Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Part I, Chapter 11

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

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Part I, Chapter 11

Yes Yes No No

  • This chapter opens with two questions—#27 and #28—taken from an application (the Loyalty Oath) that every camp internee over seventeen years old had to fill out.
  • These two questions basically ask the internees whether they're willing to serve in the U.S. army and whether they're willing to forswear allegiance to Japan and swear allegiance to the U.S; the Loyalty Oath comes out a couple of months after the December Riot.
  • Even though the camp has made changes—they all got Christmas trees and a new director who's nicer to them—the Loyalty Oath makes it pretty clear that the U.S. government hasn't really changed its tune when it comes to Japanese-American people.
  • The questions drive a wedge between Papa and Woody because Woody's willing to go to war for America while Papa doesn't understand how or why Woody could do that after America interned them.
  • It's a tough call.
  • Woody wants to know if Papa wants him to answer No No to the two questions.
  • Papa doesn't want that because by answering this way Woody could be sent back to Japan.
  • But if Woody answers Yes Yes to the questions, Papa thinks Woody is basically volunteering himself as a soldier for the war.
  • For his part, Woody doesn't think it matters because he'll be drafted anyway. He's willing to go to war in hopes that he can help the war effort and the government will end internment earlier.
  • Talk about a rock and a hard place, right?
  • Plus, it's not like there are that many choices available to the internees. They can be (1) sent back to Japan, (2) go into the U.S. army, or (3) be relocated away from the west coast through a job sponsorship.
  • That third option isn't an easy one either, and involves getting completely bogged down in paperwork.
  • Even though the JACL has organized a bunch of Niseis to volunteer for the war effort, most people think the Loyalty Oath is dumb; it pretty effectively prods a bunch of normally chill Japanese-Americans into becoming completely anti-American.
  • But even though the Loyalty Oath causes a lot of disagreements, Papa knows that he's going to answer Yes Yes to the questionnaire just like Woody—there's no way Papa is going to risk being sent to Tule Lake (the camp for "disloyal" Japanese Americans), or worse back to Japan, where he would have no life.
  • There's a final meeting at the camp for all the heads of the households about how the camp should answer the Loyalty Oath—a bunch of people are trying to bully the camp into answering No No to the questionnaire.
  • Papa stays sober the entire day just to prepare for this meeting, so that he can defend his Yes Yes answer.
  • Young Jeanne is near the meeting hall when Papa and another guy burst out of the hall, with Papa beating the guy.
  • Why?
  • While Papa was defending his reply, the other guy called him inu to his face.
  • Bad call.
  • A sandstorm breaks up the fight and Papa returns to the barracks to nurse his injuries.
  • A family friend comes by and Papa and the friend end up singing Japan's national anthem; the singing leads to Papa crying, which is a pretty rare thing.
  • Jeanne later learns that Papa used to sing that song every morning as a schoolboy.
  • Narrator Jeanne even gives us a translation of the song, which is all about equating a country's peaceful reign to a huge rock covered with moss.
  • Are you kind of confused about that one? The moss is supposed to symbolize endurance, so it's a good thing.
  • In fact, when Papa was a kid, someone in his household would pour water over a stone lantern he owned so that it could grow a layer of moss.
  • He was told that the last line of the anthem refers to a type of moss that grows little white flowers.

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