Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Part I, Chapter 4

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Part I, Chapter 4

A Common Master Plan

  • Here's what camp life is like: bare floors, blankets for walls, a lone bare bulb for lighting, and absolutely no privacy.
  • The truth? Camp wasn't ready for people to be moved in. Stay classy, United States government.
  • Barracks are still being built; campers had not packed for the cold winds; people have continual diarrhea from eating spoiled food…
  • It's pure chaos at pretty much every turn, and it takes several months for things to settle down.
  • But before things settle down, there are things like the women's bathroom stalls to contend with.
  • Think: bad pipes and lots of poop. Not a good combination.
  • Oh—and the stalls don't have any privacy.
  • The first time they go to the bathroom, Jeanne's mother lucks out because an old woman loans her a cardboard box as a privacy screen.
  • Adult Jeanne tells us that her mother is like most Japanese people: on one hand, they're willing to suck it up in order to be cooperative; but on the other hand, they really need their privacy (especially in crowded, small places).
  • That's why living in the camp is constantly like "an open insult to that other, private self" (19).