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Essay about Obasan, by Joy Kogawa

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Many if not most, considered World War II the most atrocious act of all time. It was viewed as a war of beliefs and ideals. One side, vouching for domination, while another for freedom; One slaughtering and discriminating due to nationality, race, and religion; the other fighting for freedom, sovereignty, and peace. In reality, the war was not as black and white as that. Though the Axis Powers committed heinous crimes against humanity (I.E Holocaust, Murder of millions, Attempt at world domination etc.), the allies also had their own dark moments. Joy Kogawa displays the horrors of the allies’ dark side accurately in the book “Obasan”. The book talks about the impact of a loathing society and internment on Japanese-Canadians during and after World War II. A Japanese woman named Naomi narrates the book, and recalls the horrors that befell her and her family. The book affirms that the internment of Japanese-Canadians during and after World War II didn’t just restrict them physically, but also had deep psychological and economic impacts.
The most obvious barriers that were put on the Japanese were the physical restrictions. The efforts of the People and the Canadian Government, to separate the Japanese-Canadians from the rest of the people were swift, and aggressive. Due to:
“Japan's entry into World War II on December 7th, 1941. Japanese Canadians were removed from the West Coast. “Military necessity” was used as a justification for their mass removal and incarceration despite the fact that senior members of Canada's military and the RCMP had opposed the action, arguing that Japanese Canadians posed no threat to security. And yet the exclusion from the west coast was to continue for four more years until 1949” (Japanese Canadian H...


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...of emotional, physical, and financial trauma and hardship that befell the Japanese.
The damage from the past may have been done; we may have tried to correct our mistakes. Criminals of war may have been persecuted for their wrongdoings. Apologies and reimbursements may have been endowed to the victims, but does it change anything? There will always be unforgettable trauma that will be left with the victims. As long as humanity exists and continues the way it is, or was, conflict will always occur. It will always occur due to society’s clash in beliefs as stated in paragraphs above. If we as humanity wish to stop inflicting such malice upon our brethren, we will first have to learn to not just tolerate, but also to embrace one another. But when it is all said and done, can we stop the harm that causes such physical, and mental trauma that was presented in Obasan?



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