"Obasan": The Power of Dreams

Essay by gcman800High School, 10th grade September 2006

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Dreams can be a powerful thing. They can show how a person truly feels about something or someone without guilt, kindness, or any other emotions clouding up the true feelings. The subconscious is not concerned with sparing peoples feelings. It only conveys the true emotions that would otherwise remain silent. Dreams are the outlet for the subconscious, its way to let the feelings out. In Obasan, by Joy Kogawa, Naomi expresses her emotions in this way. As the rest of the Japanese-Canadians, Naomi has been traumatized by the discrimination that occurred during the Second World War era. She also suffered from many personal problems. Naomi always felt powerless throughout her life, as if she had no control over it. She has three dreams which express her lack of control. The first dream is filled with confusion and a sudden realization that shows her how little control she actually has.

In the second dream, there is a feeling of being used. The third dream shows her fear of death. These emotions follow her throughout her life.

The first dream is one of confusion and enlightenment. Naomi dreams of women and men both working without knowing why they laboured. There is a mist, and a British martinet is in command. He had an incredibly obedient robot beast. Her Uncle, Isamu, who has just died, arrives in her dream doing a flower dance. There is a red rose in his mouth. Naomi dreams this is at her Aunt Obasan's house the night she arrives for her Uncle's funeral. This dream is not only about the concentration camps that the Japanese-Canadians were forced to live in, which is the stimulus for many of her dreams. It is also about letting go of her Uncle, both if which make her feel powerless. The...