No-No Boy

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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People are faced with the horrible fact of descrimination on a daily basis. No-No Boy is an excellent example of the situations people are forced to endure. The effects of descrimination can be witnessed in each of the characters described in the book. Ichiro's suffering and struggles are due to his mother's unacceptance of America. One can't help but to wonder how Ichiro's life would have been different if not for his mother. Ichiro's mother has a dominating presence on the family. Even his father's caring nature is silenced by her obsessions. In addition, Kenji's family is indirectly affected by Ichiro's mother.

Family environment is essential in the development of children. Kenji and Ichiro's personalities were a result of their family and home environments. Kenji's acceptance of Ichiro came from his father's acceptance of his decision to join the army. Kenji had a close, comfortable, and loving relationship with his father.

The description Okada gives of the heart-to-heart, father-to-son conversations shows a deep emotional bond.

Father and son could just as easily laugh together as they could express sincere heartfelt emotions.

Although Kenji's father could not completely understand the decision to fight in the war, he respected his son and was willing to be accepting of him. Okada describes a father's love and approval of his children by stating, " ... this country which he had no intention of loving had suddenly begun to become a part of him because it was a part of his children and he saw and felt it in their speech and joys and sorrows and hopes and he was a part of them."� (120) The reader gets the impression that no matter what path in life he chooses, Kenji knows there would always be the love and the support of his father. I believe this acceptance from his family led to Kenji's acceptance and understanding of Ichiro when others only shunned him. Okada's use of subtle details enables him to capture the reserved, yet affectionate, interaction of Kenji's family.

In contrast to Kenji, Ichiro could not be described as having a deeply emotional relationship with his father, even though for the most part it was a friendly one. A small, but significant barrier seemed to always be present between Ichiro and his father. Through conversations and events, the readers are aware that Ichiro knew his father believed that the ideas of his mother were absurd and irrational. Although Ichiro's father witnessed the anger and pain his son endured, he would not stand up to the deranged beliefs and ways of his wife. Therefore, a wall of resentment was built by Ichiro.