Strengths In Obasan

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Anna He Ms. Killins ENG2DB 2 December 2014 Seeing Strengths in Strident Sound and Silent Stone The aftermath of tragedy is devastating and one requires great strength for recovery. Joy Kogawa effectively portrays the behavioural effects of different strengths upon a person in her debut novel Obasan, using two equally significant, yet incredibly dissimilar aunts. Both are fully grown adults with ideals set in stone when WWII begins. Their communication, or lack thereof, portrays their different strengths, but does not reduce one character to becoming inferior to another. Both characters’ personal relationships clearly contrast against each other in individual displays of their strength and willpower. These types of strengths are shown in their…show more content…
Aunt Emily and Obasan have both like and unlike relationships. Aunt Emily’s life remains void of romance despite living in an urban centre: “Aunt Emily in Toronto, still single at fifty-six, is even more old-maidish than I am and yet she refuses the label” (12). The term “old maid” refers to a woman who is past the usual marrying age, maid being short for a “maiden”, or virgin. Being an activist in Toronto, Aunt Emily networks with like people she meets for political purposes; however, it is clear that her principals are of much higher regard, often “jamming up [her family’s] small metal box in Granton P.O. [with her correspondence]” (33). Though her communication with her family never falters, we can see that her letters are about her frequent rallies and mailed replies from the government. Obasan, on the other hand, puts her family above everything else, choosing to live in a small world where she cares only for her loved ones: “At home, Obasan keeps me busy making a scrapbook of the Royal Family. Some of the children attend Japanese language classes but I hear Obasan and Uncle whispering that it is unwise to have us go. The RCMP, they are saying, are always looking for signs of disloyalty to Canada” (124). Obasan’s care for Naomi keeps her busy and safely “Canadian”. The choice not to send her or her brother to Japanese language class is a…show more content…
While Obasan is married and Aunt Emily is not, both of them have relationships that deeply influence their lifestyle. Aunt Emily may use these relationships as she actively moves about and campaigns for the rights of Japanese-Canadians across the nation; in contrast, Obasan stays heavily rooted in her current home, letting it become part of “her blood and bones” (19). As a result, Obasan is heavily quiet, but far from timid; her silence outgrowing her shrinking body, giving her composure. Likewise, Aunt Emily is anything but hushed, flying about like a hurricane, unable to rest until she sees the rights of Japanese-Canadians come to light. Both of these characters may be completely divergent, however their recovery from WWII is a display of undeniable

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