In the morning Ichiro wakes up, feeling as though he is still in prison. Although he his now technically free, he believes “the prison which he had carved out of his own stupidity granted no paroles or pardons. It was a prison of forever.”
Ichiro believes that he has ruined his entire future. Although his prison sentence was only two years long, he carries with him the guilt and shame of his incarceration.
At breakfast, Mrs. Yamada tries to tell Ichiro that Bob Kumasaka died because of his mother—because “she did not conduct herself as a Japanese and, no longer being Japanese,” he is dead. She explains that because she and Mr. Yamada remain Japanese, they are alive, and so is Ichiro. However, if Ichiro were to enlist, or even consider enlisting, he would kill his parents.
Mrs. Yamada’s Japanese identity and loyalty to Japan are so important to her that the idea that her son could love America would kill her. Mrs. Yamada has no empathy for the Kumasaka family, believing that Bob made the objectively wrong decision, and paid the price for his choice, all because his parents raised him incorrectly.
Ichiro tells Mrs. Yamada that she’s crazy. She brushes off his insult. She’s been called crazy before by “they who claim to be Japanese,” but she believes she is strong and not crazy. Ichiro snaps and yells at her. He insists that what she’s passed along to him is “not your strength, but your madness.”
Mrs. Yamada believes that only people like her are truly Japanese, and anyone who disagrees with her only “claims” to be Japanese. Because she choses to disregard the opinions of so many people, she is able to maintain her worldview unchallenged.
Ichiro gets up to leave, and Mr. Yamada tries to stop him. Ichiro punches him in response. Mrs. Yamada slumps to the floor in shock. Ichiro stands for a moment, calming down. He apologizes to his father, who offers him some of the whisky he’s been drinking. Ichiro decides to leave and go find an old friend, Freddie Akimoto.
Ichiro is overwhelmed by his family. His mother’s insistence that Japan won the war and that anyone who fought for the U.S. is not truly Japanese is hard for him to deal with. Although he was raised to respect his family, his own guilt combined with their conspiracies is too much to bear.
Ichiro takes the bus to Freddie’s apartment. He knocks on the door but a woman (“2-A”) opens the apartment next door and tells him that Freddie sleeps late. Ichiro knocks harder until his friend wakes up. Freddie has been out of prison for five weeks. He tells Ichiro that they made a mistake going to prison, and he’s been trying to make up for the two years he lost. Ichiro presses Freddie, wondering what life has really been like. Freddie admits it’s been hard.
Freddie and Ichiro made similar choices, both rejecting the draft and going to prison. Because Freddie has been out for a few more weeks than Ichiro, Ichiro looks to him to see what his life could be like. Freddie does not provide a particularly encouraging blueprint, however, as he has had difficulty readjusting to life and dealing with residual guilt and shame.
Freddie says he’s been having sex with the woman in apartment 2-A, but most mostly he’s been sitting at home alone. His old friends either greet him quickly and rush off, or pretend not to know him. Ichiro tells Freddie how Eto spit on him, but feels he deserved it. Freddie tells Ichiro, “Nobody’s got a right to spit on you.”
Ichiro believes that he deserves prejudicial treatment. He thinks that because he made a mistake in rejecting the draft, he deserves to be punished. In contrast, Freddie believes their imprisonment was punishment enough, and that other people do not have the right to treat them like second-class citizens.
Ichiro decides to leave. Freddie invites him to play poker with him and other no-no boys. Ichiro explains that he needs a little time to “straighten out.” Freddie counters that after two years in prison, he’s had all the time he needs.
Ichiro is discouraged by Freddie’s life. He does not want a future in which he can only hang out with other similarly marginalized no-no boys.