Canadian Multiculturalism And Japanese-Canadian Internment, By Joy Kogawa

865 Words 4 Pages
Written in 1981, Obasan explores the negative treatment Japanese-Canadians experienced in the internment camps during World War Two. Kogawa uses three women (Obasan, Aunt Emily, and Naomi) to illustrate the perspectives that the different generations have in regards to Canadian multiculturalism and how it relates to Japanese-Canadians. In the article “Joy Kogawa’s Obasan: Canadian multiculturalism and Japanese-Canadian Internment”, the author Laura K. Davis examines Obasan through a lens focusing on Canada’s evolution regarding racism and the laws that were developed during the time period that Obasan was written. Through Davis’ lens of Japanese-Canadian internment, Kogawa uses silence to demonstrate the lack of perceived progress into multiculturalism. …show more content…
Davis takes an interest in how the novel lines up with the historical events of multiculturalism in Canada and the treatment of minorities during that time period. Davis notes that Obasan was “published in 1981, one year prior to the year multiculturalism was written into the Canadian Charter of Rights, and it takes place in 1972, just one year after multiculturalism was first introduced by Prime Minister Trudeau” (61). Through the package that Aunt Emily sent that was filled with correspondence and tokens from that time, although fiction, we are able to get a glimpse into the experiences and hardships of Japanese-Canadians during that period. When faced with the newspaper clipping with the caption “Grinning and Happy”, Naomi reacts by voicing her negative feelings towards Aunt Emily and her need to reflect on the past, “Or are you thinking that through lobbying and legislation, speech-making and story telling, we can extricate ourselves from our foolish ways? Is there evidence for optimism?” (Kogawa 178). Naomi is quick to argue that no matter how much energy is used to advocate for equality of minorities, history will repeat itself, and there is nothing anyone can do about

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