The next morning, Ichiro takes the bus down to the Christian Rehabilitation Center. He walks from the gated entrance through piles of garbage and discarded furniture, where workers are picking through for salvageable objects. Ichiro wonders if the attendants, like the junk they work with, “would ever see good days again.”
The Rehabilitation Center is a charitable organization that employs people who would otherwise have trouble finding work: primarily people with disabilities, or addictions. Although Ichiro is healthy and able-bodied, his status as a no-no boy makes him believe he is essentially unemployable.
Ichiro makes his way to the Administrative Offices, where Mr. Morrison, the manager, invites him in for an interview. Mr. Morrison speaks a little Japanese, and reveals that he spent fifteen months in Japan before the war.
Mr. Morrison, like Mr. Carrick before him, not only does not discriminate against Ichiro, but does his best to make him feel comfortable by displaying his familiarity with the Japanese language.
Ichiro explains that he found out about the job through Gary. He tells Mr. Morrison that he and Gary have the same “problem.” Mr. Morrison asks Ichiro why he refused to comply with the draft. Ichiro doesn’t fully understand himself, explaining that it was a mixture of things—“the evacuation, the camp, my parents…”—but that he regrets it now.
Mr. Morrison refers to Gary’s rejection of the draft as a “problem,” and although Ichiro increasingly believes that he can have a happy future despite this black mark, he refers to it is a “problem” in his past as well. Although he’s spent the weeks since his release (and the years in prison) considering why he made the decision he did, the more he thinks about it the more Ichiro understands that there was no single factor that led to him rejecting the draft. Instead, it was a combination of who he is, his family, and the U.S. government and citizens’ treatment of him.
Mr. Morrison explains that he likes his job, helping people who need it. But being confronted with helping Gary and Ichiro, who are able-bodied, young, and educated makes him feel “useless,” because he cannot fix what is wrong. Still, Mr. Morrison is happy to offer Ichiro a job for $35 a week. Ichiro thinks back to Mr. Carrick’s offer of $260 a month, and says he will consider it.
Like Mr. Carrick, Mr. Morrison is moved to help the Japanese men who come to him. Unlike Mr. Carrick, who believed he could genuinely give Ichiro a better, more financially stable future, Mr. Morrison is skeptical that he is helping Gary, Ichiro, and others like them at all, realizing that their problem is as much internalized shame as it is external prejudice.
Ichiro finds Gary on his way out. Gary is working on painting letters onto the side of a van, but takes a break and speaks with Ichiro. Gary’s life has been relatively easy for him since he got out. He has always been a painter, but he feels that he “died in prison,” and was reborn caring only about painting. What ruined Ichiro’s life saved and rejuvenated his own. Now, he feels happy and fulfilled. He paints for pay during the day, and for himself at night.
Gary is the novel’s first well-adjusted no-no boy. Freddie feels that his life has been ruined by his imprisonment, and continues to actively ruin it. Ichiro is doing his best to secure a future for himself, but is still consumed by shame and embarrassment. Gary, however, feels like his life has been actively improved by his rejection of the draft. He thus provides inspiration for Ichiro, and proof that his past decision doesn’t mean he has no future prospects.
His break over, Gary gets up to paint again. He tells Ichiro that he thinks they would work together well. Ichiro has decided to pass on the job opportunity, but thanks his friend. Before he leaves, he asks Gary about what happened at the foundry.
Although Ichiro is unsure what other job prospects are available to him, he is becoming increasingly confident that he can find meaningful or interesting work despite his past.
Gary explains that the job was good, and paid well, and he even made a friend, a black man named Birdie. However, when the Japanese veterans and white workers in the shop found out he was a no-no boy, they began to ignore and exclude him. Gary didn’t mind this, but Birdie would often defend him, although he asked his friend not to. Gary wasn’t concerned for his own safety, and was worried that if he found a new job he would face similar harassment. However, the men at work eventually went after Birdie, loosening the wheel on his car, which led to a devastating car accident. Although Birdie was unhurt, Gary knew he had to leave.
Gary faced discrimination from other Japanese people because they saw him as undermining their status as Americans. Birdie, also an outsider because of the anti-black racism he likely faced in his daily life, felt solidarity with Gary, which is likely why he tried to defend him. This is one of the novel’s few instances of intersectionality (empathy for people who have a similar, if not identical struggle that is connected to one’s own by complex systems of power and oppression).
Gary explains that he thinks this is a difficult, emotional time for people of Japanese ancestry in America. However, he believes that eventually the Japanese people who have treated him so poorly will in turn be discriminated against by white Americans, and then, maybe, they’ll forgot to discriminate against others who are also Japanese. Now, these Japanese veterans are doing their best to prove they are real Americans, and no-no boys like Gary and Ichiro seem to be undermining their claim.
Gary recognizes that as no-no boys, he and Ichiro complicate the claim many Japanese veterans have made that they, and other people with Japanese ancestry, can be fully committed to America. Because these veterans recognize mainstream dislike of no-no boys could easily be extrapolated to a dislike of all Japanese-Americans, these veterans seek to prove their American-ness by discriminating against the no-no boys as well. However, Ichiro predicts that soon all Japanese-Americans will experience the same kind of prejudice again, and will be brought together by this marginalization.
Ichiro says goodbye to Gary and leaves the Christian Rehabilitation Center. He takes a bus back into town. He thinks back to a church in Idaho that he visited with his friend Tommy, a Japanese man in the same internment camp. The two were rejected from one church by a white man who told them “One Jap is too many…don’t come back.” They found another, more accepting church a few weeks later.
This memory from Ichiro’s past reminds the reader that the discrimination he has been facing in recent weeks is in no way a recent development. It also illustrates the hypocrisy of so many Americans. Even those who practice religions ostensibly based on love and acceptance can easily practice hatred and bigotry.
Ichiro liked this new church, until one Sunday he noticed an old black man standing in the back, who was ignored by the primarily white congregation, and then denied seating. After this, Ichiro refused to return to the church, although Tommy argued that because “they like us” and “treat us fine,” he and Ichiro should put their heads down and be grateful for their inclusion.
Unlike Tommy, who was happy to turn a blind eye to prejudice that did not directly affect him, Ichiro recognized that the treatment of this black man was similar to his and Tommy’s own rejection at the first church. Understanding how much this prejudice hurts, Ichiro was unwilling to sit by and condone it with silence.
Ichiro thinks that the world is like a “shiny apple with streaks of rotten brown in it.” He sees that he is still young, and wiser than he used to be. He can see that “After rain, the sunshine” might appear. Although it will not be easy for him to start his new life, it can be done.
Increasingly, Ichiro is recognizing that there is potential in his future for personal and professional happiness. Although the world and America are not as perfect as he had once believed, neither are they as evil as he had recently suspected.