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Farewell To Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston-Free Study Guide
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

PART I

CHAPTER 9: The Mess Hall Bells

Summary

The Japanese-Americans detained at Manzanar grow tired of their shabby living conditions and unfair imprisonment. Their anger increases until the tension in the camp is palpable; it finally erupts into violence. A riot takes place exactly a year after the attack at Pearl Harbor. There are large demonstrations and the police open fire and throw tear gas bombs. Two Japanese-American youths are killed during the fighting. In response, they ring the mess hall bells all night.

Notes

The Japanese-American internees at Manzanar are constantly suspected of being faithful to their native Japan and disloyal to America. In return, they try to prove they are good and faithful citizens of the United States. When they are still falsely accused, the tension in camp continues to increase. It is further intensified when some of the Japanese-Americans in camp form a black market to sell meat and sugar.


When the internees learn that one of their infants has died due to saccharin being mixed into the formula as sugar substitute, they simply explode and begin to riot. The riot, however, only complicates the situation. When the Manzanar Police are unable to control the Japanese-American demonstrations, they open fire on the crowds, killing two youths. The internees ring the mess hall bells all night in order to express their protests.

CHAPTER 10: The Reservoir Shack: An Aside

Summary

Jeanne's brother-in-law, Kaz, works as a foreman in reservoir maintenance detail, requiring him to carry an ax. Because of the ax, people are paranoid about his presence; he is constantly assaulted and insulted by camp officials and Manzanar Police (MP), who shout "Jap" at him.

It should be remembered that the guns and guards of the camp are there to keep the Japanese locked in, not to keep predators out. This strange inversion of principles naturally creates a feeling of enmity between the guarded and the guards. When something goes wrong, simply because the guards are too fierce, the guarded become angry, and the guards become more guarded.

Notes

This short chapter is truly an aside, a comment about Jeanne's brother-in-law, Kaz. His job in reservoir maintenance requires that he carry an ax. The irony is that all the camp officials are paranoid about his having one, especially the Manzanar Police (MPs); they, however, are suspicious of all the internees inside the camp.

The highlight of this aside is that when the sergeant leaves his three privates to keep an eye on the reservoir crew, both the privates and the crew are jittery, nervous and scared of the other. Although neither side seems to directly threaten the other; both are afraid of what might happen.

CHAPTER 11: Yes Yes No No

Summary

In February 1943, the Japanese men in camp are expected to sign the Government Loyalty Oath, pledging allegiance to America. Each male must mark two boxes to indicate whether he is allied with the United States and whether he will go to war against Japan. Woody, without any problem, plans to fill in the form with two yes answers; he wants to prove his allegiance to America. In contrast, Ko is opposed to the Loyalty Oath; he does not believe that America wants the allegiance of Japanese-Americans. He feels that internment at the camp proves that Japanese-American citizens are not valued in United States. Ko also cannot bear to think of going to war to fight those members of his family still in Japan. He feels so strongly about the entire issue that he actually remains sober to attend a meeting in the mess hall.

At the meeting, Ko tries to defend his position, but is called "inu." He unsuccessfully fights with his accuser and eventually decides to fill out the questions by marking yes answers. He is then persuaded to go home. After his return home, Jeanne watches as her father sings the Japanese national anthem with tears in his eyes.

Notes

The fact that Ko debates Woody about pledging allegiance to the United States on the Loyalty Oath does not mean he is a traitor to America, nor is it intended to seem that way. In truth, Jeanne sees her father as a compassionate man who cannot bear to see his oldest son stand up in arms against the country of their origin. Ko also tells Woody that he himself would never make a good American soldier, for he would never find America's cause just. Though he is loyal to America, works hard, and leads an honest life, his heart cries out for his native Japan. But Ko knows he would have no future in Japan; he also knows he would be sent home if he fills in his form with "No" answers. With a heavy heart, he answers "Yes."

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