Farewell to Manzanar

by

Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston

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Stones Symbol Icon

Both in Japanese culture and within the context of Manzanar life, stones symbolize endurance. After fighting publicly with an internee over his decision to sign the Loyalty Oath, Papa returns to the barracks and quietly sings the Japanese national anthem, crying as he does so. The anthem compares the country to a “tiny stone” that grows into a “massive rock” covered in moss. Singing the anthem, Papa communicates his own resolve to stand firm, like the stone, rather than succumbing to the pressures posed by internment. Later, as life in Manzanar becomes more settled, groups of internees create public parks adorned with beautiful rock gardens, and Papa collects stones on his walk and creates a rock garden outside his family’s barracks. Through the stones, the internees make Manzanar a livable place and create moments of beauty in an experience of degradation and shame, helping them endure internment.

Stones also show the melding of Japanese and American identities. Papa sings the national anthem after he defends his decision to declare loyalty to the U.S.—he turns to a symbol of Japanese patriotism to give himself strength as he commits himself to his adopted country. Moreover, rock gardens are so popular at Manzanar because they are a common feature of Japanese houses. As Manzanar develops, Jeanne says that the rock gardens give an “Asian character” to what is otherwise “a totally equipped American small town.” The U.S. government wants Japanese-Americans to renounce their heritage through tests like the Loyalty Oath; but it’s by preserving their culture that internees are able to endure and thrive, both within Manzanar and later as free American citizens.

Stones Quotes in Farewell to Manzanar

The Farewell to Manzanar quotes below all refer to the symbol of Stones. 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 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 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:
Get the entire Farewell to Manzanar LitChart as a printable PDF.
Farewell to Manzanar PDF

Stones Symbol Timeline in Farewell to Manzanar

The timeline below shows where the symbol Stones appears in Farewell to Manzanar. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11: Yes Yes No No
Belonging in America Theme Icon
...but actually an ancient poem which expresses hope that Japan will endure “until this tiny stone will grow into a massive rock” covered in moss. The endurance it describes is both... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Outside the house where Papa grew up in Japan stood a large stone lantern. Every morning, someone poured a bucket of water over the lantern, so that over... (full context)
Chapter 12: Manzanar, U.S.A.
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...outside the barbed wire fence—after the authorities have given permission. His favorite pastime is collecting stones and building a rock garden outside the doorway. (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
...to make the best of internment. Gradually, internees are making the camp livable. They create rock and vegetable gardens that are visible even from outside the fence and provide fresh vegetables... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Manzanar becomes a town with both Asian and American elements. The parks and rock gardens are reminiscent of Japan, but there are also “churches, Boy Scouts, beauty parlors […]... (full context)
Chapter 18: Ka-ke, Near Hiroshima: April 1946
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 stone was... (full context)
Shame and Pride  Theme Icon
...fact, while the family compound has been spared bombing and is decorated with a beautiful rock garden, after years of war they have almost no possessions. (full context)
Chapter 22: Ten Thousand Voices
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
...through the camp with her 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... (full context)
Belonging in America Theme Icon
Jeanne slowly walks back to the car, finding another collection of stones on the way. It could be the one that lay outside her own door, or... (full context)