No-No Boy

No-No Boy Chapter 11 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Ichiro is lying in bed when he gets a phone call from Freddie. Freddie says he wants to go out and do something fun. Ichiro is hesitant, but Freddie convinces him to “get out and live” a little. Mr. Yamada insists that Ichiro take a little spending money. They discuss the future briefly, and Ichiro proposes returning to school and helping his father out at the store.
At the novel’s opening, Ichiro was uninterested in returning to school and uninterested in staying in Seattle, partially because he believed that his rejection of the draft precluded him from resuming his life. Now, however, Ichiro has realized that his relationship with his father and his future are both salvageable after all.
Themes
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Mr. Yamada tells Ichiro that Mrs. Yamada would have liked Ichiro returning to school and working with his father, and Ichiro feels a twinge of resentment. But he catches himself—now that she is dead, he doesn’t have to “fight her or hate her any more.”
Ichiro has begun to work through his fraught relationship with his mother. He understands just because she would have wanted something doesn’t mean that it is antithetical to his own happiness.
Themes
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Ichiro meets Freddie in a shoeshine parlor. Freddie tries to get the man shining his shoes, Rabbit, to set him up with a prostitute, but Rabbit says none are available tonight. Freddie then takes Ichiro to a pool hall, where the two men are denied a table at the front of the establishment, and are forced to play in back. Freddie seems to concede, but after they’ve begun playing he breaks the pool cue, and then begins throwing pool balls at the proprietor as he chases the two men out onto the street. 
Freddie is living recklessly. Unlike Gary, who was introduced in the previous chapter and has found his life set on a happy track since his release from prison, Freddie has gone off the rails. As Ichiro observed in Chapter 9, Freddie must live a dangerous, fast-paced life to keep himself from thinking about his despair and the hopelessness of his situation.
Themes
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Ichiro pities Freddie, who he sees has been unable to reintegrate into society. Ichiro, meanwhile, feels like he might be able to have a happy future, thanks to the help of Emi, Mr. Carrick, Kenji, and even his parents, Mr. Yamada and Mrs. Yamada. Ichiro asks his friend if anything is wrong, but Freddie claims he is “just livin’.”
Ichiro could have ended up like Freddie, but luckily met a series of people who inspired him, supported him, and showed him that he had not ruined his life and there was still a future left to live for. Freddie, meanwhile, is lonely and estranged from his family, with few friends to support, encourage, or stabilize him.
Themes
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
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Ichiro is not having fun with Freddie, but he doesn’t want to leave him alone. He suggests going back home to have a drink, but Freddie shoots down the idea. Freddie wants to go to the Club Oriental, even though that is where he got in a fight with Eto just a few days before. Freddie argues that he should be allowed to go wherever he wants, and drives Ichiro to the bar.
Freddie continues to live life on the edge. Although he knows Club Oriental is unsafe for him, he perhaps hopes to get into a fight, as that would provide variety and stimulation in his otherwise empty life, and indulge his self-destructive tendencies even further.
Themes
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Freddie parks illegally, disregarding Ichiro’s warning that he’ll get a ticket. They go inside and get drinks. Ichiro toasts to Kenji, but before they can clink glasses Bull appears from a corner of the bar and attacks Freddie. The bar’s owner, Jim Eng, insists they go outside to fight, and Bull drags Freddie out into the street.
Although Bull is also Japanese, he hates Freddie because, as a no-no boy, Freddie seems to undermine Bull’s claim to an American identity. Freddie knew the risks of going to Club Oriental, and likely went because he suspected his presence would lead to some excitement. Alternately, perhaps Freddie knows he is in danger, but is so unhappy with his life that he doesn’t mind putting it at risk.
Themes
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Although Ichiro does not want to fight, he feels obligated to defend his friend. He follows Bull and Freddie into the alley, where he grabs onto Bull’s arm and tells him that he and Freddie will leave he if he will just let them go. Bull tells Ichiro he didn’t fight the war for people like him and Freddie.
Although the fight is not his, Ichiro remains loyal to his friend. Bull’s comment clarifies that some of his resentment towards Ichiro and Freddie comes from a sense that he fought for a certain idea of America—one that didn’t include men like Ichiro and Freddie.
Themes
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Freddie attacks Bull. Ichiro tries to intervene and get Bull to stop fighting, but he won’t, so Ichiro punches Bull in the face, breaking his nose. A crowd has come outside and pulled the men apart. Ichiro is happy it is over, but Freddie remains combative, kicking Bull in the stomach before running to his car. Bull chases after him, and Freddie hits him in the head with a wrench before driving off.
Freddie is burning bridges left and right. He fights as though he has nothing to live for, no real future to protect. Bull, meanwhile, feels personally offended by Freddie’s rejection of the draft, and wants to demonstrate this offense through violence.
Themes
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
A moment later, there is the sound of a crash—Freddie clipped the front of another car, which sent his into the air, flipping over and colliding against a wall, killing him instantly.
Freddie’s death is almost inevitable—he has been living his life as though he has no future, and now he cannot have one.
Themes
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
 Ichiro stands for a moment. He feels “utterly exhausted,” but knows that Freddie “would have to fight no longer.” Bull asks for a drink, and Ichiro gets a bottle from inside. Ichiro tells Bull that Freddie has died. Bull says he hopes Freddie goes to hell. But then his hardened exterior begins to break down, and Bull starts to cry, overcome by loneliness. Ichiro comforts him before walking towards the car crash.
Ichiro sees that Freddie believed he had no future, and by ending his life will no longer experience the shame or anxiety that came from his status as a no-no boy. However, although Ichiro carries with him the same shame, he has the support system in place and the desire to live that will allow him to work towards building a future for himself.
Themes
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Ichiro thinks about Kenji, Freddie, Mr. Carrick, Emi, and Birdie. In the crowd drawn out of the nightclub by the car crash Ichiro sees “a tiny bit of America,” and feels “a glimmer of hope.”
Ichiro began the novel feeling alone and helpless, but he has realized that there are people out there who care about him, and many strangers who will be willing to help him move forward. America is fragmented, but he also sees that people can be brought together, and the hope for a diverse, racially-inclusive future is not gone.
Themes
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
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