Study Guide

Obasan Plot Analysis

By Joy Kogawa

Plot Analysis

(Exposition) Initial Situation

It's Miss Nah-Canny to You, Buster

Naomi Nakane is your everyday schoolteacher. She's also Japanese-Canadian. She lives a normal life: she has an Uncle, an aunt named Emily, and another aunt called Obasan ("obasan" means "aunt" in Japanese). Pretty normal stuff. There's just one thing that bothers her sometimes: she doesn't know what happened to her mother…

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

The Worst Phone Call

Just as we're getting settled, there's a phone call. Uncle has died. That one little phone call leads to Naomi going to visit her Aunt, which leads to her remembering a lot of things she would rather have not remembered, which leads to… the plot getting interesting.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

The Mailman Was a Little Late

After paragraphs, pages, and chapters full of wondering what happened to Naomi's mom we finally get the answer: she died in the bombing of Nagasaki. This is so terrible that it makes everyone sick when they listen to the letter describing the events of the bombing. Yeah, it's gruesome, and totally heartbreaking.

Falling Action

Listening to Her Mother's Voice

Naomi doesn't know what to do with this information at first, but then she makes her peace. She can finally stop asking questions. It's like after all of these years she's reconciled with her mom, and they are a loving family again. The main problem of the novel is getting wrapped up, don't you think?


It's Like the Sea

Naomi goes to Uncle's favorite valley, partially to mourn his death and partially to celebrate his life. She admires the beauty of the land and smells the flowers. That's it. There's nothing more to do.