Farewell to Manzanar

by

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Farewell to Manzanar can help.

Woody Character Analysis

Jeanne’s oldest brother. After Papa is arrested and taken to Fort Lincoln, Woody becomes the informal head of the family. Having inherited Papa’s resourcefulness and personal flair, he takes to this role well. He’s able to comfort Mama and cheer up his younger siblings, making the drudgery of life at Manzanar seem exciting, and he can come up with a plan to solve any difficulty. For Jeanne, Woody is a beacon of tranquility and hope in the midst of a bewildering experience. Once Papa returns Woody expects to relinquish this role, but as Papa has succumbed to alcoholism and despair, Woody unhappily continues to be in charge of the family. His role comes to represent both the family’s determination to stick together and the impossibility of preserving traditional family structures throughout internment.
Get the entire Farewell to Manzanar LitChart as a printable PDF.
Farewell to Manzanar PDF

Woody Character Timeline in Farewell to Manzanar

The timeline below shows where the character Woody 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
...exciting yelling, especially in Papa’s boat—he likes to “give orders.” Jeanne’s oldest brothers, Bill and Woody, are Papa’s crew, and when everything is ready they sail away from the wharf. Papa... (full context)
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...always set sail together and share their nets. Standing at the harbor, Mama, Billy and Woody’s wives, and Jeanne wave goodbye. They don’t know exactly when the men will return, as... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...time they stop when they’re still in sight and soon start returning to shore. Chizu, Woody’s wife, wonders aloud what’s wrong. While the boats are still sailing in, a cannery worker... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Two weeks later, Papa is arrested while the family is staying over at Woody’s house in Terminal Island. The FBI has been questioning all the Japanese families in the... (full context)
Chapter 2: Shikata Ga Nai
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...Island: pottery, treasured tableware, and kimonos that Granny brought from Japan. When they pack up Woody’s car to leave, Mama’s beautiful china just won’t fit, and she reluctantly decides to sell... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Mama and Woody go to work packing celery, while Jeanne and her siblings Kiyo and May go to... (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...units, furnished with army cots, even though there are twelve members of the family, including Woody’s baby daughter. They try to partition the units with blankets in order to maintain some... (full context)
Chapter 3: A Different Kind of Sand
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Before Mama gets overwhelmed by the dismal shack, Woody arrives with a hammer and a box of tin can lids he’s found. As the... (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Woody assures Mama that he will make things better. Suddenly, his baby daughter starts to cry.... (full context)
Chapter 4: A Common Master Plan
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...get breakfast. They bring it back to the unit and eat huddled around the stove. Woody is hard at work fixing up the shack, but there are almost no materials to... (full context)
Chapter 6: Whatever He Did Had Flourish
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
...a restaurant and she finds a job as a dietician. Mama soon gives birth to Woody and has a child about every two years, all while moving around for Papa’s various... (full context)
Chapter 11: Yes Yes No No
Growing Up Theme Icon
Papa also argues with Woody about the oath, telling his son that if he goes to war he must believe... (full context)
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...However, he wants to prevent people from bullying the whole block into signing “No No.” Woody wants to accompany him, but Papa insists the meeting is only for heads of households.... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
...barracks and Jeanne follows him. He sits silently inside while Mama pours him tea, and Woody and Chizu arrive to discuss the day’s events. A friend of Chizu’s also visits, and... (full context)
Chapter 12: Manzanar, U.S.A.
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...a recently-vacated apartment. In Block 28, the Wakatsukis have twice as much space; Ray and Woody cover the walls with sheetrock and install linoleum on the floors. There are three colors... (full context)
Growing Up Theme Icon
Woody has capitulated to Papa and agreed not to volunteers but to wait until the army... (full context)
Chapter 14: In the Firebreak
Growing Up Theme Icon
...used to receiving a lot of attention from her parents, but now she turns to Woody and Chizu more often. When her oldest sister Eleanor gives birth, Jeanne experiences the first... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...has very little blood plasma, and one of Jeanne’s sisters had to receive blood from Woody during labor, while her sister-in-law actually died from post-partum hemorrhaging. Papa and Mama have been... (full context)
Chapter 15: Departures
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
As Jeanne watches Woody depart, she stands between Mama and Chizu; because of this, she remembers the day three... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
In some ways, Woody’s departure is a typical wartime moment— “full of proud smiles and half-concealed worry.” However, it’s... (full context)
Chapter 18: Ka-ke, Near Hiroshima: April 1946
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Jeanne takes on the perspective of her brother, Woody, who is stationed in Japan with occupying American troops. One day, he goes to visit... (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Toyo also shows Woody a stone marker where Papa is “buried”; Woody is initially confused, but Toyo says the... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Woody has been afraid to visit his family; it’s hard enough to be a Nisei among... (full context)
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...away quickly, in accordance with the Japanese tradition of not showing impolite interest in gifts. Woody senses that they’re embarrassed to be in dire need of such basic supplies. In fact,... (full context)
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...cook prepares a delicious if small meal which is accompanied by tea. Afterwards, Toyo shows Woody to a guest room and insists that he take her own silk quilt. As Woody... (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Woody dozes off but wakes suddenly and notices Toyo watching him and silently crying. She was... (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Woody is struck by how graceful Toyo is even while sliding the screen shut—she’s accustomed to... (full context)
Chapter 20: A Double Impulse
Growing Up Theme Icon
However, another part of Jeanne wants to “prove” that she belongs in America, just as Woody proved his patriotism by joining the army. For the rest of her schooldays, these two... (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...able to gain support for his housing cooperative idea, and a later scheme he and Woody develop for harvesting abalone also fails. (full context)
Internment and Family Life Theme Icon
Woody has returned from Japan confident and mustached, bringing valuable gifts from Aunt Toyo. Papa is... (full context)