Mrs. Moritz's 9th Honors English

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

1st Hour ManzanarScribe

We began our class today with a reminder that everyone needs to turn in overdue books to the library and pay fines or YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO REGISTER. Then we viewed yet another 1984 T-Shirt, the last I believe. We then moved onto discussion of last night's reading, a full 5 pages of large print type. Basically, the rooms that the Japanese people are given in these camps suck. They are 2 feet off the ground and there are cracks in the floorboards so, during the night, dust blows up through the cracks and covers everything. The family attempts to cover the holes with tin can lids and scrap lumber. At the end of the chapter, Woody is also very mocking of the Caucasians with his comment about the food.
Next we got a handout with a copy of the document that was handed out to "Persons of Japanese Descent" in 1942. It gave Japanese-Americans around 6 days to sell their house, furniture, cars, and pets then pack for the trip to the camps. All these people were allowed to bring were: Bedding and Linens, Toiletries, Extra clothing, eating utensils and anything else that could be carried. This brought to light the extreme racism that was shown in this time and how this racism connects to the aftermath of 9/11. We heard many stories of personal racism and came to the conclusion that everyone is racist in some way and in certain situations. We also discussed how the younger generation is typically more accepting while older generations are more set in their ways and views.
Then we read the back side of the handout- a letter from and interned Japanese-American child. Some people wanted to know if someone who was not Japanese could go into the camps to be with their families. This brought up the question of why the Japanese were interned and not the Germans or Italians. We decided it came down to how they looked. It is not easy for us to identify a certain descent among Europeans, most look more or less the same. However, it is very easy to tell a Japanese person from a European so it was easier to round them up so to speak. Mrs. Moritz then gave us a visual of how much living space the people in the camps had and what it would be like to live in that space.
Also, for most of the class period, Jordan was making rounds with a giant tub of mints. I believe the end count was 6 mints for each person, not a bad haul. THANKS JORDAN!
For the rest of class we read our books.
HOMEWORK: Read up to Chapter 7 respond to blog question on blog or on paper due tomorrow.

Read the following passages that occur in the beginning of the book. What do you think of them? How do they make you feel? What emotions have you experienced since beginning this novel and how do you feel about this part of American History? How can we prevent this from happening again?

"It is sobering to recall that though the Japanese relocation program, carried through such incalculable costs in misery and tragedy, was justified on the ground that the Japanese were potentially disloyal, the record does not disclose a single case of Japanese disloyalty or sabotage during the whole war..."
Harper Magazine, 1947

Life has left her footprints on my forehead
But I have become a child again this morning
The smile, seen through leaves and flowers,
is back, to smooth
Away the wrinkles
As the rains wipe away footprints
on the beach. Again a
Cycle of birth and death begins.
Viet Nam Poems, 1967


  • I have felt like if I were in these people's position, I would be very confused on what to do. I would be scared because it seems like something very random. Even though they may have been a threat, it was still random to make them all just get up and leave. I would be so scared. I wouldn't know when I was coming home, what life would be like when I returned. What if when I returned life as I knew it has ceased to exist? It would be like moving to a foreign country. These people had almost all of their rights stolen from them. There was no privacy, no right to a trail, nothing. The poor people had to use cardboard to make a stall or shower curtain so they wouldn't feel deprived of their privacy.

    Also do anyone think that they understood why they were confined? Did the Japanese for give the U.S.? If so how quickly did they forgive us? Would you forgive the U.S. if you were in their position?

    By Blogger kkanski12, at 10:24 AM  

  • I think that the poem is very pretty, for one thing. I'm never sure about interpreting poetry, but I think it might be saying that life can walk all over you (thus the footprinted forehead), but you can smile and forgive and forget, as they might say. This is like kaley's (wow total brain fart so I hope that's your name) questions. I think that the Japanese definitely knew what they were being imprisoned for, but I have no idea if more people than the author of this poem decided to forgive. I don't think I would, at least not easily, and because it took them so long to even get some compensation going.

