"Last Days of Summer" in American History
Last Days of Summer is set right around the entrance of the United States into World War II. The attack on Pearl Harbor takes place in almost the middle of the novel.
Growing up as a Jew in New York City in an Italian neighborhood was very difficult for Joey Margolis. He was always getting beaten up by one group of kids, and then made up ridiculous stories like he got "run over by a vegetable cart" or he was "holding up a bank". Joey was convinced, and rightfully so, that these boys were beating him up because he was a Jew. Throughout the novel, Joey kept referring to those situations as very similar as to what was going on in Germany with Hitler.
Joey's friend Craig Nakamura, who is Japanese, also felt discrimination during the war. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S.
Government was concerned that any Japanese American could be a spy, especially those living on the West Coast. Craig had just recently moved out to Santa Monica with his family. Soon thereafter FDR passed a law that authorized the military to exclude any persons from an area in order to maintain national security. In other words, the military was allowed to take any and all Japanese Americans from their homes, and put them in internment camps. Craig and his entire family were sent to one. The FBI had ridiculous reasons to justify these actions, like, tomatoes in their yard were pointing towards an airplane factory, and that there was a rumor that Craig's uncle's farming company was going to bomb Washington DC. It seemed as if no ethnicity was safe from prejudice during this war.
Joey also demonstrated his deep concern for the well being of...