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Book review for No No Boy by John Okada - Essay Example

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Subject: History and Political Science Date: Title: "No No Boy" by John Okada Pressures and pulls are part of the life of the second-generation Japanese immigrants in United States and the younger generation challenging their parents is almost taken for granted…
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Book review for No No Boy by John Okada

Download file to see previous pages... The novel is a fiction, not memoir. The divided loyalties and the mental blocks are the issues with Ichiro Yamada who is interned during World War II. The author has written a book that clubs personal ideology with national ideologies and aspirations and how the combustible youth is caught in a dilemma of the emotional world between his country of origin and the country of which he is the citizen. Ichiro fails to answer appropriately two critical questions in the questionnaire related to allegiance to America. His improper answers and denial to serve in the American armed forces and his repudiation to abjure allegiance to Japan send him to prison. On his release from the prison, Ichiro moves back to Seattle and the ground realities of the social life there bother him intensely. His parents are proud of being Japanese and he accepts United States as his own. With this dilemma he meets and has discussions on the subject with many people, but is unable to sort out the conflicts within his inner world. Kenji, one of his intimate friends joins the military and during the war operations loses a leg with just two years to live. Ichiro sees parity in his mental anguish and the physical pain of Kenji. His friends and his own brother take potshots at him for not joining the army, which they term as betrayal of the country. The two friends discuss whether or not it is feasible to trade places. Ichiro admits candidly "I wasn't in the army, Ken, I was in jail. I'm a no-no boy." (p. 62)Though this is a joke between the two friends, it throws light on the type of social environment prevailing at that time which Ichiro finds it tough to challenge. The war has sharpened the conflicts of generations and anti-emotions have turned out to be hard. Adjusting with the new identity, even though one wants to go with, is hard due to the societal and familial pressures. Ichiro is compelled to bow before the hard identity scenario created by his mother. She wants him to identify with her Japanese identity and sets her own terms and conditions for loving him. Their views points about national identity are poles apart. He finally makes the decision that he is an American and looks forward to the future with cautious positivity. He is unable to think in tandem with his mother who has been in United States for thirty-five years and yet she identifies with the Japanese, viewed from all angels. John Okada was born and raised in Seattle and he attended University of Washington. The friend and foe of literary creations is time. Time intervened for more than a decade, before this book is able to hit the stands of popularity. This first literary creation by the author was published in 1957 and it remained unnoticed for years until it shot into fame when the literature of the Asian American minority groups becomes popular in the American literary scene by 1970s. This novel is the reflection of the inner crisis of the young Japanese who is confronted with the dual challenge of identity. Race is the crying question around which all other subsidiary confusion hangs around. Every segment in the town is labeled with the racial tag and its separate identity stands pronounced. “Oriental” is a big umbrella under which the categories of Japanese, Chinese and Asians are accommodated. Races victimized by the whites are also not at peace with each other and they are at loggerheads with their own problems. The younger generation has to break through such communal ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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