Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Family

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Family

This book is all about putting family first, even when family is a code word for patriarch or father. But since the father in this book is deeply flawed, the major issue for Farewell to Manzanar readers has to be whether or not family first is a value worth hanging on to.

Questions About Family

  1. Is this book ultimately too conservative when it comes to family values? Is that conservatism too limiting for the characters in the book, or is the focus on family the book's greatest strength?
  2. Internment screws up the typical Japanese family unit. But could that be a good thing? Are there benefits to camp life's influence on the family unit?
  3. Who's the true head of the Wakatsuki clan—Mama, Papa, Woody? Maybe even Jeanne?
  4. Is marrying out of one's race a betrayal of family values in this book, or does it actually uphold the concept of family?

Chew on This

Internment actually liberates Japanese-Americans from an overly intense focus on the family.

Internment fundamentally screws up the Wakatsuki clan so that it can never be a strong family again.