, no control over his own life.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Papa
Page Number: 65
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

It is a patriotic song that can also be read as a proverb, as a personal credo for endurance. The stone can be the kingdom or it can be a man’s life. The moss is the greenery that, in time, will spring even from a rock.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Papa
Related Symbols: Stones
Page Number: 81
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

Three years of wartime propaganda—racist headlines, atrocity movies, hate slogans, and fright-mask posters—had turned the Japanese face into something despicable and grotesque. Mama and Papa knew this. They had been reading the papers. Even I knew this, although it was not until many years later that I realized how bad things actually were.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:

The physical violence didn’t trouble me. Somehow I didn’t quite believe that, or didn’t want to believe such things could happen to us. It was the humiliation. That continuous, unnamed ache I had been living with was precise and definable now. Call it the foretaste of being hated … At ten I saw that coming, like a judge’s sentence, and I would have stayed inside the camp forever rather than step outside and face such a moment.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Related Symbols: Barbed Wire
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

One of the amazing things about America is the way it can both undermine you and keep you believing in your own possibilities, pumping you with hope.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Papa
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 20 Quotes

I couldn’t understand why [Papa] was home all day, when Mama had to go out working. I was ashamed of him for that and, in a deeper way, for being what had led to our imprisonment, that is, for being so unalterably Japanese. I would not bring my friends home for fear of what he would say or do.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 149
Explanation and Analysis:

He was unforgivably a foreigner then, foreign to them, foreign to me, foreign to everyone but Mama, who sat next to him smiling with pleased modesty. Twelve years old at the time, I wanted to scream. I wanted to slide out of sight under the table and dissolve.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Mama, Papa
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 22 Quotes

These rock gardens had outlived the barracks and the towers and would surely outlive the asphalt road and rusted pipes and shattered slabs of concrete. Each stone was a mouth, speaking for a family, for some man who had beautified his doorstep.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Papa
Related Symbols: Stones, Barbed Wire
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:
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Farewell to Manzanar PDF

