Disillusionment In Obasan

591 Words3 Pages
In war, the victims of violence, discrimination, and exile reveal the resulting disillusionment from the innate behaviors of people. That behavior of judgment, self-affirmation, superiority, and selfishness transcends race, ethnicity, and culture. Times of conflict and fear and death magnify those behaviors, furthering the suffering of victims. In the novel Obasan, Joy Kogawa tells woman’s recollection of the internment of Japanese-Canadians during World War II. The woman’s memories of that time reveal the personal consequences of fear, silence, and hate, which continue to pervade the present, suggesting unchanging human behavior and tendencies. Joy Kogawa questions humans’ ability to overcome base instincts of fear and power, and instead demonstrate love and…show more content…
In the epigraph, Kogawa refers to “a white stone… a new name written,” suggesting that identity is concrete once established. The Ten Commandments are written in stone, and thus further implies that the stone is unchanging. However, Uncle’s stone bread is highly reminiscent of one of the temptations of Satan, who attempts to persuade Christ to turn stone into bread. Thus, the transformation of bread to stone simultaneously suggests that the Nakane family is in the dominion of hell, and that attempts to turn their identity into nourishment or fulfillment are in vain in a world of judgment and prejudice. Through this hellish landscape, Kogawa introduces the results of the past through Naomi Nakane, whose present life is unsatisfying and stagnant. She is stuck in her own past, never truly different from her childhood. As a teacher, she finds herself bent to the will of children, for she is “no disciplinarian”(9). During her flashbacks, reveal the same silent disposition and passiveness to “the impertinence of children”(8), such as Ralph’s pushing and questioning about the lose chicks, to which Naomi (as a young child) “[does] not answer”(72). Even at thirty-six years of
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