Study Guide

Heart of a Samurai Identity

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Identity is usually something that's in flux in coming-of-age novels, but in Heart of a Samurai, the protagonist's core identity is actually pretty constant. Identity for Manjiro is closely linked to his strong principles, so it's something that he uses to help him ride out all the worldly changes he goes through. There's still a little bit of a split or double identity since Manjiro has to straddle Japanese and American culture, but he isn't as conflicted as other immigrant characters might be, perhaps because his ultimate goal is still to go back to Japan and be Japanese—just with an American twist.

Questions About Identity

  1. How does nationalism affect Manjiro's identity?
  2. What principles guide Manjiro to form his identity?
  3. Does Manjiro's identity change significantly from beginning to end?
  4. How does America influence Manjiro's sense of self?

Chew on This

Everyone has multiple identities; there's no such thing as one, stable identity.

An identity doesn't have to constantly change for a teenager; it is possible to have one stable identity.

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