Papa Character Timeline in Farewell to Manzanar

The timeline below shows where the character Papa appears in Farewell to Manzanar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: What is Pearl Harbor
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
...and sky are clean and blue, and there’s a lot of exciting yelling, especially in Papa’s boat—he likes to “give orders.” Jeanne’s oldest brothers, Bill and Woody, are Papa’s crew, and... (full context)
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Papa works hard as a fisherman, especially since he is still paying off a loan from... (full context)
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That night Papa burns his Japanese flag, which he brought when he emigrated from Hiroshima. He also burns... (full context)
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Two weeks later, Papa is arrested while the family is staying over at Woody’s house in Terminal Island. The... (full context)
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What Papa does have is his “tremendous dignity.” He’s tall and in good shape from his hard... (full context)
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For days, the family can’t get any news of Papa. They don’t even know what he’s been charged with, until one day an article appears... (full context)
Chapter 2: Shikata Ga Nai
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Over the years, the family has moved a lot due to Papa’s different jobs. Jeanne was born on a farm in Inglewood, but she grew up near... (full context)
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When Jeanne was little, Papa often threatened to “sell [her] to the Chinaman” if she behaved badly. This, coupled with... (full context)
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...together if such a thing does happen; they don’t want to be separated again, as Papa was. Mama has finally received a letter from him telling her that he’s been imprisoned... (full context)
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With Papa, the patriarch, gone, Jeanne’s brothers are anxious to take care of the family but not... (full context)
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...She’s happy about this and continues to sleep next to her mother every night until Papa returns. (full context)
Chapter 5: Almost a Family
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...beautiful wooden table large enough to seat everyone and served fresh fish and home-grown vegetables. Papa sat at the head of the table and served everyone according to age. (full context)
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...years to cultivate it again. Even after the camps close, the sense of estrangement continues; Papa has no money and can’t get work, so the family lives in a tiny housing... (full context)
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...middle-school journalism camps, describing a family tradition of night fishing at Ocean Park Beach. After Papa and her older brothers catch the fish, they run back to the house where Mama... (full context)
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Moreover, Mama is constantly worried about Papa. Letters arrive twice a month, in which half the writing is censored; for the first... (full context)
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...and many programs for internee children. Eventually, Jeanne herself wants to convert to Catholicism but Papa, by this time returned from Fort Lincoln, forbids her. The Wakatsukis are nominally Buddhist and... (full context)
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...the walk. After this, several months pass before she starts catechism again. Around this time, Papa returns from Fort Lincoln, and his arrival creates an enormous shift in family life. (full context)
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Papa arrives at Manzanar in a Greyhound bus. Everyone goes to meet him except Chizu, who... (full context)
Chapter 6: Whatever He Did Had Flourish
In fact, Papa has made his cane himself in Fort Lincoln. He continues to use it even after... (full context)
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Papa is born the oldest son in a samurai family. Once powerful and landed, by the... (full context)
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Papa arrives in Honolulu in 1904. Walking through town, he sees a “Workers Wanted” sign on... (full context)
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A few weeks later, Papa meets a lawyer from Idaho who offers to buy his passage to the states and... (full context)
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However, in the meantime Papa meets Mama. She was born in Hawaii, where her father was a fieldworker. Her parents... (full context)
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Mama meets Papa at a wholesale market where her parents are selling produce and Papa is unloading vegetables;... (full context)
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Mama attempts to run away with Papa, but her brothers eventually find her, take her home, and lock her in her bedroom.... (full context)
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Papa believes deeply in the importance of education and often brags that he attended law school,... (full context)
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Eventually, Papa settles the family in northern California where he raises fruit, but when the Depression strikes... (full context)
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Jeanne acknowledges that even without internment, Papa could have lost his business or wrecked a boat—being a fisherman is hardly without risk.... (full context)
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For Jeanne, the prewar years are represented by Papa and Mama’s silver anniversary celebration in 1940: Papa wore a new suit and Mama an... (full context)
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At Fort Lincoln, Papa worked as an interviewer, helping the Justice Department interview other men who couldn’t speak English.... (full context)
Chapter 7: Fort Lincoln: An Interview
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Jeanne takes on Papa’s perspective, imagining his intake interview at Fort Lincoln. Papa tells the officer his name and... (full context)
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Papa laughs off the accusations that he’s delivered oil to Japanese submarines. The large drums he... (full context)
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The officer asks Papa what he thinks about the Pearl Harbor bombing, and Papa says that he feels “sad... (full context)
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The officer asks Papa if Japan is still his country, and if he is loyal to the Emperor. In... (full context)
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The officer resumes his questions about Papa’s loyalty to Japan. Papa sighs and poses the question, “When your mother and your father... (full context)
Chapter 8: Inu
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Now that Papa has returned, the family’s shack is almost overflowing—not so much due to lack of space... (full context)
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Jeanne, who has just turned eight, explains Papa’s behavior by concluding that Papa thinks he is better than other people, and that the... (full context)