    Through this book, there is the sense of incredulity, that the govt could do something like that. I know that is the easy answer, but I said it anyway. The feeling I get reading this book is that of loss. Its hard to explain, but do you remember, like as a kid, or even now, losing someone, something, or some opportunity that was very important to you? I especially got that feeling when the mom was smashing the china.

    We can prevent this from happening again by being aware. I think what Mrs. Moritz did was a good idea. She talked to the man on the plane, and found that he was not as he appeared to be. The truth is, no matter how many times we are told something (such as, oh "the truth can be decieveing"), we won't really believe in it until we experience it firsthand.

    By Blogger Tina L, at 2:08 PM  

  • Hey everyone! How are you all? Well, I hope. I mean, we started our days off with like 50 peppermint patties from Jordan; how bad can it be?! hahaha ;)

    I think that part of this book's theme is pretty obvious: The US put the Japanese Americans in internment camps and it was awful. It was a terrible, horrible, sickening thing to have happen in history. So, in this aspect, I'm sure we'll all have similar feelings. No one is proud, or happy, or cheerful about these internment camps, right?

    But I find the true heart of the story, and the part I'm most interested in, isn't the life of the author and her family in an internment camp. It's the life of the the author and her family, PERIOD. Just the simple little things she talks about; her father's shoulders, her brother's laugh, her mother in the bathroom, the surroundings, the ocean's waves and on and on and on. She really is just a person, a lot like us, in different circumstances in a different time.

    Did anyone else realize how SAD the book is when it addresses the subject of losing the core family unit? Page 37, final paragraph: " My own family, after three years of mess hall living, collapsed as an integrated unit. Whatever dignity or feeling of filial strength we may have known before December 1941 was lost, and we did not recover it until many years after the war, not until after Papa died and we began to come together, trying to fill the vacuum his passing left in all our lives." That's SO sad, it almost hurts. Can anyone sympathize with the author here? I know that after my parents got divorced, we all felt ripped up and torn into pieces and it has taken almost two years for us to bring ourselves back together, into two families this time, to be the same as we were.

    By Blogger CMeghan, at 2:11 PM  

  • The first passage makes me feel like i want to laugh. It seems weird but not because it was funny but all you can do with something this bad is laugh. Laugh at the paranoia and irrational thought that has to happen for this to become reality. I have felt like i was connected to the characters. Like many others this chapter in American history is not pretty and it isn't something we try to shine alot of light on. We can prevent this from happening by being more tolerant and not generalize by race. The poem is uplifting. it helps me see how this culture is so calm and accepting of what and where life gives them and brings them.

    By Blogger Dan E, at 3:46 PM  

  • As horrible as it sounds, I agree with Dan. It sounds like just another one of the dumb things that someone could mistakenly say. However, it really isn't because it threatened the people's well-being. I really hate learning about this part of US history because it is embarassing. Much like other countries, in the US we learn what the positives our country has done and how we are always the "good guys." So I think that this is very sobering, and knocking the US off of it's pedastol. Saying, "Wait, you guys made a mistake, too."

    By Blogger Annika_EP, at 4:44 PM  

  • I can't believe Americans did this to other AMERICANS. It makes me very ashamed even though I wasn't here to experience it at all. I understand that there was a major war going on, but honestly no one deserves to be imprisoned for no reason other than their race. I am glad, however, that the book so far hasn't been too closely comparable and as violent or cruel as the Holocaust. Not to belittle the injustice of internment, but it could have been a lot worse. I love how the author tells about the conditions at the camp and how it changed her family. It definitely would make people think twice before letting something like it happen again. It's sad that families were torn apart and people like Papa became so old because of it, but I think it shows a good lesson in that family really is important in this society of always being busy and not having time for your family. Although the book is sad, it's nice to see that the author still has her humor and can share about her life in a real way instead of just in a textbook or something. I'm really enjoying it so far, but it definitely evokes some conflicting emotions in me.

