Code Talker throws us right into the Pacific battles between the Americans and the Japanese during World War II. Warfare is the big theme of this book. And what we'll learn is that warfare isn't just about a bunch of guys with guns shooting at one other. World War II wasn't just a battle of guns; it was a battle of communication.
And it was a rough battle. Code Talker gives us a first-hand look into the violence of the war, and the uphill fight the Americans faced in trying to outsmart their Japanese enemies using military code.
War is a terrible experience. There is nothing to be gained from killing and bloodshed. Discuss.
War isn't all bad. There's a lot to be gained from going through the experience of war. Discuss.
When we think of war, what might pop into mind are men in uniforms shooting at one another. That's a part of it, of course. But war is also about language and communication. The Americans couldn't have won World War II if they weren't able to communicate and organize their military strategy in an effective way.
Chester Nez's Code Talker shows us how World War II was as much a battle over language and communication as it was over territory and power. Without the Navajo code that Chester and his buddies developed, it's likely that the Americans would have lost the Pacific to the Japanese. But language and communication are also important in this book because they hint at Chester's own identity as a guy with each foot in a different world: one in the mainstream "Anglo" American world, and the other is in the Navajo world.
Language functions as a bridge between Chester's two cultures in the book. Discuss.
Language represents the conflict between Chester's two cultures in the book. Discuss.
Uncle Sam. The Star Spangled Banner. Lady Liberty. Apple pie. Patriotism for 'Murica is a pretty big theme in Code Talker.
This is a memoir about a time in history—World War II—when America was under serious threat, and the narrator of this book is a very patriotic guy. When his country's attacked, he risks his life to defend it. This is additionally admirable considering that as a Navajo, Chester and his people weren't treated that well by America. He didn't even have the right to vote until 1947, and the government liquidated his family assets by literally burning most of their herd.
Chester and his Navajo buddies join the war effort to defend Navajo land, not America. Discuss.
Chester and his Navajo buddies join the war effort not only to defend Navajo land, but all of America. Discuss.
Who am I? Where do I belong? Where's my home? Chances are, we all ask ourselves these questions at some point in our lives.
But if we're Navajo, we're probably asking ourselves these questions all the time. Is being Navajo the same thing as being American, especially when you're not allowed to vote in US elections until 1947? Why is there so much conflict between Navajo and Anglo culture? Is there a way to reconcile these two conflicting identities? These are the types of questions that our narrator, Chester Nez, asks himself over and over again in Code Talker.
Chester is a victim of the culture clash between his Navajo and Anglo cultures. Discuss.
Chester's dual cultures are a blessing. He gains a lot from having access to both cultures. Discuss.
Code Talker isn't just a war story; it's like a crash course in the traditions and customs of the Navajo people.
The book gives us a vision of the traditional Navajo lifestyle, which revolves around the land and the rearing and herding of livestock. We also get a peek into a number of Navajo rituals and ceremonies, and we learn about Navajo beliefs about living according to the "Right Way." So this book can be read as a document not only of World War II, but also of Navajo culture.
The traditions and customs of Chester's Navajo culture are a big source of strength for him. Discuss.
The traditions and customs of Chester's Navajo culture are a big source of conflict for him. Discuss.
Chester wouldn't be Chester without his family. His values, his principles, his beliefs, are all drawn from his grandmother, his father, and his aunts and uncles. Not only does Chester's family give him a sense of identity, it also supports him through the tough times (and there are about a zillion tough times described in Code Talker).
In this way, the book shows us family both as a source of identity and a source of support. Family is at the root of who we are. Chester wouldn't be the awesome dude he is without his family.
Chester's family life is a source of joy. Discuss.
Chester's family life is a source of sadness. Discuss.
We'd bet that if we were thrown into the middle of a raging battle with a bunch of kids from school and had to rely on them to survive, we'd get pretty close to them pretty quickly. This is what happens in war: one minute you're strangers, the next you're saving each other's lives and forming some pretty deep bonds as a result.
Code Talker dwells at length on the bonds that Chester forms not only with his code-talking buddies, but with his other Marine buddies as well.
Chester's strongest bonds of friendship are with other Navajo Marines. Discuss.
Chester not only forms bonds of friendship with the Navajo Marines, but with non-Navajo Marines as well. Friendship breaks down the barriers between Navajos and non-Navajos. Discuss.
It takes a lot of guts to voluntarily sign up to join the Marines and risk your life for your country. Can you even imagine what it's like to go thousands of miles away from home after a few weeks of training and be responsible for defending yourself, your buddies, and your homeland… all with the knowledge that you may die doing it?
Yikes. We're even scared of silly things like creaky elevators.
Code Talker is about the importance of courage. In this book, Chester and the code talkers represent the courage and heroism of the troops who fought to defend America during World War II.
Chester isn't a courageous guy. He just does his duty. Discuss
Chester is extremely courageous. He goes above and beyond. Discuss.