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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford - Essay Example

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In the paper “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford” the author makes a critical review of the novel. He qualifies this book as a firsthand account of the racial tensions that persisted within this society, revealing the animosity between the Chinese and their Japanese-American counterparts…
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Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford
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Download file to see previous pages The book opens in Seattle’s Japantown where a big crowd is gathered outside the Panama hotel. In the hotel, the new occupant makes a valuable discovery of the belongings of former owners, Japanese families who left them there at the height of the war, when they were taken to the internment camps. As Henry takes a gaze into these age-old Japanese items, he walks down the memory lane to his childhood days, a memory that is too strong to resist. The scene at the beginning of the book reminds Henry of his long time broken heart as he recounts the circumstances under which he left his hometown in the 1940s. This introductory scene opens our view to Henery’s present life and provides a framework for understanding the transformations that might have taken place in Seattle since the 1940s. The historical context of the story in 1942 can be taken as a more realistic recollection of the ugly face of the Second World War and life in the Japanese internment camps. More specifically, it is a story of disillusionment and bitterness amongst the families that were displaced or relocated by the war. Henry is an example of such families, who only carries a faint idea of what was once their home before they were scattered by the war. At the time of the war in 1942, the 12-year-old henry is an elementary school student at the Reiner Elementary School, where he is on a scholarship. Since this is an all-white school where he is the only Chinese, the author covertly discusses the origins of neocolonialism, a sense of white supremacy whereby people must have the western form of education. to ‘succeed’ in the society. The Chinese embrace western superiority themselves as opposed to the western powers imposing it on them. Henry’s father for instance is very pleased with the fact that only him could manage to send his son to a white school. This is ironical as Henry’s father remains patriotic to his Chinese nationality and expects everybody to recognize his son’s nationality as China. Henry’s father even goes to the extent of wearing a button that declares his Chinese nationality and does not hide his disdain for the Japanese (Ford). By taking Henry to an all-white, school however, Henry’s father moves his son away from the Chinese roots, which he has worked tirelessly to protect over the years. Henry becomes a perfect example of the post war alienation of various nationals as he begins to identify more with the Americans. In this regard, the author unwittingly dismisses western education as a dividing and alienating factor that erodes native values and feeds the learners with its hybrid and non-patriotic values. This explains the fact that following enrolment in a white dominated school, Henry finds in himself on a collision course with his father who disapproves of his newly acquired American values yet he took him to a white school at the expense of the local Japanese Schools. The fact that the Americans and their white counterparts oppressed the Chinese and other locals in Seattle is evident in the manner in which the white students treat ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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