Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Part II, Chapter 16

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Part II, Chapter 16

Free to Go

  • What's going to happen to the internees?
  • The answers start to come through a major Supreme Court case called Ex Parte Endo, the last of three key cases about the camps.
  • The first case was about a Nisei student from U of Washington—Gordon Hirabayashi—who challenged the evacuation order and violated the curfew that all West Coast Japanese had to follow back in 1942.
  • Hirabayashi lost because the Court called curfew a wartime necessity, choosing to uphold the curfew while avoiding the larger issue of the evacuation.
  • The second case concerned Fred Korematsu, a Nisei man from Oakland who didn't evacuate and stayed instead with his white girlfriend.
  • When the FBI found him, he challenged them in court by calling them racist. Why weren't any German-Americans or Italian-Americans evacuated? Weren't Germany and Italy enemies of the state too?
  • No dice for Korematsu either though, and the Court upheld the evacuation order anyway.
  • The last case pertained to Mitsue Endo, a twenty-one-year-old Nisei woman who filed a petition for habeas corpus, stating that loyal citizens can't be detained by the government against their will.
  • This case kind of sticks.
  • The army already kind of thinks it's not going to win the last case so the mass exclusion orders given in 1942 get rescinded; they also announce that all the camps will be closed in the next year and that internees could return home.
  • Good news, right?
  • Well… not so fast.
  • Jeanne's family is far from happy.
  • There's no home for them to return to after all, plus super racist anti-Japanese propaganda has been circulating all over the West Coast for the last three years (bad news: Dr. Seuss was part of this campaign).
  • All sorts of racist, anti-Japanese groups have sprung up all over the coast, including growers's associations that banded together to prevent farmland from reverting back to Japanese farmers upon their return.
  • It isn't a very friendly world to re-enter on a number of levels, so it's no wonder that a lot of internees would rather stay where they are. At least they know what they're getting at Manzanar.
  • Some people are already leaving and trying to get their homes and farmland back, and the reports from them aren't good: a Nisei man is assaulted in Seattle; a house burns down in San Jose; there are drive-by shootings.
  • One of Jeanne's sisters and her husband get a police escort back to Los Angeles for their protection.
  • All these stories are tough on young Jeanne because she thinks of outside camp as the place where all good things come from—things like dried apricots (which she prays to God for but which never come).
  • Anyway, Jeanne's not so worried about physical violence—it isn't something she can imagine happening to her family—but she is pretty worried about humiliation. It isn't something she or her parents can stand.
  • Even though her older siblings are more concerned about violence, this fear isn't holding them back—they want out big time.
  • A stream of Jeanne's siblings trickle out of the camps and move to the East Coast (New Jersey specifically) because there really isn't a huge Asian population there or a long history of anti-Asian resentment.
  • The idea is that Jeanne and her parents will head to New Jersey too, but everyone knows that isn't really going to happen—Papa's too old to start over in a new place.
  • Narrator Jeanne tells us it's a lot like the situation with some black slaves who were freed after the Civil War: Not knowing what to do with themselves or where to go, those slaves just returned to the plantation out of habit and fear of change.