Stillness In Joy Kogawa

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In her novel, Joy Kogawa tells a tale of a Japanese family that was unexpectedly torn apart because of the effects of World War Two and the treatment of Japanese Canadians during that time. Obasan is the story of the life of a young woman, Naomi, who was separated from her mother as a child. Naomi, now an adult, examines her life and starts to analyze her past, specifically the interminable question of what happened to her mother. The veracity of Naomi’s relationship with her mother is that it was nonexistent because it was based on endless wondering, waiting and numerous unanswered questions, shadowed by grief. With her mother being in Japan and without any form of communication between the two, Naomi is faced with a struggling debate to…show more content…
Wondering about her mother’s love, waiting for her return and trying to comprehend. The absence of knowledge about her mother’s return or if she was ever to return was a continuous thought for Naomi. “What matters to my five-year-old mind is not the reason that she is required to leave, but the stillness of waiting for her to return” (59). Stillness is discussed later in the novel as well. Although this time the stillness represents not waiting for her mother’s return, but her lifelong preparation for handling the news of her mother’s death. “What stillness in this pre-dawn hour. The air is cold. In all our life of preparation we are unprepared for this new hour filled with emptiness” (221). Naomi is still in the sense that she never knew when her mother was to return and whether it would be tomorrow, in twenty years or never. She is frozen in the waiting zone and only wishes to be able to be with her mother again. “I close my eyes. Mother. I am listening. Assist me to hear you” (216). Naomi often speaks about her mother this way, as if to speak to her in her own head or in a dream. In a way this helps Naomi cope and feel closer to her. “My mother hid her love, but hidden in life does she speak through dream? Her tale is a rose with a tangles stem. All this questioning, this clawing at her grave, is an unseemly thing” (205). The endless waiting and wonder eventually cease when Naomi finds out about her mother’s…show more content…
On the other hand, it is challenging to have faith that they are alive when it seems so improbable that they are. Naomi talks of stillness in time, but also describes that life continues on. “Time solidifies, ossifies the waiting into molecules of stone, dark microscopic planets that swirl through the universe of my body waiting for light and the morning” (59). Life sustained to happen regardless of knowing about her mother’s life but once she found out what her mother went through the grief established. “I had not known that Grief had such gentle eyes-eyes reflecting my uncle’s eyes, my mother’s eyes, all the familiar lost eyes of Love that are not his and that he dons as a mask and a mockery” (221). Naomi experiences grief throughout the novel without any real time to heal or even a person to help her heal. She often found herself unable to discuss the grief with family members. Which in turn leads to hiding emotions from her

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