Study Help Essay Questions


1. Compare the speaker's wartime deprivations and confinement with those depicted in The Diary of Anne Frank, Ernst Schnabel's Anne Frank: A Portrait in Courage, Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place, Esther Hautzig's The Endless Steppe, Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five, Max Garcia's As Long As I Remain Alive, Everett Alvarez, Jr.'s Chained Eagle, and Elie Wiesel's Night. Enumerate characteristics which enable victims to remain alive and later recover from trauma.

2. Compare the speaker's response to racial prejudice with that of the speakers in Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Bernard Malamud's The Fixer, Scott Momaday's The Way to Rainy Mountain, Chinua Achebe's Things Fall Apart, Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, Theodora Kroeber's Ishi, Toni Morrison's Beloved, and Yoko Watkins' So Far From the Bamboo Grove.

3. Discuss whether the speaker approaches her wartime experience from the point of view of adulthood or childhood memories. Explain why she departs from first-person point of view to include the memories of other internees, particularly Kaz at the chlorine shed, Ko at Fort Lincoln, and Woody in Ka-ke.

4. Account for the time span between Jeanne Houston's departure from Manzanar and her return to confront old ghosts and sad memories. Reconcile her years of silence with current studies of trauma syndrome. Why does the author compare herself to rape victims?

5. Using Farewell to Manzanar as a model, compose extended definitions of memoir, autobiography, haiku, dialogue, Electra complex, saga, and bildungsroman.

6. Compare the speaker's anti-war sentiments with those of Francis FitzGerald's Fire in the Lake, Dee Brown's Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee or Creek Mary's Blood, Joseph Heller's Catch-22, Eric Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front, John Hersey's Hiroshima, Galt MacDermott, Gerome Ragni, and James Rado's Hair, or Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun.

7. Create a background study of refugees in literature as found in Pearl Buck's The Good Earth, Maxine Hong Kingston's The Woman Warrior, John Hersey's Hiroshima, Kurt Vonnegut's "D.P.," Chung Hua-min and Arthur C. Miller's Madame Mao, and James and Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston's Farewell to Manzanar.

8. Compare the speaker's depiction of wartime upheaval with similar themes in films such as Plenty, Sayonara, From Here to Eternity, Shining Through, and Stalag 17. Emphasize the emotional and spiritual accommodations to trauma which enable people to survive.

9. Analyze President Franklin Roosevelt's Order 9066, which caused the illegal detention of Asian-Americans. What historical and political pressures forced his decision to confine citizens without compensating them for their losses? What subsequent revelations caused the government to rescind the order?

10. Read the war poems that evolved from World War II, particularly Randall Jarrell's "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" and Yevgeny Yevtushenko's "Baba Yar." Contrast these poets' attitudes to those of Jeanne, her parents and grandparents, and her siblings, especially Woody.

11. Contrast the wording of the Bill of Rights with the strictures of Executive Order 9066. Determine whether President Roosevelt's decision to intern Japanese Americans was legal and warranted. Make a similar comparison of Executive Order 9066 with the Emancipation Proclamation.

12. Jeanne quotes her mother as saying, "Nurture your children and your family with love and emotional support. Accept change if it means protecting your loved ones." Apply this philosophy to the task of surviving internment.

13. Apply Ko's philosophy to Japanese-American cohesiveness: "Race must not be pitted against race. We do not raise ourselves at the expense of others. Through co-operation we advance together as human beings."

14. Suggest alterations in the Houstons' working method, style, and tone. For example, explore a multiple point of view through the words of other family members, teachers, guards, and civil defense authorities.

15. Comment on President Franklin Roosevelt's speech delivered December 8, 1941, in which he said, " . . . we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us. Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger."

16. Discuss why Jeanne is more suited to ballet and baton twirling than to the odori dance that arose from traditional Japanese kabuki drama.

17. Contrast the focus of the Japanese national anthem with "Le Marseillaise," "Deutschland Über Alles," "God Save the Queen," and "The Star-Spangled Banner." What does the theme of endurance say about Japanese nationalism?

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