No-No Boy

Mr. Kanno Character Analysis

The father of Kenji, Hanako, Toyo, Tom, and Hisa. Like the Yamadas, he first came to America from Japan in order to get rich and then return home. Unlike the Yamadas, however, Mr. Kanno accepted that his Nisei children grew up more American than Japanese. Though he still considers himself Japanese, he has come to think of America as his home now because it is his children's home, and his love for them is more important to him than national loyalty. Mr. Kanno was confused by Kenji's decision to volunteer to fight for America—the country that put him in an internment camp—but accepts his son's decision. In general, he is shown to be the opposite of Mrs. Yamada: a loving, understanding parent who is able to bridge the generation gap with his children through communication and acceptance of their American identities.

Mr. Kanno Quotes in No-No Boy

The No-No Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Mr. Kanno or refer to Mr. Kanno. 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:
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Washington Press edition of No-No Boy published in 1976.
Chapter 6 Quotes

“I came to America to become a rich man so that I could go back to the village in Japan and be somebody. I was greedy and ambitious and proud. I was not a good man or an intelligent one, but a young fool. And you have paid for it.”

“What kind of talk is that?” replied Kenji, genuinely grieved. “That’s not true at all.”

“I will go with you.”

“No.” He looked straight at his father.

In answer, the father merely nodded, acceding to his son’s wish because his son was a man who had gone to war to fight for the abundance and happiness that pervaded a Japanese household in America and that was a thing he himself could never fully comprehend except to know that it was very dear. He had long forgotten when it was that he had discarded the notion of a return to Japan but remembered only that it was the time when this country which he had no intention of loving had suddenly begun to become a part of him because it was a part of his children and he saw and felt in their speech and joys and sorrows and hopes that he was a part of them. And in the dying of the foolish dreams which he had brought to America, the richness of the life that was possible in this foreign country destroyed the longing for a past that really must not have been as precious as he imagined or else he would surely not have left it. Where else could a man, left alone with six small children, have found it possible to have had so much with so little?

Related Characters: Kenji Kanno (speaker), Mr. Kanno (speaker), Ichiro Yamada, Mr. Yamada, Mrs. Yamada
Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other No-No Boy quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

It had mattered. It was because he was Japanese that the son had to come to his Japanese father and simply state that he had decided to volunteer for the army instead of being able to wait until such time as the army called him. It was because he was Japanese and, at the same time, had to prove to the world that he was not Japanese that the turmoil was in his soul and urged him to enlist. There was confusion, but, underneath it, a conviction that he loved America and would fight and die for it because he did not wish to live anyplace else. And the father, also confused, understood what the son had not said and gave his consent. It was not a time for clear thinking because the sense of loyalty had become dispersed and the shaken faith of an American interned in an American concentration camp was indeed a flimsy thing. So, on this steadfast bit of conviction that remained, and knowing not what the future held, this son had gone to war to prove that he deserved to enjoy those rights which should rightfully have been his.

Related Characters: Mr. Kanno (speaker), Ichiro Yamada, Mr. Yamada, Mrs. Yamada, Kenji Kanno
Page Number: 109
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile

…It was on this particular night that the small sociologist, struggling for the words painstakingly and not always correctly selected from his meager knowledge of the Japanese language, had managed to impart a message of great truth. And this message was that the old Japanese, the fathers and mothers, who sat courteously attentive, did not know their own sons and daughters. “How many of you are able to sit down with your own sons and own daughters and enjoy the companionship of conversation? How many, I ask? If I were to say none of you, I would not be far from the truth.” He paused, for the grumbling was swollen with anger and indignation, and continued in a loud, shouting voice before it could engulf him: “You are not displeased because of what I said but because I have hit upon the truth. And I know it to be true because I am a Nisei and you old ones are like my own father and mother. If we are children of America and not the sons and daughters of our parents, it is because you have failed. It is because you have been stupid enough to think that growing rice in muddy fields is the same as growing a giant fir tree. Change, now, if you can, even if it may be too late, and become companions to your children. This is America, where you have lived and worked and suffered for thirty and forty years. This is not Japan.”

Related Characters: Mr. Kanno
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 7 Quotes

“Have a drink for me. Drink to wherever it is I’m headed, and don’t let there be any Japs or Chinks or Jews or Poles or Niggers or Frenchies, but only people. I think about that too. I think about that most of all. You know why?”
He shook his head and Kenji seemed to know he would even though he was still staring out the window. “He was up on the roof of the barn and I shot him, killed him. I see him rolling down the roof. I see him all the time now and that’s why I want this other place to have only people because if I’m still a Jap there and this guy’s still a German, I’ll have to shoot him again and I don’t want to have to do that. Then maybe there is no someplace else. Maybe dying is it. The finish. The end. Nothing. I’d like that too. Better an absolute nothing than half a meaning…”

Related Characters: Kenji Kanno (speaker), Ichiro Yamada, Mr. Kanno
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Get the entire No-No Boy LitChart as a printable PDF.
No no boy.pdf.medium

Mr. Kanno Character Timeline in No-No Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Mr. Kanno appears in No-No Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 6
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
...He lives with his father in a two-story house at the top of a hill. Mr. Kanno is sitting on the porch and warmly greets his son. Kenji has brought a gift:... (full context)
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Kenji and Mr. Kanno sit down at the kitchen table. Mr. Kanno is grateful for his children, and is... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Mr. Kanno notices that Kenji winces in pain when he moves his leg. Mr. Kanno almost starts... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Kenji tells Mr. Kanno that he is going to the hospital tomorrow. His father offers to come, but Kenji... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Mr. Kanno reveals that Kenji had enlisted in the army on his own, instead of waiting for... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Mr. Kanno remembers how, when he was in the internment camp, a week after Kenji had gone... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Kenji goes to take a nap and Mr. Kanno goes to the grocery store. As he walks, he remembers a young sociologist who had... (full context)
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
After Mr. Kanno returns home he cooks the chicken. His daughter Hanako arrives and helps make a salad,... (full context)
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Mr. Kanno follows Kenji outside and stops him on the porch. His father can tell something is... (full context)
Chapter 8
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Ichiro drives to Kenji’s house. He rings the doorbell and greats Mr. Kanno , who invites him inside. Mr. Kanno asks how Kenji was that morning, and Ichiro... (full context)
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Mr. Kanno offers to drive Ichiro home. As they drive, he tells Ichiro that he will go... (full context)
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Ichiro remarks that Kenji “deserved to live.” Mr. Kanno adds that Kenji deserved to be happy. Sometimes, Mr. Kanno confides, he thinks he should... (full context)
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Mr. Kanno drops Ichiro off at his home. Ichiro is confused by the quietness and smell of... (full context)