All No Boy By John Okada

1246 Words5 Pages
What does it mean to be American? Do you have to be born in the country or just hold loyalty in your heart to the “land of the free and the home of the brave”? In John Okada’s novel No-No Boy, these questions are repeatedly asked, exposing the varying patriotism among the different ages of Japanese-Americans. The main character, Ichiro Yamada, struggles with trying to recover his lost American identity while also defying his parents’ differing ideals. Throughout the book, he resents his parents for convincing him to put Japan over his own homeland, by his refusal to be drafted into the Army. “…when the war came and they told me to fight for America, I was not strong enough to fight you and I was not strong enough to fight the bitterness…show more content…
Their selfish purpose for moving to America was to seek riches that they could bring back to Japan. Once thy realized that the “American Dream” was merely an illusion, they still refused to appreciate the resources and opportunities that America was realistically able to offer. Ichiro describes his contempt concerning the older generation’s trepidation to accept American culture and lifestyle. “They continued to maintain their dreams by refusing to learn how to speak or write the language of America and by living only among their own kind and by zealously avoiding long term commitments such as the purchase of a house” (25-26). Not only do Ichiro’ parents personally reject the American life, but they also attempt to isolate their children from that life as well. Ichiro’s mother would not allow radio, a record player, or any other item representing American culture, in her house. “All she wanted from America for her sons was an education, learning and knowledge which would make them better men in Japan. To believe that she expected that such a thing was possible for her sons without their acquiring other American tastes and habits and feelings was hardly possible and, yet, that is how it was” (205). The parents and their generation believed that the younger generation had to choose between being Japanese or being American and not both. Ichiro’s mother’s approval of him stems from whether or not she considers him to be her version of
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