    By Blogger Rachel K, at 5:08 PM  

  • I think that these passages gave a good insight into what really happened during the red scare. Many things the government was doing during this time was a bit foggy and many people did not trust the government. I think this is by far one of the worst events that has taken place in American history. Since the beginning of this book, I have felt confused on why the United States' government had a right to do this to people, and furthermore why the government suspected the Japanese Americans of Communism so much. The Japanese Americans loved the U.S. just as much as Americans loved the U.S. Why were they any different? Does how they look and the color of their skin justify this? I personally do not think so. However I can see why the U.S. government had to be careful with the Japanese Americans to a certain degree. However, I do not think it justified the way they treated these people and the horrible living conditions. The most the government would have had to do, was perhaps make them relocate, and pay them some kind of benefit for doing so. I think an internment camp went way too far.

    Meg~ Awesome comment! I did notice how terrible the living conditions were, and how terribly sad it was. The internment camps ripped families apart and took the pride and sense of family unity out of everyone.

    I think we, America, have learned an awfully important lesson because of the Japanese-American internment camps. I think most of us who have studied the camps and lives of the people in them, realize that that is no way to treat anybody. Atleast, I hope people understand this, and have learned a valuable lesson from it.

    By Blogger melissa61192, at 5:25 PM  

  • I think that this is yet another glitch on the not-so-immacualte American record. This is not the first time that the American Goverenment has made a huge mistake. It is shocking to learn what we did but, as sad as that may seem, it is not a real suprise. There are alot of idiots in America and there are alot in the government. We can keep this from happening again by being a concience public. If we hear about something like this, we need to make things right. You can make a difference.

    By Blogger Korlandini, at 5:36 PM  

  • Responding to Commager's quote, I would say exactly. Honestly, to LOCK THEM ALL UP is kind of ridiculous. Yes, you can watch them closely, like we do in airports with suspicious people or such, but to put them INTO A CAMP is not really fair, since they can't ALL BE INVOLVED WITH THEIR JAPANESE RELATIVES AT HOME!!!! And some people would argue that "it was good protection, and look, we didn't find anyone, so perhaps they stopped their plotting." So to that, I would say, suit yourself. Ha, I must be really good at controlling my anger today!!!

    As to respond to Kaley's question, i don't think Jeanne writing the story knows what's going on, AT ALL. But I think her dad is affected by the situation, and he can't believe the U.S. for doing this, so perhaps that's why he acts really differently towards her now.

    By Blogger KylieYoum, at 5:56 PM  

  • I tink that it is sad that America feels like it must always categorize everyone. This just leads to things like assuming that anyone of Japanese decent during WWII is scheming against the land they love. It is amazing and obviously a great attribute of their society that they were able to stay calm and operate as a family for so long. I mean, some of our families seem like they are falling apart or full of irritation after 1 hour of actual interaction. These people functioned as a family for 3 years while they all lived in the same room and had (gasp!!!) bad food. I think that the footprint on the beach being washed away was kindof what happened to America. No sign of the footprint was there, thus leading you to believe that the footprint had never existed (1984!). This is what happened to the Japanese-American people. The were removed from society so that people never even knew they existed. I'm sorry, but I think that a beach is a sad place without footprints, just as I think America would be much worse off without people that come from all over the world, Japan and elsewhere.

    By Blogger sander k., at 6:23 PM  

  • I think this is a really vivid example of America's ignorance to the culture and opinions of foreigners and minorities. Many of our laws are passed because legislatures vote a certain way so they will get re-elected by the majority. Instead of doing what is right, we tend to do what is popular. Americans in this era were very reluctant to accept new or different ideas. Anything that threatened their lifestyle was cast aside and ignored. The Japanese by no means were threatening to the American people but we never gave them a chance to voice their attitudes.

