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

PART II

CHAPTER 20: A Double Impulse

Summary

Life on the outside is very difficult for Jeanne. She is denied admission into the Girl Scouts because of her heritage and many parents object to their children's friendship with her. To compensate, she tries to become as American as possible. The more Jeanne tries to portray herself as a typical girl from the United States, the more her father wants to draw her toward her Japanese background. The two opposing forces tear at her, leaving her confused and frustrated.

The result is the "double impulse" she speaks of in the title of the chapter. On one hand, she wants to shrink away and be unnoticed so as not to be rejected. On the other hand, she wants to prove her worth; as a result she overachieves, becoming an excellent student and baton twirler. Her father is not so successful. His plans for the cooperative, as well as his attempts at drying seafood, fail miserably.

Notes

Jeanne's re-introduction into a normal American classroom is full of anxiety and unhappiness. The other students discriminate against her. They are surprised to find out she can actually speak English, which shocks Jeanne. The alienation continues with her exclusion from groups and friendships. Jeanne blames herself for these rejections and resolves to overcome them by proving herself. She pushes herself to excel in her studies and in baton twirling.


The pressures that she puts herself under, coupled with the discrimination that she feels, transform Jeanne from a happy, energetic child into a self-conscious young girl who would like to become invisible in order to escape the disapproval of others. In an effort to fit in, Jeanne finds herself trying to deny everything Japanese; her denials make her father push her more towards her Japanese heritage.

Eventually, Jeanne's skill in baton twirling gives her some acceptability. She is chosen as the leader in the drum and bugle corps and becomes friends with one of the girls who was surprised that she could speak good English.

CHAPTER 21: The Girl of my Dreams

Summary

Jeanne goes to Long Beach Polytechnic High School, where racism against Japanese students is present. None of the boys ask her out because she is Japanese. Her friend Radine, on the other hand, is very popular and included in most social events. Jeanne is always crushed when she herself is left out.

Jeanne's father grows ill as a result of his drinking. Hoping to improve his health, he decides to move from Long Beach to the valley outside San Jose. It is a good move for the family. Ko finally goes to work, tending strawberries. Jeanne finds that she is accepted at the San Jose high school, where she is elected Carnival Queen, Her father disapproves of what Jeanne has become, but her mother supports her.

Notes

This chapter presents Jeanne's teenage years as an understandably painful and frustrating period of adolescence. As a Japanese girl in a world dominated by blue-eyed blondes, Jeanne has difficulty fitting in and being included in social events. She is never asked out on a date. In truth, Long Beach Polytechnic brings her nothing but pain, although she is a good student. Even her best friend, Radine, unintentionally causes Jeanne pain; she is everything that Jeanne wants and cannot be. Jeanne, however, is not envious or resentful towards her popular Caucasian friend; instead, there is a curious detachment as she watches Radine and abandons her own hope of ever being popular herself. Jeanne knows that she is helpless to alter her heritage or fate.

When the family relocates to San Jose, life improves for the whole Wakatsuki family. Ko gets a job tending strawberries and Jeanne quickly fits in to her new school. She is even confident enough to enter and win a pageant, even though one of the teachers is opposed to a Japanese girl becoming Queen. Her father also resents that Jeanne has participated in the very American pageant and been crowned the queen; he still feels his daughter should be less American and more Japanese.

The Carnival ball is a painful disappointment for Jeanne, even though she is the queen. She realizes that her dress is old-fashioned and inappropriate in comparison to the dresses of her attendants. Young Jeanne is forced to see how her heritage will always affect how she fits into the new world into which she has been thrown. It is a difficult time for her, full of self-hatred, and the book masterfully captures the pain in carefully written passages.

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