Analysis Of John Okada's No-No Boy

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After World War II ended in 1945, xenophobia amongst the white populace, coupled with an inflexible definition of who or what represented an American, prevented Asian Americans from claiming an American identity. Alongside this exclusion, the post-war period also witnessed the Issei and Nisei’s assertion of an American identity formed by culture and family in the Issei and Nisei community. This essay argues that through Ichiro Yamada’s struggle to integrate, John Okada’s No-No Boy represents the fracturing belief of a monoracial American identity and the cultural instability found within the narrative. No-No Boy adopts an allegoric strategy in order to foreground the ways in which internment, and sometimes incarceration, shaped the…show more content…
However, in Mrs. Yamada’s eyes, his refusal affirmed her pride in calling him “her son” (16). During this scene, Okada uses free indirect discourse, or the “presenting of thoughts of a character as if it is from their POV via character’s ‘direct speech’ the narrator’s ‘indirect report’” to mark Ichiro’s realization that he is no longer the model son that displays immense loyalty to Japan (10/16 Lecture). The narrator begins by emphasizing that he is watching his mom part the curtains while Ichiro’s direct speech recalls the time when he could identify wholly as Japanese since American society accepted his Japanese pride and culture, even though he lived in America. The direct speech continues on by saying that eventually, a time came when he only felt half Japanese, as he summarizes that “one does not speak…and hear among Americans in American streets and houses without becoming American and loving it” (16). Yet, he proclaims that he did not love being American enough, due to the fact that his mother is Japanese; recognizing that he himself is to blame for not fighting back to declare his American identity. Thus, Ichiro acknowledges the fact that the internment and incarceration have left him with an identity that is no longer belonging to his mother or a particular country. The violent and racial insults spewed at Ichiro signify the cultural instability of the non-Japanese and the assimilated Japanese-Americans. For example, when Ichiro enters
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