    By Blogger Kristen, at 8:33 PM  

  • I was reading some of the blog responses, and I felt very similar to some when I read the first quote. I had to laugh. It’s such an inappropriate reaction to it, that in some ways it seems fitting. I don’t think we truly understand what these people endured. The impact that it must have had on their lives, I literally can’t imagine. It’s absolutely absurd that we would do such things to fellow human beings.

    Reading the poem, a great sense of serenity takes over. What is more amazing to me is the poise that the Japanese acted upon. They never rioted, they never complained. They accepted the situation with such dignity, such grace. I have been to China, and you can feel the pride all around. It is not arrogance, but great pride in their culture and what they stand for. I imagine it’s very similar to the Japanese culture. This poem represents the peaceful way these people accepted what was done to them. I also feel that A Farewell to Manzanar isn’t a political statement in any way; it’s a woman’s story of her recollection of her past.

    Reading this book reminds me a great deal of the Native American Boarding Schools that we sent millions of Native children to in the 19th century. No one knows much about them because it is simply not talked about. It was a very dark time in our nation’s history that seems to get swept under the rug. We sent these children to European like schools where their culture was physically beaten out of them. I think that things like this are almost unavoidable. People never seem to discuss the other side of humanity.

    By Blogger Martha P., at 8:56 PM  

  • After reading thesse passages, I feel like our country is balancing on a fine line. Because of the fact that America is like a big melting pot, there are so many different cultures together in any given area. If an attack happens to be caused by a minority of our localities, we automatically discriminate. It's human nature. Regardless, we need to know where we draw the line. When someone from a country with which we have bad relations, how dangerous are they really to our national security? When can we say that we proteceted our citizens by essentially imprisoning our citizens. I don't think that we can, but even now 60+ years later, I don't think this type of situation is compltely out of the question. It's a terrible thing to say, but when we get scared, we blame the minority. It's similar to when you get in trouble with your parents. You blame the offense on your younger sibling because not only are they basically unable to defend themselves against you, but they seem like the likely culprit to your parents anyway. In this way, American citizens often want someone to blame, and since the minorites are different and unable to help themselves, we take out our fear and anger on them. It's not right, but that's the way it is. After the fact, life went on and the Japanese now live like all other American citizens. Still the "wrinkles" never disappear, but they are smoothed over.

    By Blogger Whitney**, at 9:08 PM  

  • with reguards to what we think if when we read this passage kind of reminds me of the civil war. even though many people think they have nothing in common b/c one was a war and one was a "camp". I don't see the similarities in the physical attributes in each. I compare them because of the way people thought. the country, at bith dates in history, was confused and didn't know what to do. in the case of the civil war the norths didn't agree with slavery and so they began to look for someone to blame. So they took it out on the south. the south didnt agree with the way that the states didnt have enough rights. so they blamed the north. Even though they were taking it out on their own people. in the case of the internment camps, Americans were confused and were looking for someone to blame. one type of people they could do this to were the japenese-americans. they didnt have to go across the world to punish them and they were easy targets.

    In reaction to how i feel about the time, if feel about this part in american history, i feel that it was wrong but that you can't hate america for it. people always blame america for everything we do, even though people in other countries were doing worse and more horrifying things to other races/religions. I do not believe this justifies it, but it does give an explanation to why we did. we were scared and needed to do something about it. this helped american morale, as dumb and racist as it seems, b/c in our eyes, by taking out a potential enemy. I also believe we didn't do this to Germany or italy, b/c they had not attacked us directly and also the war against them was a land war, whereas against Japan, we fought w/ navy and AF.

    By Blogger sbull, at 9:14 PM  

  • These are two very interesting quotes. I think that the first one shows how much fear controls us as a society. When things like war happen to people they lose all sense of judgment and do everything only to protect them selves. After Pearl Harbor, the Caucasians no longer had respect for the Japanese and put them all in internment camps. This situation showed how much we all lost out heads and began to freak out and no longer think rationally.

