Remaining Silent in Obasan by Joy Kogawa
In the novel Obasan, Kogawa uses Naomi’s narrative point of view to convey that one’s misfortunes, such as racism and abandonment, can take a toll on one’s identity which causes them to remain silent.
Throughout the book, Naomi experiences many traumatic events. She was just a little girl when she was molested by Old Man Gower. Though she knew what was being done to her was not right she chooses to remain silent. She believes being silent is what she’s supposed to do, that it’ll keep her safe, but all it does is create a deeper wound. “If I tell my mother about Mr. Gower the alarm will send a tremor through our bodies and I will be torn from her. But the secret has already separated us” (chapter 11). This text exhibits how being silent has made things worse. Instead of speaking up or talking to her mom, she must lie and continue to keep secrets.
In one of Naomi’s flashbacks, she conveys the common injustice many Japenese families faced. ” What a beauty,’ the RCMP officer said in 1941, when he saw it. He shouted as he sliced back through the wake, ‘what a beauty! What a beauty!’ That was the last Uncle saw of the boat,” (chapter 4). Not only was their way of making a living taken away from them but so was their identity of being professional working men. This injustice would occur without anyone batting an eye.
Near the start of the book Aunt Emily refers to Naomi being a “majime”, ‘Surely I cried sometimes,’ I said to Aunt Emily when she told me what a quiet child I’d been. She shook her head. ‘I can’t remember that you ever did. You never spoke. You never smiled. You were so ‘majime.’ What a serious baby.’ A majime is some who is diligent or in other words someone who does what they’re supposed/expected to do. Reading the novel I now understand as to why Aunt Emily referred to her as a majime. For example, when Naomi got the phone call of her uncle’s death she didn’t cry and remained silent. Instead, she thought about what to do next, which was to go to Obasan’s house and plan a funeral. Racism, sexual molestation, injustice, all misfortunes that she faced as a child caused her to remain silent. They come together to make up her identity as someone who grew up during the dark times of being a Japanese Canadian citizen.
Homer’s epic poem, The Odyssey, is about Odysseus and his long voyage home from the Trojan War. He had a very hard time getting home from Troy, Odysseus had disrespected […]
Pablo Picasso once said, “There are only two types of women – goddesses and doormats.” Picasso’s words are completely true in modern society, which often puts women in certain archetypes […]
Epic Hero or Epic Homecoming? Arguably one of the most famous poems centered around a homecoming, Homer’s The Odyssey tells the story of literature’s most famous veteran, Odysseus, and his […]
The Odyssey is a story about Odysseus return home, and the struggles he faces. Odysseus is a king who is deeply respected for his combat triumphs and heroism in the […]
When most people think of a hero, one thinks of a tall, muscular, and handsome being that could do no wrong. However, in the Odyssey, and even in real life, […]
The Odyssey is an epic poem that contains numerous themes that bring significance to the different characters. Odysseus is an Ancient Greek hero involved in the Trojan War. Two main […]
The ancient Greek spiritual beliefs, religion and tradition are all reflected through the myths and legends for the past two thousand years. The stories and myths consist of heroes and […]
Odysseus’s Craft in Phaiakia Just like a sculpture, Odysseus is chiseled and defined, and one could get lost within the intricacies of his mind. But how does he take a […]
After the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, Canada responded quickly by developing several concentration camps for Japanese civilians of any descent, including Canadians. The individuals at the camps were stripped […]
In the novel Obasan, Kogawa uses Naomi’s narrative point of view to convey that one’s misfortunes, such as racism and abandonment, can take a toll on one’s identity which causes […]