Analysis Of Julie Otsuka's When The Emperor Was Divine

1716 Words7 Pages

The book When the Emperor was Divine, written by Julie Otsuka, follows a family consisting of a mother, daughter, and son through the process of moving into a Japanese internment camp, their life in the camp, and the progression of assimilating back into society afterward. Julie Otsuka did not experience this unforgettable event herself, but through ample research, she was able to piece together an accurate representation of what happened to many Japanese families before, during, and after their encampment. Otsuka uses the experiences of her characters to portray to the audience the injustice of what the United States Government did to the Japanese during WWII (World War Two). The Japanese lived in poverty in the camps, and the government’s …show more content…

In doing so, she painted a picture of the physical and mental suffering the Japanese people were forced to endure at the hand of the government. The camps were placed in the middle of a desert, and Otsuka uses vivid language to describe this setting and the many other problems with the living conditions. Otsuka says, “everything she saw she saw through a cloud of fine white dust… and together they stepped out of the bus and into the blinding white glare of the desert” (Otsuka 48). The boy even at such a young age had no problems realizing that the location the government picked was not even close to ideal. He said, “it was not like any desert he had read about in books. There were no palm trees, no oases…There was only wind and dust and the hot burning sand” (Otsuka 53). The tiresome weather Otsuka wrote about is verified by the article “Topaz Camp,” which says, “The winter temperatures in the area typically hover near or below zero, and in the summer soar to the nineties or above” (“Topaz Camp”). Not only from the weather standpoint, but from the first glance at the family’s new residence, Otsuka makes it very clear that this “camp” is no summer vacationing location; it is a prison. Otsuka says, “the girl looked out the window and saw hundreds of tar-paper barracks sitting beneath the hot sun… barbed-wire fences… [and] soldiers” (Otsuka 48). Forgetting that they were in a prison was not an option. Otsuka described the food as bland and repetitive, the barbed wire fence is constantly mentioned, and there are situations such as a man getting shot for being near the fence which keep the prisoners feeling trapped. These situations create not just a government imposed physical prison, but a mental one as

Open Document