Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Community

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

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What kind of community can come out of a prison environment? No, this isn't coming from an episode of Orange is the New Black—it's a major concern and reality for the characters in Farewell to Manzanar. The lesson that this story of Japanese-American internment gives us is that communities created under lock-and-key are both incredibly supportive and incredibly destructive. Kind of like going home for the holidays, but with the drama turned up to eleven.

Questions About Community

  1. What are some examples of how supportive and how destructive the communities in Manzanar are? Why do you think Manzanar is able to produce these types of communities?
  2. What kinds of new alliances opened up in Manzanar? Could they survive outside of Manzanar?
  3. Compare the communities on Terminal Island and in the Cabrillo Housing Project. How are they different and how are they similar? Which would be the better community for a young Japanese-American girl like Jeanne to grow up in?
  4. Do any of the different communities found in the book serve as a solid substitute for family, especially one as dysfunctional as the Wakatsuki clan?

Chew on This

They say it takes a village to raise a kid, so it was actually a benefit for kids to be raised in Manzanar.

Your surrounding community can be better for you than your own family.

Farewell to Manzanar Community Study Group

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