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...internment process or cooperating with camp authorities. The women in the latrine probably resented that Papa was released from Fort Lincoln earlier than most of his companions. This additional stigma adds... (full context)
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When Mama tells a drunken Papa what the women in the latrine had been saying, he starts yelling at her, accusing... (full context)
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Papa threatens to kill Mama, and she tells him to “go ahead, if that will make... (full context)
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...been hiding in his own bunk, jumps onto the floor in his underwear and punches Papa in the face. Papa’s nose starts bleeding, and Kiyo steps back in horror; Jeanne feels... (full context)
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...few weeks living with one of their married sisters; when he returns home he begs Papa’s forgiveness, wanting “some order preserved in the world and in the family.” Papa accepts the... (full context)
Chapter 9: The Mess Hall Bells
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Papa never speaks about his time in Fort Lincoln, and Jeanne believes that his silence is... (full context)
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Papa does not participate in the riot and makes the children stay inside for its duration,... (full context)
Chapter 11: Yes Yes No No
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...Jeanne, the holiday season is dispiriting—there are no good presents, the weather is terrible, and Papa is completely drunk. (full context)
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...This becomes an even more “divisive” problem than the riot, because everyone is involved. Even Papa leaves his isolation to participate in the debate. (full context)
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...and going from the barracks, and when Mama and Granny try to stop their arguing Papa shouts at them. (full context)
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Papa also argues with Woody about the oath, telling his son that if he goes to... (full context)
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Even though Papa rails against the oath, he knows he will sign “Yes Yes”—in other words, answer yes... (full context)
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A block meeting is scheduled to discuss the oath and Papa decides to attend, even though he knows people will gossip about him as an “inu.”... (full context)
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...in the windy yard. Walking home, hears men yelling inside the mess hall and recognizes Papa’s voice calling the other men “trash” in Japanese. Suddenly, the door opens, and a man... (full context)
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As Jeanne later finds out, when Papa speaks during the meeting people begin murmuring and calling him an “inu.” The man Papa... (full context)
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A minute later, a sandstorm hits. The men drag Papa into the barracks and Jeanne follows him. He sits silently inside while Mama pours him... (full context)
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Later, Jeanne learns that Papa had grown up singing the national anthem every morning at school. Unlike other countries’ anthems,... (full context)
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Outside the house where Papa grew up in Japan stood a large stone lantern. Every morning, someone poured a bucket... (full context)
Chapter 12: Manzanar, U.S.A.
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...1943 the Wakatsukis move to Block 28, which abuts one of the old pear orchards. Papa cares for the trees and the family harvests the fruit and stores it in a... (full context)
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Papa continues to brew moonshine, but he’s drinking less and spending more time outside. He doesn’t... (full context)
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Papa also paints with watercolors, usually portraying the mountains in the distance. Mount Whitney is visible... (full context)
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Woody has capitulated to Papa and agreed not to volunteers but to wait until the army drafts him; in the... (full context)
Chapter 13: Outings, Explorations
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...days later, Jeanne announces to her parents that she’s going to be baptized and confirmed. Papa is immediately outraged, shouting that she’s too young and that if she converts to Catholicism... (full context)
Chapter 14: In the Firebreak
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In retrospect, Jeanne is thankful that Papa prevented her from making such a serious religious decision at the age of ten. She... (full context)
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...to receive blood from Woody during labor, while her sister-in-law actually died from post-partum hemorrhaging. Papa and Mama have been taking turns sitting with Eleanor throughout her long labor. (full context)
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On the second afternoon, Jeanne is walking through a firebreak to the hospital with Papa when they see Mama running toward them and shouting. Papa is clearly terrified that Eleanor... (full context)
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Papa puts an arm around Mama. He’s wearing a turtleneck she knit for him during his... (full context)
Chapter 15: Departures
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In the next months, Mama and Papa grow closer together. Meanwhile, the camp population is dwindling. Some people have managed to relocate... (full context)
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...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.... (full context)
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...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,... (full context)
Chapter 16: Free to Go
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...to return to, since their property is surely occupied by others now. Moreover, Mama and Papa—and to a limited extent, Jeanne—know that throughout the war American society has been permeated by... (full context)
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...husbands, soon join. The family tell each other that once they have settled, Mama and Papa and the younger children will join, but everyone knows that Papa is too old and... (full context)
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In fact, now that Papa is free to leave Manzanar he has no idea where to go. Jeanne compares his... (full context)
Chapter 17: It’s All Starting Over
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Passively, Papa decides to wait until he’s scheduled to leave. He doesn’t even have a definite job... (full context)
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Throughout the scorching August, Papa sits in the shade and reads the newspapers aloud, telling the family about Japan’s final... (full context)
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...release some of the tension. Since Jeanne isn’t strong enough to rub out the knots, Papa takes over, firmly digging his thumbs into Mama’s back. Papa says that Mama should see... (full context)
