No-No Boy

Taro Yamada Character Analysis

Taro is Ichiro’s younger brother, the son of Mr. Yamada and Mrs. Yamada. Unlike Ichiro, who feels torn between his Japanese and American identities, Taro feels distinctly American, dropping out of school on his eighteenth birthday to join the military. He resents his brother, whose inner conflict has motivated Taro to double down on his American-ness. Not long after Ichiro returns home, Taro helps two of his friends attack him—they resent Ichiro because he is a no-no boy. Even after his mother’s death Taro does not return home, and has seemingly severed all ties to his family.

Taro Yamada Quotes in No-No Boy

The No-No Boy quotes below are all either spoken by Taro Yamada or refer to Taro Yamada. 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 1  Quotes

“Why don’t you do something about it?”

“I tell [Taro]. Mama tells him. Makes no difference. It is the war that has made them that way. All the people say the same thing. The war and the camp life. Made them wild like cats and dogs. It is hard to understand.”

“Sure,” he said, but he told himself that he understood, that the reason why Taro was not a son and not a brother was because he was young and American and alien to his parents, who had lived in America for thirty-five years without becoming less Japanese and could speak only a few broken words of English and write it not at all, and because Taro hated the thing in his elder brother which had prevented him from thinking for himself. And in this hate for that thing, he hated his brother and also his parents because they had created the thing in their eyes and hands and minds which had seen and felt and thought as Japanese for thirty-five years in an America which they rejected as thoroughly as if they had never been a day away from Japan.

Related Characters: Ichiro Yamada (speaker), Mr. Yamada (speaker), Mrs. Yamada, Taro Yamada
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9 Quotes

He was enjoying it and he felt that Emi was too. This is the way it ought to be, he thought to himself, to be able to dance with a girl you like and really get a kick out of it because everything is on an even keel and one’s worries are only the usual ones of unpaid bills and sickness in the family and being late to work too often. Why can’t it be that way for me? Nobody’s looking twice at us… Everything’s the same, just as it used to be. No bad feelings except for those that have always existed and probably always will. It’s a matter of attitude. Mine needs changing. I’ve got to love the world the way I used to. I’ve got to love it and the people so I’ll feel good, and feeling good will make life worth while. There’s no point in crying about what’s done. There’s a place for me and Emi and Freddie here on the dance floor and out there in the hustle of things if we’ll let it be that way. I’ve been fighting it and hating it and letting my bitterness against myself and Ma and Pa and even Taro throw the whole universe out of perspective. I want only to go on living and be happy. I’ve only to let myself do so.

Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
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Taro Yamada Character Timeline in No-No Boy

The timeline below shows where the character Taro Yamada appears in No-No Boy. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Upset, Ichiro goes to sleep. The next morning, his younger brother shakes him awake. Taro is uninterested in talking to Ichiro, who tries to engage him anyway. Taro tells Ichiro... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Taro, Ichiro, Mrs. Yamada, and Mr. Yamada eat in silence. Taro eats quickly and leaves. Ichiro’s... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Ichiro understands that Taro is fully American, whereas his parents, even after thirty-five years in America, have remained fully... (full context)
Chapter 3
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
...off at home and the two make plans for later in the evening. At home, Taro is playing solitaire in the kitchen. He turned eighteen today, and so has dropped out... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Taro feels Mrs. Yamada’s influence and needs desperately to free himself. However, he doesn’t say this.... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Ichiro, Mr. Yamada, and Mrs. Yamada stand stunned in Taro’s absence. His mother lets out a single cry, and then composes herself, asking about nickels... (full context)
Chapter 4
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
...life. Kenji doesn’t accept this offer, but their argument is interrupted by the appearance of Taro, who wants to talk to his brother outside. (full context)
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
Taro convinces Ichiro to come talk outside. Kenji wants to come, but Ichiro tells him to... (full context)
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
...compensation for his lack of acceptance.” Ichiro feels like he can forgive Bull, but not Taro. Kenji drives swiftly out of the city. He wants Ichiro to meet one of his... (full context)
Chapter 5
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Prejudice, Discrimination, and Racism Theme Icon
...you understand?” He continues, saying that his father will never understand his wife, Ichiro, or Taro. For a second Mr. Yamada seems poised to fight back, but then he deflates. Ichiro... (full context)
Chapter 8
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Mr. Yamada calls out to his sons, Taro and Ichiro, but they are not home and do not respond. He begins drinking again,... (full context)
Chapter 9
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Healing in the Aftermath of War Theme Icon
Mrs. Yamada’s funeral is held seven days after her death. Ichiro sent Taro a telegram, but his brother does not come. Mr. Yamada, meanwhile, loves the attention he... (full context)
Japanese vs. American Identity Theme Icon
Family and Generational Divides Theme Icon
Freddie drops Ichiro off at the family store. Ichiro makes tea and plays with Taro’s old deck of cards. He thinks back to his childhood, when he would listen to... (full context)