Study Guide

Mr. Lee in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

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Mr. Lee

Henry's father is definitely a strong traditionalist and a tough guy. He expects his wife and son to obey him completely, and he gets really mad when he learns that Henry is friends with a Japanese girl. How mad? He disowns his son and refuses to talk to him anymore in order to teach him a lesson. Yikes. When Henry asks his mother why his father is so frustratingly intransigent, she explains that he had a tough time growing up:

"I don't know how to tell you so it makes sense. You were born here. You're American. Where your father comes from, it was nothing but war. War with Japan. They invaded northern China, killing many people. Not just soldiers but women and children, the old and the sick. Your father, he grew up this way. He saw this happen to his own family." (26.21)

Because Henry's father grew up in a time of war and watched the Japanese attack his people, he refuses to side with Japanese Americans during World War II and has no compassion for Keiko and her family. This leads to a huge rift in his relationship with Henry, but his stubbornness and beliefs are more important to him than a relationship with his son.

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