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Papa reassures Mama, telling her that the block leaders have decided to send a petition to... (full context)
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...to see the end of the war, but any celebrations are dampened by the atomic bombing—Papa is worried about his remaining family in Japan, especially since his own children are now... (full context)
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While Papa reads the papers and looks at the mountains, other families leave the camp every day.... (full context)
Chapter 18: Ka-ke, Near Hiroshima: April 1946
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...who is stationed in Japan with occupying American troops. One day, he goes to visit Papa’s family in the town of Ka-Ke. His elderly aunt Toyo shows him a family grave... (full context)
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Toyo also shows Woody a stone marker where Papa is “buried”; Woody is initially confused, but Toyo says the stone was placed to remember... (full context)
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...matter if he’s an American soldier or what gifts he brings—it’s enough that he is Papa’s son. (full context)
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...insists that he take her own silk quilt. As Woody lies down, he thinks that Papa will be happy that his family has survived and proud of the reception they’ve given... (full context)
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...dozes off but wakes suddenly and notices Toyo watching him and silently crying. She was Papa’s favorite aunt, who loaned him the money he needed to get to America, and now... (full context)
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...with such grace from centuries in the same surroundings. Woody rubs his cheeks and imagines Papa’s face, thinking about how Papa’s bearing and dignity are reminiscent of Toyo. He wishes he... (full context)
Chapter 19: Re-Entry
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A few days before the Wakatsukis’ scheduled departure from Manzanar, Papa decides he wants to leave “in style.” Suddenly coming out of his “lethargy,” he walks... (full context)
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Jeanne and Mama go in the first trip; Papa is driving frantically and becomes outraged every time the car breaks down, but every time... (full context)
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Papa has been drinking throughout the trip, but he sobers up as the family approaches Los... (full context)
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...been “robbed” and there’s not trace of her furniture or valuable wedding gifts. The car Papa bought before Pearl Harbor has been repossessed, and there’s no trace of his boats. Economically... (full context)
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Papa never quite recovers from this blow, but he doesn’t give up either. For Jeanne, this... (full context)
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...at a cannery, knowing that she’s going to be the only breadwinner for a while; Papa would never accept a menial job of this sort, for him to do so would... (full context)
Chapter 20: A Double Impulse
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Jeanne’s brothers are proud of her new role in the parades, but Papa is not; he wants her to cultivate a more traditionally Japanese feminine demeanor and is... (full context)
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...the family eats in shifts and Mama is rarely home. Moreover, she’s lost respect for Papa—he’s never able to gain support for his housing cooperative idea, and a later scheme he... (full context)
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Woody has returned from Japan confident and mustached, bringing valuable gifts from Aunt Toyo. Papa is proud to see how much Woody has grown, but it also seems like he’s... (full context)
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Papa refuses to come to the parades when Jeanne marches, but she’s even more upset when... (full context)
Chapter  21: The Girl of My Dreams
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...boy did ask her out, he would have to come to Cabrillo Homes and face Papa, who would shout and embarrass her. (full context)
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...class and hanging out in the streets. She might have dropped out altogether, but eventually Papa decides to start farming again and moves the family away from Cabrillo Homes. Recently, he’d... (full context)
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That night, Jeanne has to admit to Papa that she has won the carnival queen contest. When she tells him about the outfit... (full context)
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Furiously, Papa demands that Jeanne sign up for Japanese deportment classes at a nearby Buddhist church. He... (full context)
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Papa never mentions the carnival queen contest again, but Jeanne can sense he’s reluctantly proud of... (full context)
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...dress. The throne seems so far away, and her dress seems ridiculous. She wonders if Papa was right about the whole thing; after all, the teachers didn’t even want her to... (full context)
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...years old. She feels that it’s “too late,” both to be a traditional dancer as Papa wants or to be a true carnival queen. She wants the ceremony over so that... (full context)
Chapter 22: Ten Thousand Voices
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...husband, identifying the foundations of different buildings. In some places, rock arrangements are still intact. Papa once told Jeanne that even in Fort Lincoln the Issei men gathered stones and sorted... (full context)
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...remembers the glee club in which she sang and feels like a ten-year-old again, watching Papa and his friends smoking and playing board games. (full context)
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...has “referred back” to Manzanar. Until now, Jeanne hasn’t been able to acknowledge that while “Papa’s life ended” at camp, hers began there. She no longer wants to lose Manzanar or... (full context)
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...door, or it might not. She hears Mama’s voice and almost smells the cork that Papa used to heat up and place against her back when it hurt. (full context)
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...imagines an episode right before the family’s departure from Manzanar, which she now realizes is Papa’s “final outburst of defiance.” Mama is packing when Papa announces his intention to buy a... (full context)
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Late in the afternoon, Mama, Jeanne, Chizu, and May see Papa proudly returning with the new sedan. He smells like whiskey; laughing exuberantly and revving the... (full context)
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Papa pulls off the street and drives along some deserted barracks, eventually plunging through a firebreak.... (full context)
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When he reaches the barbed wire fence, Papa turns sharply and drives back towards the bus stop, where he honks the horn and... (full context)