    By Blogger Laine G, at 9:29 PM  

  • I think the first quote shows America's attitude at the time of the occurrences. The people saw the Japanese internment camps as a way to protect our country, to ensure that noting bad will ever again happen on American soil. I think that these actions fulfilled their purpose of settling some fears that the American people had at the time. It was a coping mechanism that brought some certainty into their lives that were filled with unknowns. By blaming someone at home, it seemed more real than blaming someone across the world, it was here and now the government fixed it so it will be all better.

    By Blogger alyse, at 9:57 PM  

  • I'm a big fan of fiction books that have a happy ending. As I continue to read this book, I keep trying to tell myself that it wasn't real and that everything will turn our alright in the end.

    The fact is: It was real, it did happen (to the author), and it produces such a bundle of emotions in me that all I can do is shake my head. I have no idea how anyone who calls themself an American could tolerate and allow things like this to happen.

    As with everything in history, most events produce a kind of horror-fascination. Reading this book is like reading the diary of Anne Frank, but it hits much more close to home because she was an AMERICAN.

    It's hard to imagine, it's hard to deal with, but it did happen.

    The poem is a sharp contrast to the passage above and it gleams of hope. I don't know if I could face that kind of advertisy and be able to give that kind of forgiveness.

    The resiliance of the human spirit is amazing.


    By Blogger RachelP, at 8:25 AM  

  • Overall I am saddened by these passages and I find waht we did the Japanese, horrible and unjust. This is one part of American history that I am not proud of. I agree with what almost everyone has said and am shocked that no one stood up against this. As stated this book is saddening and shocking however I also belive that it is frightening, and angering. The only way I think it is possible to prevent this is if people unite against injustice and can recognize it under any admisnistration. We also, have to think before we act and not give in to fear.

    By Blogger tony_j, at 8:58 AM  

  • People saw the holocaust as horrible and people didn't think that it would ever happen in the U.S. and that Americans would never be so cruel as to inflict the same physical and emotional pain on other humans like Hitler did to the Jews. What the U.S. did to the Japanese wasn't as bad as the concentration camps but we still singled out a group of people and punished them for things they didn't do. Only based on what they have the potential of doing. Even to those who were born in America!

    By Blogger Blair, at 10:08 AM  

  • Those passages made me really mad, just becuase the Japanese are people to. We would not like it if we were put into internment and forced labor camps by our own country, so why would they?

    By Blogger matt f., at 11:24 AM  

  • I think that the things that were said are completely correct. No Japanese people that were detained during the time of WWII ever proved to be disloyal in any way and it was wrong and disloyal of the government to do what they did to the Japanese people. The fact that they just rounded them up like cattle is just sickening. The moron who came up with these relocation camps should be strung up by his ears. In the letter that we read today it said that no Germans or Italians were being interned. That is not trus. There were more than just Japanese internment camps.

    I also think that the conditions that the people who were in the camps are comparable to the ghettos of Poland. They do not have the death rate that the ghettos had, but the disrespect that American cirtizens were recieving in their own country was unconstitutional. The actions of the US government during that time should be apoligized for and there should be something done for the Japanese Americans who had to suffer through the cruelty of the American legal system in a time of ignorance.

    By Blogger tim c, at 6:19 PM  

  • I can understand HOW the US could put the Japanese Americans in internment camps, but I don't (morally) understand WHY (lol).

    I think putting all the J.A. in internment camps pretty much went against most everything we stood for. Land of the free? Right to a trial before jury?

    I also find it really ironic (I think Jeanne mentions it in the book) that we didn't imprison Germans or Italians even though we were fighting them, too. It could be the fact that they didn't actually attack our lands, but still...they were allied with the Japanese...

    That would be so aggravating/frustrating/overwhelming. Forced out of your home with what few personal belongings you can carry with no ability to protest or defend yourself. Forced to sell off whatever you can't carry for WAY LESS than you know it's all worth (like Mama's china in the novel). Forced to live with virtually no privacy and few conveniences (like bathrooms, laundry machines, stoves...) I agree with what Tim said regarding disrespect.

    By Blogger AlisonB, at 8:18 PM  

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