They Called Us Enemy


George Takei

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Themes and Colors
American Democracy and Civic Engagement Theme Icon
Racism and War Theme Icon
History and Education Theme Icon
Family, Community, and Trauma Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in They Called Us Enemy, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

American Democracy and Civic Engagement

They Called Us Enemy follows five-year-old George Takei and his family as, in the months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, they are incarcerated in a Japanese internment camp. The graphic memoir details George’s personal experiences of growing up in internment camps, as well as the larger story of Japanese internment in the United States and the policies that enabled it. The story of Japanese internment poses a challenge to foundational…

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Racism and War

Though racism and anti-Asian sentiment existed in the United States prior to the country’s entry into World War II, They Called Us Enemy shows that, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, anti-Japanese sentiment exploded. Several passages in the graphic memoir depict white civilians destroying a Japanese family’s car and painting racial slurs on it, while others show how powerful people in the military and government accused Japanese Americans of conspiring against the U.S. without any…

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History and Education

Near the end of They Called Us Enemy, George Takei says that one of the biggest issues in the United States is that the darker chapters of American history—such as the forced incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II—aren’t commonly talked about. Indeed, when teenaged George becomes curious about his childhood in the internment camps and searches through his textbooks and library books for information, he finds next to nothing about what happened…

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Family, Community, and Trauma

George Takei is only five years old when the U.S. enters World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Mere months after the country’s entry into the war, the government incarcerates just over 120,000 Japanese Americans in 10 internment camps around the country. For George’s parents, Mama and Daddy, their goal as they face internment is simple: to keep their young family of five together, safe, and as happy as possible. But as…

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