Study Guide

Farewell to Manzanar Women and Femininity

By Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston

Women and Femininity

Reading Farewell to Manzanar is like getting a crash course in 1940s Japanese-American womanhood, with an emphasis on the hyphen. You get accounts of super-traditional Japanese ways of creating femininity, and you also get accounts of super-traditional American ways of creating femininity. How these two things balance and clash in the body of a growing Japanese-American girl becomes a major focal point of the book. And let's just put it this way: neither side really wins Jeanne over.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. How are Japanese models of femininity similar to traditional models of American femininity in the book? How are they different? Are they more different than similar or vice versa?
  2. Does adult Jeanne favor white ideals of beauty or is she more balanced in her approach to female beauty?
  3. Is there a feminist in the book? If not, why? If yes, who would that feminist be and why? What might feminism mean in this book?
  4. How does internment affect Jeanne's understanding of herself as a female? Does it give her opportunities to expand herself as girl or does camp shut her down?

Chew on This

Internment makes women in the book stronger and more resilient than men.

Japanese-American women come out of camp confused about their identity.