Essay What's in a Name?

1093 Words 5 Pages
Approximately, 17,000 Americans each year feel that the name they were given does not match their identity. The name a person is given is who they are, it is a way for the world to acknowledge them. At the start of World War II, the American government took a series of drastic measures aiming at Japanese Americans in the U.S., all Japanese Americans, no matter who they were, adults, women, or children, had been suspected spies. More than 120,000 Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps. This essay aims to study the comparison of the named and nameless characters in When the Emperor was Divine, through the analysis of their loss of identity. This analysis will also vividly show the suffering of the Japanese Americans during …show more content…
For example, when the mother and children come back from the interment camp, they find that everything is changed and their Japanese identities may cause trouble for them. So the children say like this:
We would change our names to sound more like theirs. And if our mother called out to us on the street by our real names we would turn away and pretend not to know her. We would never be mistaken for the enemy again! (Otsuka,114)
From what is above, we find although the children have their own Japanese names, but they cannot use them because that may cause trouble for them. As to the relationship between name and identity, Seeman argues: “Identity, though complex, can be encoded in a name.”(Seeman, 1 paragraph) In other words, the name is the most obvious symbol of the identity. Through this arrangement of the author, readers can realize the Japanese hardships in the U.S during World War II.
In the next section, the analysis of the named characters is given. It is interesting to analyze the reason why so many unimportant characters in the novel have names. The first example is at the beginning of the novel when the mother buys a bucket in the store.
"Thank you, Joe." Then the door slammed behind her and she was alone on the sidewalk and she realized that in all the years she had been going to Joe Lundy's store she had never before called him by his name. Joe. It sounded strange to her. (Otsuka, 6)

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