Summary: Chapter 14

The narrative jumps ahead a few months to February 1942. Two FBI agents arrive to search the Imadas’ home and confiscate any and all vestiges of the “old country,” including a kimono and a bamboo flute. The agents discover a shotgun and some dynamite Hisao uses to clear fields for strawberry planting. According to wartime orders, these items are illegal, so the agents arrest Hisao and take him away.

The government sends Hisao to Montana to dig trenches in a work camp. Fujiko, left with her daughters, tells them the story of how she came to the United States from Japan. She says that she endured hardship and hatred from the hakujin, or white people. Now, she predicts, the family will have to endure more hardship.

In the cedar tree with Ishmael, Hatsue worries about their future and tries to be realistic. Ishmael is certain that things will turn out fine, arguing that their love for each other will overcome all obstacles. They kiss, but Hatsue is not convinced. Several weeks later, the U. S. War Relocation Authority orders all Japanese-Americans on the island to prepare for internment. In the cedar tree, Ishmael hatches an elaborate plan to communicate with Hatsue by mail. The two teenagers start to have sex, but Hatsue makes Ishmael stop, crying out in despair. Ishmael asks Hatsue to marry him, but she refuses, saying that she feels that everything about their relationship is wrong. Hatsue runs from the tree, leaving Ishmael for the last time. The next day she and her family depart for the internment camp.

Analysis: Chapters 11–14

This section affords us the first glimpse of the world through Kabuo’s eyes. The manner in which Kabuo physically looks at the world reflects his feelings about justice, destiny, and life. As he looks at his reflection in Chapter 11, for example, he sees a hard, blank stare from eyes that “[do] not so much seem to stare right through things as to stare past the present state of the world into a world that was permanently in the distance . . . and at the same time more immediate than the present.” Kabuo feels that he does not have control over his present world, so he constantly looks ahead to what he fears will be his future. He fears that his fate has already been decided for him; he realizes that the jury likely interprets his facial expression as haughty and remorseless and will therefore find him guilty. Kabuo accepts his fate, believing that he must pay for the sin of taking lives in the war. He feels that he deserves a guilty verdict even though he is innocent of Carl’s death; he believes that murder is murder and that justice is inescapable. Kabuo’s posture and stare reflect this stony fatalism and his conviction that his destiny is not in his hands.

Fujiko also has a highly fatalistic worldview. She sees the war and her family’s internment as proof that there can never be understanding between the Japanese and the hakujin. Fujiko predicts that the war will force her family to become more immersed in Japanese culture, as they will all endure the war’s hardships together. When Hatsue protests that not all hakujin hate the Japanese, Fujiko counters that hakujin are egotistical and therefore fundamentally different from the Japanese. Fujiko believes that living among the hakujin will make Hatsue impure. Ironically, it is only the harsh experience of internment that enables Fujiko to keep her daughters isolated from the whites.

Ishmael’s beliefs contrast sharply with Kabuo’s and Fujiko’s. Ishmael insists that his love for Hatsue will triumph over the divisions that arise from their different ethnic backgrounds. He even believes that they will maintain their romance after she is sent to the internment camp. Ishmael holds out this hope because he firmly—and very naïvely—believes that life always makes sense and is always fair. Ishmael’s naïveté is further illustrated by his objection to his father’s editorial policy. When Ishmael tells his father to print only the facts, he shows his simplistic faith that facts will lead to truth and that truth will lead to justice. The real world is far more complicated than Ishmael is willing to admit. Unlike Fujiko’s resentment and Kabuo’s fatalism, Ishmael’s outlook is based entirely on naïve idealism and the hope that justice, love, and his desire for Hatsue will prevail.