Saturday, March 9

Within These Lines + Novel Study

Using 'Within These Lines' as a read-aloud, we've been studying another aspect of World War 2 - the Japanese internment camps.  This is not an area that's covered in the We Were There series, yet it's an important part of history, and one that must be remembered...

Within These Lines (Stephanie Morrill)
When Evalina Cassano and Taichi Hamasaki are torn apart by the events following the attack on Pearl Harbor, they must fight if they want any hope of returning to one another before World War II steals their future together. Within These Lines is one unflinching, haunting, historical novel you don’t want to miss; perfect for fans of Monica Hesse, Ruta Sepetys, and Elizabeth Wein.  Evalina Cassano’s life in an Italian-American family living in San Francisco in 1941 is quiet and ordinary until she falls in love with Taichi Hamasaki, the son of Japanese immigrants. 

Despite the scandal it would cause and that inter-racial marriage is illegal in California, Evalina and Taichi vow they will find a way to be together. But anti-Japanese feelings erupt across the country after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and Taichi and his family are forced to give up their farm and move to a Japanese-American internment camp.  Degrading treatment makes life at Manzanar Relocation Center difficult. Taichi’s only connection to the outside world is treasured letters from Evalina. Feeling that the only action she can take to help Taichi is to speak out against injustice, Evalina becomes increasingly vocal at school and at home. Meanwhile, inside Manzanar, fighting between different Japanese-American factions arises. Taichi begins to doubt he will ever leave the camp alive.  With tensions running high and their freedom on the line, Evalina and Taichi must hold true to their ideals and believe in their love to make a way back to each other against unbelievable odds.

What'd We Think?
Though written for the young adult audience, this book holds appeal for adults as well, and that made it a great read-aloud for our family.  The two characters are in somewhat of a Romeo & Juliet story, living in a time when interracial marriages are already unacceptable, and now the Japanese are looked down upon because of Pearl Harbor.  These strong characters stand up and support each other through the hardships of the era.  Taichi tries to shelter Evalina from the realities of life in the camp, which the author paints well, but lightens it up a bit so as not to be overly graphic for young readers.  The book is about a relationship, but it's also an educational story about this blot on US history.


Japanese Internment Camps - Unit Study

After the attacks at Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that allowed the military to send Japanese-Americans to camps.  Similar to concentration camps, in that the people were forced to move to an area that was surrounded by barbed wire (and not allowed to leave), they were not the death camps of Germany that most people think of when they remember this time period.  Around 120,000 people ended up in these camps.  {There were 12,000 Germans and Italians held in camps as well.)

People were afraid that Japanese-Americans would sabotage the United States and help Japan win the war, so they put them in these camps.  Entire families, including children, were sent to one of the ten camps.  They left behind their homes, businesses, pets, most of their possessions, and their livelihoods.  Schools and jobs were created in the camps, but life was very crowded and difficult.

In spite of their hardships, many of the camps functioned peacefully.  Each family lived in a single room inside of a barracks.  They ate in a mess hall and shared a bathroom with other families.  They tried to maintain a sense of normalcy by planting vegetable gardens, having baseball teams, creating music and art, and holding religious services.  

In 1943, a Japanese division was created in the Army, the 442nd, that included about 17,000 Japanese-Americans.  In 1945, the internment, or relocation, camps closed.  Family members were given $25 and a train ticket home, and they went home to rebuild new lives.  In 1988, President Reagan signed a law that apologized to each of the survivors and gave them $20,000 in reparations for the damages of these camps.
Read
Make / Do
Watch
Vocabulary
  • Alien Land Acts
  • Barracks
  • Civil Rights
  • Convict
  • Evacuation
  • Executive Order #9066
  • Internment Camp
  • Issei 
  • Nisei 
  • Nippon
  • Prejudice
  • Relocation Center
  • Sansei
Think
  • Should non-citizens (aliens) be granted the same rights and protections as citizens? Explain your answer.
  • How was propaganda used during World War II to influence public perception of Japanese and Japanese Americans?

5 comments:

  1. When I was teaching high school, I was glad to see that this information was being included in the history courses now. I taught a unit on it with my general World History students during student teaching.

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    1. I don't remember learning about this in school (doesn't mean we didn't) or even reading much about it as a kid. But I've seen a lot more in the last ten years or so...and it should definitely be remembered!

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  2. saving this for our world war two studies!

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  3. I didn't learn about this until college, even though I took a lot of history classes in high school. I just finished On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. Love this idea for a unit study, and we're going to check out children of the camps tonight! Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. That was a great book! (Bitter & Sweet)

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