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Characters, extended family: Naomi (& Stephen): children--30 years; Obasan (& Isamu, grandmother, etc) Aunt Emily (& father, etc) Missing mother Larger.

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Presentation on theme: "Characters, extended family: Naomi (& Stephen): children--30 years; Obasan (& Isamu, grandmother, etc) Aunt Emily (& father, etc) Missing mother Larger."— Presentation transcript:

1 Characters, extended family: Naomi (& Stephen): children--30 years; Obasan (& Isamu, grandmother, etc) Aunt Emily (& father, etc) Missing mother Larger (white) Canadian community: Old Man Gower (62-65) Mr. & Mrs. Baker ( ) Memo, Cooperative Com. On Japanese Canadians,

2 THEMES (to form thesis/argument in your research paper) Mother-daughter relations Speech vs silence(s) Social injustice, human rights, racism Language stylistics: analyses of selected polyphonic voices (Christian, Issei, activist, governmental, journalistic, subjective, dream) in relation to character and action Others?

3 Dialogism as key to novel’s meaning (Bakhtin, The Dialogic Imagination) “Dialogue may be external (between two different people) or internal (between an earlier and a later self).” “Dialogism is the characteristic epistemological mode of a world dominated by heteroglossia. Everything means, is understood, as a part of a greater whole.” Hybridization: “mixing, within a single concrete utterance, of two or more different linguistic consciousnesses, often widely separated in time and social space.”

4 Obasan (uncle): major ‘voice”--Issei, repressed, submissive, ‘nurturing,’ ambivalent values: Repetition, narrow range of articulations: old, lost, forgetful, everybody someday dies Forgetfulness, 23 Deaf, silent, mute Deliberately withholding, 3: “speech often hides like an animal in a storm” (defensive, ‘protective,’ fearful, dis-empowering “For the sake of the children”

5 Obasan, 11, 15-16, archetype “not one for hugs and kisses” “I’ve never seen her cry” “language of her grief is silence.... learned it well, its idioms and nuances.... Within her small body has grown large and powerful.” “deaf to my concern”

6 Extended family: imagery, 20-21: “disappear from the earth without a whimper”: memory, 25 “knit... into one blanket” “moth-eaten with time” “memories drowned in a whirlpool of protective silence” Ch. 5: attic, search, ‘scene of carnage” “patchwork quilt” Trapped by memories of ‘those who refuse to bury themselves” old question like a giant moth “Why did my mother not return?”

7 Aunt Emily, 8: crone-prone syndrome Naomi’s critique: “never stays still long enough to hear the sound of her own voice” 8 Ch. 7: “package from Aunt Emily”, 31 “exhorts, cajoles, commands” “the one with the vision”’’”flashlight” vs “safety of invisibility” 32’”Injustice enrages Aunt Emily” 34 Dialogism, 35; Issei gendered/sexist values, 36. Discuss p. 42: dramatization of positions on ‘history’ “leave the dead” or “the past is the future”? Reader-narrator education.

8 Aunt Emily: Speech, memory, resistance, “You are your history. If you cut any of it off you’r an amputee. Don’t deny the past. Remember everything.... Denial is gangrene”

9 “ Reproduction of Mothering ” Nancy Chodorow, 1978: psychological analysis of mother-daughter relations, & role of gender in social development. Shared female gender, more porous ego- boundary between mother and girl children Daughters harder/unable to separate from mother Subject-object relations more entangled Femininity & mother role reproduced mother to daughter

10 Mother-daughter relations: What does Naomi “ remember ” of mother ’ s presence? “ fragile presence ” 19, “ torn from ” rupture/trauma of abuse; abandonment; disappearance Memory & dream: 46, photograph “ best memories ” “ collage of images ” 50 “ fragments of fragments ” 56 “ arms are flung around my mother ” 59 “ eyes of Japanese motherhood ” “ do not invade and betray ” “ eyes that protect, shielding what is hidden most deeply ” “ makes safe ” Memory of yellow chicks & “ white hen ” symbolic action?

11 Chronological dating, present, past riddles/silences: mimesis of process of discovery Clues to riddles “Why?” p. 3, 27 “consumed by the question” P. 66, ‘around this time that mother disappears” (September 1941)

12 Importance of dates in narrative structure & plot (revelation/discovery/suspense) Opening: visits to coulee, August 9th, 1972 (27 year anniversary) First visit in 1954 (9 years after bombing, 18 years old). Present, 36 years old. Letters from Grandma dated 1949, p. 235 (Grandmother, mother, and nephew survived No date for mother’s death)

13 Nagasaki Atomic Explosion (Fat Man) August 9, 1945 (Aug. 6, Hiroshima) 60,000-80,000 killed, half in first day, almost all civilians Many unintended victims: Allied POWs, Korean and Chinese laborers, students on scholarships, and some 3,200 Japanese American citizens August 2009, memorials record names of 410,000+ hibakusha: 263,945 in Hiroshima, 149,226 in Nagasaki.

14 Chapter 38: “Silent Mother,” 241 Analyze stylistics: apostrophe/address to another (dead mother) “How shall I attend that speech?” Hybridization--relate to two prologues “powerful voicelessness” “words of distress” “The unknown is a hook that pierces the bone” Our wordlessness is our mutual destruction” Emotional intensity, associations, images, compression of meanings, etc

15 Further developed as thematic clusters: Christianity/belief system/values/power: where & how dramatized in action & character motivation, and within what con/text? e.g. Obasan, Nakayami-sensei, 232, 240 (submission) What interrogates these values? What other discourses are represented? Aunt Emily’s political activism/political empowerment/secular values, 33-42, 77-1i0 (resistance)

16 Other discursive registers, polyvocality Memory images, 112 Dream language, Children;s stories, nursery rhymes Political/legislative rhetoric,


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