Farewell to Manzanar

by

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

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Farewell to Manzanar Quotes

Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Houghton Mifflin edition of Farewell to Manzanar published in 1973.
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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 12 Quotes

The fact that America had accused us, or excluded us, or imprisoned us, or whatever it might be called, did not change the kind of world we wanted. Most of us were born in this country; we had no other models. Those parks and gardens lent it an Asian character, but in most ways it was a totally equipped American small town …

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker)
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

By that time I was desperate to be “accepted,” and baton twirling was one trick I could perform that was thoroughly, unmistakably American—putting on the boots and a dress crisscrossed with braid, spinning the silver stick and tossing it high to the tune of a John Philip Sousa march.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker)
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

It was all a mystery … and this woman was so old, even her dialect was foreign to me. She seemed an occult figure, more spirit than human. When she bowed to me from her knees at the end of the hour, I rushed out of there, back to more familiar surroundings.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker)
Page Number: 98
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 smiled and sat down, suddenly aware of what being of Japanese ancestry was going to be like. I wouldn’t be faced with physical attack, or with overt shows of hatred. Rather, I would be seen as someone foreign, or as someone other than American, or perhaps not be seen at all.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker), Radine
Page Number: 142
Explanation and Analysis:

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 21 Quotes

To this day I have a recurring dream, which fills me each time with a terrible sense of loss and desolation. I see a young, beautifully blond and blue-eyed high school girl moving through a room full of others her own age, much admired by everyone, men and women both, myself included, as I watch through a window.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker)
Page Number: 154
Explanation and Analysis:

I wanted the carnival to end so I could go somewhere private, climb out of my stuffy dress, and cool off. But all eyes were on me. It was too late now not to follow this make-believe carpet to its plywood finale, and I did not yet know of any truer destination.

Related Characters: Jeanne (speaker)
Page Number: 164
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:
No matches.