"Farewell to Manzanar" Summary
Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston.
"Farewell to Manzanar" is the memoirs of Jeanne Watkatsuki Houston, a 2nd generation Japanese-American who was seven years old when she, along with her nine brothers and sisters and her parents, was relocated from the California coast to the Manzanar internment camp. For the next three and a half years, Jeanne watched as the family she loved was torn apart by the psychological confusion and Spartan living arrangements bestowed upon them by the United States government.
Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Jeanne's father Ko is a working-class fisherman who owns two boats and is often out fishing. As Jeanne narrates, the reader witnesses as he changes from a kind, if hotheaded, loving father, to a puttering drunk and an abusive husband. The effects of such an upset on the family unit as a whole are much more obvious when witnessed and explained by its youngest member.
She fondly recalls family dinners around a big table at her home on the California coast. However, once in camp it is neither practical nor possible for the whole family to eat together in their cramped living space or in the noisy mess hall. Ko tries to compensate for this sudden loss of power by exerting himself more strongly when Jeanne does not behave as he would like her to. In a drunken rage he once tries to beat Riku, Jeanne's mother. When Jeanne informs him of her desire to be baptized as a Catholic, Ko absolutely forbids it and refuses to listen to arguments, even though the nun with whom Jeanne has been meeting is also a friend of Ko's. This fracture of the family unit is reflected in the families of nearly all 10,000 members of the Manzanar camp, as well as...