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Analysis Of Cynthia Kadohata's Novel Kira-Kira

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Being a child is supposed to be a carefree time of playing pretend and spending time with friends. Children are not often faced with the realities of real life situations such as death or discrimination. Cynthia Kadohata’s debut novel “Kira-Kira” which was published in 2004 is about a Japanese-American family living in rural Georgia in the 1950s. While the story is a work of fiction, it is parallel to Kadohata’s own life. She was born in Chicago and her family then moved to Georgia and her father worked in a chicken factory similar to the parents in “Kira-Kira”. Since publishing “Kira-Kira” Kadohata has gone on to write a handful of other young adult novels as well as a few adult novels. Many of her novels are based on her experiences…show more content…
The first time Katie witnesses racism she is five years old. Her family is moving from Indiana to Georgia and when they stop for the night, the hotel receptionist forces them to stay in a run-down room at the back of the property and pay two dollars extra. Her father explains to her that the woman is a “bad lady” but that sometimes you have to put up with immoral people to do what is best for your family. Throughout the novel the parents are ignored by others when they are out in public and at another point in the story, Katie’s uncle is unable to find a job in his field because he is Japanese.
Witnessing the hate her family faces, because of their race, leads Katie to begin acculturating herself. She and her sister begin to curl their hair like “white girls” and Katie begins talking with a thick southern accent. While it is normal for kids to want to fit in, this shows an extra level of maturity and understanding of their surroundings. The girls know they live in an area where racism is rampant and they show a sense of self-preservation at a young age, even if it went against their mother’s wishes. Their mother “was dismayed over how un-Japanese we were and vowed to send us to Japan one day” but they did not pay her much attention. They wanted to be normal girls and avoid being picked on and ridiculed by their peers.
The theme of death is sprinkled throughout the entire novel. Katie and Lynn’s first experience with
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