Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Part II, Chapter 17

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Part II, Chapter 17

It's All Starting Over

  • In June, the schools close for good, and during the summer they start to shut down the farm outside of camp.
  • Then a hard date is announced: everyone needs to be out by December 1.
  • Internees can either go voluntarily or the government can schedule the departure in weekly quotas.
  • If scheduled, the government will pay your way to whatever city you decided to return to; otherwise the government will just return you to your old community.
  • Papa leaves things up to the schedule. What's the point, right?
  • In 1943, a law passes making it illegal for Issei to hold commercial fishing licenses, plus he knows his boats and nets are all gone… So there go his job prospects.
  • Instead, Papa sits and reads the papers out loud to Mama and Granny.
  • The news is frustrating though (some things never change)—there's nowhere for returning internees to live so people are being placed in trailers and huts.
  • The stress and anxiety gets to Jeanne's parents, who fight (as usual).
  • But it's not as bad as before.
  • For example, Papa massages his wife's shoulders when she complains—after a fight—of a major knot.
  • Papa also has a bright idea: create a co-op for returners.
  • Since lots of people don't have homes or jobs to return to, why not group together, get a loan from the feds to buy some land, and build their own houses?
  • He's already put his idea together in a statement for the camp leaders to present to the feds…
  • And then the atomic bomb drops on Hiroshima on August 6.
  • That ends all hope of any extended stays in camp because camp is definitely ending now.
  • Even though people are celebrating the end of the war, Papa isn't. He sits and smokes and broods because the reality of things is this: his kids are scattered all over the country, he has no job or home to return to, and he may not even have remaining family back in Japan anymore.
  • By the time October rolls around and Jeanne and her parents leave camp, some two thousand people are still at camp, waiting to leave but also hoping that time never comes.

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