Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Men and Masculinity

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Men and Masculinity

It's so misleading. You read that Farewell to Manzanar is an autobiography written by a woman who went through internment, so you figure that the book is going to be all about a Japanese-American girl's experiences at Manzanar. And while you do get that story, the book is actually so much more about how internment affected the lives of Japanese-American men, especially the writer's father. So what you actually get is a really in-depth look at how Japanese-American masculinity develops (or doesn't develop) under internment.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. The narrator calls camp life emasculating for the men. Is that true, or can camp life empower men as well?
  2. How does the relationship between Papa and Jeanne compare to the relationship between Papa and Woody? Who would you say is Papa closer to? Who is more like Papa?
  3. What is the purpose of Woody's character in the book? What kind of masculinity does he present to us?
  4. Is Papa's reliance on old-world Japanese values empowering for his masculine identity or are they disabling?

Chew on This

There's no excuse for Papa: his emasculation is a result of his own character flaws, not his internment.

Internment makes it impossible for Issei men to be men.