Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter Sweet Character Analysis

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Jamie Ford's Hotel on the Corner of Bitter Sweet is a historical fiction novel that takes place during the Japanese Internment of 1942. It centers n Henry Lee, a Chinese boy living with traditional Chinese parents and trying to grow up as a typical American kid in the U.S. during World War II. When he befriends a Japanese girl in the midst of the conflict, Henry soon discovers that navigating between the borders of cultures comes with many obstacles. The novel is a painful yet beautiful commentary of the racial separation in those times, capturing the struggles of both Japanese and Chinese Americans, along with a small look into African American’s lives as well. It tells the story of the horrible camps through the eyes of a young Chinese boy, which is an interesting perspective. Instead of basing it around a Japanese internee, the author chooses Henry as the main character to give a different viewpoint than that of the Japanese victims. By using Henry’s perspective, the author skillfully depicts…show more content…
Henry’s parents send him to an all-white school because they want him to “learn his American,” even though they themselves do not speak English, but force Henry to do so. As conflicts with bullies develop, Henry notices the barrier between himself and his white classmates. “Henry wasn’t sure which was more frustrating, the nonstop taunting in the school cafeteria or the awkward silence in the little Canton Alley apartment he shared with his parents.” (Ford 16) On one hand, he is made fun of for being the only Chinese boy at his school. On the other hand, he is ignored and teased by his Chinese friends for going to an all-white school. When Henry finds himself separated from his Japanese friends, Keiko, he realizes that he fits in nowhere, unable to speak to his parents or his best friend and, figuratively, is all by himself. It is a compelling way to show the outcomes and hardships of the Japanese
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