Chapter 1

This semi-autobiographical novel recounts the story of a Japanese family attempting to flee Korea and return home at the end of World War II.
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definitions & notes only words
  1. frolic
    play boisterously
    I was called "Little One" by my parents and Ko, but my older brother, Hideyo, always teasing, called me "Noisy One" because I often screamed when I was teased and when we frolicked in the house.
  2. calligraphy
    beautiful handwriting
    Mother and I were alone and I was practicing my brush-writing before going to my teacher's house for a calligraphy lesson.
  3. bewildered
    perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements
    Mother stood, bewildered, and he yelled at her.
  4. majestic
    having or displaying great dignity or nobility
    Through this Mount Fuji paperweight I dreamed of seeing the majestic mountain and imagined the beauty of my homeland.
  5. seethe
    be in an agitated emotional state
    I had stood there helpless, fists clenched, seething, and the iron weight smashing Mother's important lenses released my fury.
  6. anguish
    suffer great pains or distress
    My head went dark. Somewhere in the dark space I heard Mother's anguished cry. "Leave...leave!"
  7. optometrist
    a person skilled in testing for defects of vision
    He turned to Mother. "I will call my optometrist friend and he will prescribe lenses for you. This is absolutely inexcusable of the military," he said angrily.
  8. desperate
    showing extreme urgency or intensity because of great need
    "The government must be desperate for supplies to make ammunition. Telephone me if a thing like this happens again."
  9. ammunition
    projectiles to be fired from a gun
    "The government must be desperate for supplies to make ammunition. Telephone me if a thing like this happens again."
  10. thicket
    a dense growth of bushes
    Whenever Father came home, he and Hideyo worked, digging a shelter in the thicket large enough for the whole family to crawl into.
  11. rucksack
    a bag carried by a strap on your back or shoulder
    He also told us to pack emergency rucksacks, with rice, dried fish, a mess kit, some changes of clothing, and a blanket each.
  12. tributary
    a branch that flows into the main stream
    The tributary of the Tumen River ran swiftly, bouncing around large rocks and leaving sparkling beads.
  13. imperial
    relating to or associated with an empire
    She sighed deeply. "I've just heard that the army has established another division at the foot of Kyojo Hill." That was only a mile from us. "Also, the Imperial Navy is docking warships in Rashin." Thirty miles away.
  14. detest
    dislike intensely
    Dancing lessons were something Father had decided Ko and I should take, and I detested them.
  15. civilian
    a nonmilitary citizen
    The military base was off-limits to civilians and I was curious. We were halted at a gate by army police, then waved on.
  16. kimono
    a loose robe originating in Japan
    While I was changing into my kimono costume I began to hear people entering the auditorium, and I peeked through the heavy curtains.
  17. timid
    showing fear and lack of courage
    I was told to knock and I knocked timidly, but it took considerable persuasion from the doctor before a weak voice said, "Come in."
  18. considerable
    large in number, amount, extent, or degree
    I was told to knock and I knocked timidly, but it took considerable persuasion from the doctor before a weak voice said, "Come in."
  19. disfigure
    mar or spoil the appearance of
    He was wearing a hospital gown of white canvaslike material in kimono style and his face was uncovered. It was disfigured and the scars looked fresh and painful.
  20. consolation
    the comfort you feel when soothed in times of disappointment
    She was good at sewing and taught me how to make simple nightclothes as consolation gifts for battlefield soldiers.
  21. eerie
    inspiring a feeling of fear; strange and frightening
    Because it was dark inside and out, the night air raids seemed more eerie.
  22. honorable
    deserving of esteem and respect
    "At least you can speak to your mother, Honorable Brother," said Ko.
  23. blunt
    characterized by directness in manner or speech
    "I will not go away until I say my piece," Ko said bluntly.
    "Then say it and get out!"
  24. distinguished
    befitting an eminent person
    "You may think joining the student army and dying for the country would be glorious and make you a hero," Ko went on. "And the government would send Mother a distinguished medal for your courageous death. Do you think Mother would want it? No!"
  25. feeble
    pathetically lacking in force or effectiveness
    "There are only old and feeble men in the war zone now," said Hideyo. "The healthy ones have been either killed or wounded. Also, I cannot go to school every day peacefully while my classmates are getting killed. I have thought about this for a long time."
  26. emphatic
    spoken with particular stress
    "Listen." Ko's tone was even more emphatic. "Today while I was laboring at the parade ground I saw a bunch of half-recovered soldiers in their hospital gowns. They were being trained to carry food in the war zone under simulated fire and bombing."
  27. simulated
    reproduced or made to resemble; imitative in character
    "Listen." Ko's tone was even more emphatic. "Today while I was laboring at the parade ground I saw a bunch of half-recovered soldiers in their hospital gowns. They were being trained to carry food in the war zone under simulated fire and bombing."
  28. disown
    cast off
    She shouted, "If you join the army I disown you as an honorable brother and I will not speak to you as long as I live!"
  29. deliberately
    with intention; in an intentional manner
    "Sure, sure! Honorable Brother is very stupid in the eyes of the examiners. Look at this! Your son deliberately put down the wrong answers. These are questions even our Little One can answer!"
  30. evacuate
    move out of an unsafe location into safety
    Then Mother broke the silence. "Father wrote. He asked if our emergency bags were ready. He said, even though it's summer, we should take some winter clothes to the shelter with us...just in case we must evacuate."
Created on March 9, 2021 (updated March 15, 2021)

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