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Obason, by Joy Kogawa Essay

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World War II was a time of great fear and distrust in this world’s history. There was great prejudice with a sense that betrayal could occur at any moment. This held most true for the Japanese. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese were greatly looked down upon due to an American fear of retaliation. In Joy Kogawa’s novel, Obason, the narrator is a young Japanese Canadian girl recalling her forced relocation to internment camps. It was a time filled with stereotypes and a great deal of prejudiced behavior. Kogawa makes great use of point of view, selection of detail, and figurative language in order to reflect to narrator’s naive attitude of her past.
Through her use of point of view, Kogawa is able to provide simple and clear details on the narrator’s experiences. Children are young and innocent which means they are often unaware to the horrors and evils existing in this world. Kogawa chooses to write the narrator as a young girl who is innocent in the world. This girl has no real understanding as to the happenings and details of her World War II surroundings. Even so the narrator is able to provide simple views on the events which speaks volumes for the scene. “The train smells of oil and soot and orange peels...the black soot leaps and settles like insects...a boy is trying to distract the kitten with his finger but the kitten mews and mews” (50-60). A child’s perspective allows readers to receive simplified versions of events without any adult biases to interfere with the world’s occurances. It gives a view of the world that has not yet been affected by adult hardships as well as makes these views pure. Innocent children are able to provide naive innocent truths. If the point of view was that of an adult there cou...


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...ced to experience much undeserved fear. In Joy Kogawa’s passage, Obasan, the narrator is from a child’s point of view. This provides simplified naive viewpoints yet also gives innocent unbiased truths. With strong diction, the speaker also reveals broken spirits that are unified in their silence. A child's opinion on this terrifying journey to imprisonment is truthfully able to reflect fear, strength, and judgment. Children have unmolded minds and therefore have pure thoughts not yet tainted by society’s prejudiced judgments. Kogawa reveals to the reader that prejudice is an evil that comes both from within and out a person and society. Through the prejudgment and misjudgment of others, lives can be hurt and easily torn apart. It is in times such as this when people come together, despite their fear, and find unrealized comfort in others who can connect with them.





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