OVERCOMING OTHERNESS: A JAPANESE AMERICAN PERSPECTIVE
Abstract - In the 1940s, people of Japanese ancestry living in the United States suffered the consequences of World War II and Pearl Harbor, as U.S. authorities branded them as disloyal, regardless of their citizenship or immigrant status. Labelled as personae non gratae, the Nikkei (people of Japanese ancestry in the U.S.) become the undesirable other, a homogenous group that needs to be isolated from White Americans. The anti-Japanese policy resulted in the opening of ethnically targeted incarceration camps, separation of families, and restrictions of rights and freedoms for over 120,000 individuals. John Okada’s novel, No-No Boy, deals with the condition of the Nikkei during their post-camp experience through Ichiro Yamada, an American citizen of Japanese ancestry who refused to be drafted at war due to the maltreatment suffered by the U.S. authorities. I demonstrate that the detainees’ camp decisions and subsequent segregation perpetuated by U.S. authorities reconfigured the familial and social relations of the imprisoned during their post-camp existence: Ichiro Yamada’s identity dilemma and continuous othering halts his social and familial reintegration. The study identified that the Nikkei’s reactions to the imprisonment phenomenon were not homogenous, as individuals chose to either accept or deny their hyphenated identities and the choices that emerged from these identity components (Japanese and American). Community members ensured Ichiro Yamada’s reintegration and belief that his draft refusal did not mean he was undeserving of redemption and being an American of Japanese ancestry. After numerous trials and tribulations, Ichiro renounces his self-projected image as the other and attains a status of post-otherness.
Keywords - Coming-of-Age, John Okada; No-No Boy, Otherness; Post-Otherness.