Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Part I, Chapter 6

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

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Part I, Chapter 6

Whatever He Did Had Flourish

  • About that cane: Papa made it himself while he was in North Dakota.
  • In fact, he's so proud of his cane that he uses it even after he doesn't need it anymore.
  • Jeanne sees it as his version of a sad, samurai sword—kind of like a sign of how his life ends in the camps.
  • What else about her father?
  • He is the eldest son in a family that comes from the samurai class—a major deal in Japanese culture—and the rest of his family is super-distinguished.
  • He was supposed to join the navy, but dropped out and moved to America (Hawaii to be exact) instead.
  • Not wanting to work the sugarcane fields like all the other immigrant workers, he picked up a job in Idaho as a houseboy for a lawyer.
  • The lawyer got him into the University of Idaho for law, but he didn't stick with it; instead he met Jeanne's mom.
  • Jeanne's mom's family tried to keep her away from him—he was the classic bad boy—but they totally failed and, as we know, they end up married and having kids every couple of years.
  • They also move around a lot, from the Midwest to Washington to Oregon to California.
  • Papa picks up all sorts of jobs and brags about his law education, but the truth is that he can't stick to anything and just wants to find a shortcut to wealth.
  • Eventually, he becomes a fisherman and does pretty well at it.
  • Jeanne's standout memory of her father is on her parents' silver wedding anniversary.
  • They throw a big party with a huge spread; her parents, especially her father, are dressed to the nines.
  • There's even a whole, roasting pig that he carves up and tells the girls to serve to all the hungry guests.
  • That's how Jeanne likes to remember her father before he "disappears," turning into a "poser, a braggart, and a tyrant" (28).
  • At Fort Lincoln—where he worked as a translator for the government and helped interview other Isseis—all the men knew him because everything he did had "flourish" (29).
  • He also got frostbite there and almost became an alcoholic—both things that he never wanted to talk about.

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