a forceful consequence; a strong effect
Writing it has been a way of coming to terms with the
impact these years have had on my entire life.
a large fleet
They floated awhile, then they began to grow, tiny gulls becoming boats again, a white
armada cruising toward us.
"Armada" is related to "army" and usually refers to a fleet of warships. Here, the word refers to fishing boats owned by Japanese Americans. The example sentence makes them sound threatening. This was not actually the case, but the description foreshadows the perspective of the US government during World War II.
Five hundred Japanese families lived there then, and FBI deputies had been questioning everyone,
ransacking houses for anything that could conceivably be used for signaling planes or ships or that indicated loyalty to the Emperor.
The verb also means "steal goods; take as spoils." The FBI deputies would not agree that that was what they were also doing. But the Japanese families whose houses were searched and possessions confiscated would apply that meaning, especially since they never got their possessions back.
someone who deliberately destroys or disrupts something
To the FBI every radio owner was a potential
characterized by unrest or disorder or insubordination
The confiscators were often deputies sworn in hastily during the
turbulent days right after Pearl Harbor, and these men seemed to be acting out the general panic, seeing sinister possibilities in the most ordinary household items: flashlights, kitchen knives, cameras, lanterns, toy swords.
producing no result or effect
But I think he knew it was
futile to hide out or resist.
cause to suffer
They would swagger and pick on outsiders and
persecute anyone who didn’t speak as they did.
concealing yourself and lying in wait to attack by surprise
Each day after school I dreaded their
The word is often used in connection to war. But here, the dreaded ambush never happened. The example sentence reflects the fear of seven-year-old Jeanne, who was unused to being surrounded by so many Japanese faces who could not speak English. Ironically, her mother had moved the family to Terminal Island because she thought it would be safer.
cause to feel shame
The secondhand dealers had been prowling around for weeks, like wolves, offering
humiliating prices for goods and furniture they knew many of us would have to sell sooner or later.
an exile who flees for safety
The American Friends Service helped us find a small house in Boyle Heights, another minority ghetto, in downtown Los Angeles, now inhabited briefly by a few hundred Terminal Island
confinement during wartime
There was a lot of talk about
internment, or moving inland, or something like that in store for all Japanese Americans.
incapable of being avoided or prevented
These were mainly days of quiet, desperate waiting for what seemed at the time to be
a state of deep-seated ill-will
This was the first time I had felt outright
hostility from a Caucasian.
not consistent with or using reason
Tolerance had turned to distrust and
provide physical relief, as from pain
It was grueling work up there, and wages were pitiful, but when the call came through camp for workers to
alleviate the wartime labor shortage, it sounded better than their life at Manzanar.
put up with something or somebody unpleasant
It was a humiliation she just learned to
endure: shikata ga nai, this cannot be helped.
The verb also means "face and withstand with courage." Papa might argue that putting up with humiliation is more a sign of weakness than courage. But Mama needed inner strength to swallow her pride and "subordinate her own desires" in order to make the best of a bad situation for herself and her family. In this light, Mama can be seen as stronger and more courageous than Papa, who tried to avoid his unpleasant situation by drinking.
break down, literally or metaphorically
My own family, after three years of mess hall living,
collapsed as an integrated unit.
a building or group of buildings to house military personnel
barracks facing ours there lived an elegant woman who astounded me each time I saw her.
"Elegant" can mean "suggesting taste, ease, and wealth." This makes the woman even more out of place in the barracks. As the definition for "barrack" shows, the housing at Manzanar was built by the War Department. But this was hastily and badly done not for its own military personnel but for Japanese American civilians who were viewed as enemies and treated as prisoners.
move people from their homes or country
Evacuated to Manzanar and given the job of caring for some fifty orphans interned there, they set up what came to be known as “Children’s Village,’’ and they had one barracks turned into a chapel.
An evacuation is usually concerned with moving people to protect them from an unsafe location. While the authors suggest that this was partly true ("They had all heard stories of Japanese homes being attacked, of beatings in the streets of California towns. They were as frightened of the Caucasians as Caucasians were of us."), the evacuation of the Japanese Americans from the western coastal states was intended to protect the country's war efforts against Japan.
fight violence and try to establish peace in
someone who cooperates with an enemy occupying force
Years later I learned that inu also meant
collaborator or informer.
I knew his
wrath could turn on any one of us.
move or swing back and forth
Mama began to weep, great silent tears, and Papa was now limping back and forth beside the bunk, like a caged animal,
brandishing his long, polished North Dakota cane.
a speech of violent denunciation
Kiyo must have felt something similar, because at the height of Papa’s
tirade he threw his covers back, and in his underwear he jumped out of bed yelling, “Stop it, Papa! Stop it!”
He kept pursuing
oblivion through drink, he kept abusing Mama, and there seemed to be no way out of it for anyone.
loss of power and masculinity
He had no rights, no home, no control over his own life. This kind of
emasculation was suffered, in one form or another, by all the men interned at Manzanar.
turn away from; give up
During the First World War he had served in the U.S. Army in France and in Germany, and he was so frustrated by his treatment at Manzanar he was ready to
renounce his citizenship and sail to the old country.
The verb can also refer to the giving up of power, but this meaning does not apply to the example sentence. Rather, it was the lack of power that made the man want to renounce his seemingly useless American citizenship. This man was not Papa, who had nothing in Japan to return to, or Woody, who was anxious to prove his loyalty and worth as an American.
a small unit of troops of special composition
Meanwhile the mob heading for the police station had been met by a
detachment of military police carrying submachine guns and M1s.
formally reject or disavow
Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and
forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?
—from the War Relocation Authority Application for Leave Clearance, 1943
the systematic use of spies to obtain secrets
espionage agent would willingly admit he was disloyal.
showing a fighting disposition
Yet the very idea of the oath itself—appearing at the end of that first chaotic year—became the final goad that prodded many once-loyal citizens to turn
the act of returning to one's country of origin
If he said NO NO, he could be sent to Tule Lake camp in northern California where all the “disloyal” were to be assembled for what most people believed would be eventual
repatriation to Japan.
group action in opposition to those in power
Pro-Japan forces were trying to organize a NO NO vote by blocks, in massive
a disorderly outburst or tumult
I was hurrying back to the barracks when I heard a great
commotion inside the mess hall, men shouting wildly, as if a fire had broken out.
I had never seen him so
livid, yelling and out of his head with rage.