Rhetorical Analysis Of Houston’s Farewell To Manzanar

November 8, 2021 by Essay Writer

Though it was supposed to be a time where people were celebrating equality and equal rights, the 1970s were a time where racial injustices were still occurring on a daily basis. Some, like author’s Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, would even compare it to the time prefacing World War Two as “After Pearl Harbor was bombed and the United States entered World War II, the FBI declared all Japanese Americans, German Americans, and Italian Americans to be ‘dangerous enemy aliens.’ The government arrested and detained people on a daily basis” (Marsala). Though the United States did not intern people in the 1970s, the racism seen targeting other minority groups such as African Americans, women, Asian Americans and others was very comparable to the racism seen in the 1940’s prefacing the Japanese internment. One is able to see the demonstrated racism throughout all of World War Two, but specific evidence such as a bill passed by President Roosevelt in 1942 is a direct example. The bill legally allowed the United States government to hold and detain citizens of questionable actions and “Although the word Japanese did not appear in the executive order, it was clear that only Japanese Americans were targeted…” (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica). The rounding up of innocent Americans took effect as the United States government believed that Japanese—but also German and Italian—citizens had spies living within the United States. Citizens “were transported inland to the internment camps (critics of the term internment argue that these facilities should be called prison camps). The first internment camp in operation was Manzanar, located in southern California” where the Wakatsuki family was held captive. (The Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica). Through this holding, Jeanne and her family went through physical and mental traumas that would stick with the family for the rest of their lives. Not allowed to continue with their normal lives or leave the camp, these families endured the worst suffering, the separation from their father, even though he did no wrong.

In the preface of the memoir, the authors are able to appeal to the ethics of goodsense by giving a brief outline of Jeanne’s life, leading readers to see that she is a credible source to listen to. They begin with writing about Jeanne’s racial background and family life before the internment began. Soon after though, the authors recognize the fact that “her father was arrested because his seafaring activities were regarded as suspicious by military authorities looking for spies feeding information to the Imperial Japanese Navy” (Houston and Houston 715). Through the point that Jeanne is a Japanese American and she has dealt with discrimination in the past, it allows the authors to make themselves a more credible source to talk about discrimination and social injustices. Along with this, the authors use details from Jeanne’s life to talk about her unfortunate circumstances and the reasoning as to why the authors wrote the memoir. Wanting to prevent any further discrimination akin to how her family was discriminated against in the 1940’s, the Houston’s write the memoir to demonstrate the severe mental trauma that discrimination can lead to. The Houston’s further establishes their goodsense with audience members as they detail specific events that happened within the internment camps, as in the areas the families were forced to live in, the traditions surrounding Christmas time and the leaders who took charge of the camp. Thus, they create an understanding between readers and the author’s that Jeanne understands the barrier of social injustice because she is always fighting it along with the audience.

The Houston’s also use logical appeals to demonstrate to the listeners that as authors they want the best for those who are impacted within their audience and that pulling from specific examples, or induction, they are able to demonstrate the destruction of the minority groups due to racism. The authors utilize the memoir as a message to clue in readers of the trauma endured in the camps and they pull from specific examples in Jeanne’s life to demonstrate the racism that she experienced. Moments like the discussion of “Yes Yes No No” (Houston and Houston 723) and the description of “the Nikkei community to the attack on Pearl Harbor and life in the relocation camps” mention the mental problems that many people suffered throughout the camp, and after they exited (Houston and Houston 715). The authors use this specific example of what happened inside of the internment camps to persuade the audience of the discrimination argument placed before them, and for the message to carry through the modern era. Using examples such as Yes Yes No No demonstrate to the audience that the authors are picking certain points from Jeanne’s past to push forward their argument. The family not having faced this amount of discrimination before left both the Wakatsuki family along with the entire community in shock as the Japanese Americans were treated as less than human.

Throughout the author’s memoir, they implement the genre of forensic rhetoric as both are looking back on the past to determine what happened throughout the family’s internment. The authors wrote the memoir over 30 years after the horrors of the Japanese Internment occurred, taking a look into the past and the social injustices that took place. This can be seen through the continued use of past tense, and quotes such as: “After the war, Wakatsuki Houston…and her husband wrote Farewell to Manzanar about her internment experience…” placing the memoir on a timeline in the 1940’s (Houston and Houston 715). Through the preface, one learns that Jeanne was one of the interned Japanese Americans living through this traumatic event, giving her and her husband a strong base to look back on this case. The memoir utilizes a strong example of forensic rhetoric as it reviews the past and makes a judgement on the injustices that each interned family and discriminated against person faced. Forensic rhetoric allows readers to connect with the authors, and to understand the writers perspective and judgement on the pressing issue.

The last rhetorical appeal that the authors of Farewell to Manzanar utilize to connect with audience members of the 1970s is pathetic appeals, specifically emotive. Though there are many examples of emotions throughout the text, the one that sticks out the most is sympathy. The authors utilize moments of fear to attain the audience’s sympathy through moments that the audience members can connect with: “He yelled and shook his fists and his very threats forced her across the cluttered room until she collided with one of the steel bed frames and fell back onto a mattress…‘Kill me then. I don’t care. I just don’t care’” (Houston and Houston 719-720). Whether it is the shaking fists of Jeanne’s father or her mother’s plea to die, the audience is able to comprehend the mental trauma that internment and racism lead to. Wanting nothing more than to die, audience members are able to sympathize with Jeanne’s mother and realize how detrimental racism and discrimination can be. A woman who before the internment was happy, now has nothing left – a feeling that many others who were discriminated against can relate to. Bringing it back to the audience, the writers utilize a sympathy card, in an effort for readers to connect with Jeanne’s mother and the racism that she has endured.

Throughout the memoir Farewell to Manzanar, authors Houston and Houston use the rhetorical styles of ethos, logos and pathos along with forensic rhetoric to address the memoir in its entirety. Through ethos, the authors make themselves credible by utilizing goodsense and talking about Jeanne’s history with internment demonstrating that the authors are both credible and reliable sources. Utilizing logos, the authors describe specific moments through the family’s internment to persuade the audience of their argument and to push their argument forward into the world. Along with the other two methods, the authors use forensic rhetoric as a look into the past and the injustices that the Wakatsuki family endured, along with the injustices that all minority groups suffered through at the time of the Japanese internment and through the social injustices of the 1970s. The authors finish with pathos, specifically emotions, to evoke sympathy and fear from the audience, and to connect with the modern detrimental problems associated with racism. This emotion allows the audience to sympathize with not only the families of the interned, but also those belonging to minority groups of the 1970s who are still being discriminated against. All of the methods come together to push forward the ideas of the authors: the racial injustice and the horrors of the 1970s that compare closely to the 1940s when Japanese internment was a burning issue.

The uses of rhetoric allow the authors to tear apart the social aspects of the 1970s in a comparative matter to the 1940’s where minority groups were also treated with complete injustice. Using rhetorical statements and examples, the authors are able to identify the problems that people of the 1970s are dealing with. Though there were bills and laws just passed to get rid of discrimination, it was a prevalent issue that was not being fixed. Through writing, the authors are able to demonstrate the problems of the government and with the citizens of the United States. While the authors of Farewell to Manzanar wanted to push forward Jeanne’s story of internment with her family, they also argued for the justice of all minority groups and that everyone is equal. Though one may feel that a piece like this is directed solely at minority groups, it was a call to action for all citizens of the United States to stand against racism and to make a point to the government that these methods will not be accepted any longer. At a time when human rights were unstable in the United States, a memoir like this is able to push forward the movement and call all citizens to action, something that should have been done long before the memoir was even written.

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