Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Part I, Chapter 9

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Part I, Chapter 9

The Mess Hall Bells

  • Papa never talks about his time at Fort Lincoln.
  • The thing is, what happens to him—a total emasculation—is what happens to all the men in the camps, only to a more extreme degree.
  • Jeanne's prepping us for something major: her account of the December Riot.
  • Before the December Riot, everyone's kind of on edge from being treated like animals.
  • Meetings are held constantly so that people can vent their frustrations, which means the mess halls are constantly ringing their bells to signal meetings.
  • On the night of December 5, this guy Fred Tayama, whom everyone thinks is a friend of the administration, gets badly beaten by six guys.
  • One of the guys—a cook who's been trying to unionize the kitchen workers and who claims a Caucasian has been stealing sugar from the kitchens—gets caught.
  • This starts the riot. People are seriously mad that the cook got taken in.
  • Papa keeps Jeanne and the rest of the family with him in the barracks throughout the whole ordeal because he thinks the whole thing is both dangerous and stupid.
  • The leader of the riot—Joe Kurihara—used to fight for the U.S. army in WWI, and he's not putting up with this treatment anymore; under his leadership the mob gets to be too much for the Internal Security Force.
  • The mob splits in two, with one half going to free the cook and the other half going to kill Tayama.
  • When the mob gets to the police station, the military start bringing in their big guns—think tear gas and submachine guns.
  • In the end, the military police open fire, injuring a bunch of people and killing two young men; through the night, bells toll constantly while the police patroll the blocks.
  • Even after the night passes and the police have stopped patrolling, the bells keep ringing. They don't stop until noon the next day.