Critical essay no-no boy


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John Okada’s No-No Boy Essay

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Japanese vs. American Identity. He regrets refusing to go into the army two years previously. He thinks that now the best thing for him would be to kill someone and return to prison. After his internment, Ichiro was sent to prison for refusing the draft.

No-No Boy Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis from LitCharts | The creators of SparkNotes

Related Quotes with Explanations. A young man in military fatigues crosses the street towards Ichiro. He recognizes him as Eto Minato. Ichiro tries to avoid him but Eto chases him down, calling him by his nickname, Itchy, and reintroducing himself. However, when Eto realizes that Ichiro was not in the army, his demeanor shifts and he becomes angry. He remembers that Ichiro was a no-no boy. He spits on him, and threatens to pee on him the next time they meet.

However, when he realizes his mistake he turns against Ichiro. Eto, a veteran, sees Ichiro as a threat to his own American assimilation. Ichiro is a hopeless and pessimistic character at this point—he regrets his decision to choose Japan over America, and understands why he is discriminated against. He believes he made the wrong choice, and accepts that his life will be worse because of it forever.

Download it! Although in the s African American people were still heavily discriminated against both culturally and legally, this sense of oppression does not motivate these men to treat Ichiro, the member of another oppressed group, with any empathy. Ichiro makes it to his new home—a grocery store his parents have purchased since leaving the internment camp. Ichiro was not born in Japan and speaks little Japanese.

Meanwhile, his parents were born in Japan and speak mostly Japanese. Although Ichiro deals with discrimination because he appears Japanese, he does not even have the benefit of feeling like he belongs to Japanese culture at all. Family and Generational Divides. Yamada greets his son happily. This is common in mixed-generation immigrant families, the narrator says. Yamada has gone to the bakery to buy bread, and Ichiro argues with his father that this is a waste of time and money.

They eventually cool down, sitting down in the back of the shop to talk. Ichiro and his parents are almost from different worlds. His parents are first-generation immigrants who intend to return to Japan, their true home. Ichiro was raised by his parents, who instilled in him their values, but he has no connection to Japan, and is as American as he is Japanese—which in this divisive society seems to mean he cannot be fully either. Yamada comes home. She tells Ichiro she is proud to call him her son.

Ichiro understands that what she is really saying is that she is glad that she influenced him so powerfully as a child, instilling in him a Japanese identity that prevented him from enlisting in the American army.

A short insight into the conflicts in John Okada’s No-No Boy

Yamada remains loyal to Japan. America is not her home, but a temporary layover on her return to the country she loves. She loves Ichiro not for who he is as a person, but because she believes he is just like her—Japanese through and through. Ichiro feels bitterness towards Mrs.

Yamada , even as he works to understand her. While Mrs. Ichiro retreats to the bedroom and flings himself into bed, chain-smoking and thinking. He blames Mrs. Yamada raised Ichiro to be Japanese, refusing to accept any part of her son that could be seen as American.

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However, living his life in America, Ichiro feels cursed by an inability to fully assimilate, as he is still tied to Japan by his mother. Yamada comes to fetch Ichiro for lunch. The family does not speak as they eat. The U. These bombs, in addition to a more conventional military invasion, led to massive destruction of the country and its infrastructure. Yamada refuses to accept that this is true, instead preferring to believe that her home country remains pristine and victorious, waiting for her return.

Yamada shows Ichiro a letter sent from Sao Paulo, ostensibly from the Japanese government, that claims it is sending ships to collect loyal Japanese people living around the world. Yamada feels abandoned and alone in America. It is difficult for her to imagine that she will spend the rest of her life in a country she does not love, and instead invests in a fantasy that she has not been abandoned by her government—that Japan won the war, and that she will be able to return.

She assures him that his doubts will disappear, because he is her son. Although he says nothing, Ichiro thinks to himself that he is no longer her son. He feels he is only half Japanese, because he was born in America and has lived among American culture and American people for so long. His connection to his mother guaranteed he would never become fully American, and he resents that his loyalty to her made him feel too Japanese to enlist.

No No Boy, the play

Yamada believes that her oldest son is exactly like her. She thinks that, because he rejected the draft, he has the same unwavering loyalty to Japan, and the same confidence in its ability to come out of the war unscathed. Ichiro, however, is only half like his mother.


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  • He is also half American, and remains conflicted and torn. Ichiro continues his internal monologue. He asserts that he is not Mrs. For this he blames a world in which countries fight each other, he blames his mother, and he blames himself. His mother is responsible for making him feel Japanese, but he also takes responsibility for listening to her. Upset, Ichiro goes to sleep. The next morning, his younger brother shakes him awake. Taro is uninterested in talking to Ichiro, who tries to engage him anyway.

    Taro tells Ichiro he plans to go to the army after high school. Although Taro does not say it explicitly, Ichiro understands that Taro feels compelled to enlist because Ichiro did and could not. Ichiro feels torn between American and Japanese identities, but Taro feels fully American.

    Taro , Ichiro , Mrs. Yamada , and Mr. Yamada eat in silence. Taro eats quickly and leaves. Ichiro wonders if his parents can do anything about this. Although Mr.

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