Problem of Racism in The Book 'When The Emperor Was Divine'

About this sample

About this sample


Words: 699 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Words: 699|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Aug 30, 2022

Have you ever disliked an object because of its design or color, and liked another that serves that same purpose as the first but just has a different design or color? It’s like the same with apples because apples can come in three different colors; red, green, and yellow. Even if they’re different colors, they are grown the same, eaten the same way, and taste the same. Some people would choose one color over the others because they like that color over the others. Racism is the same thing. In “When the Emperor was Divine” by Julie Otsuka, Japanese Americans were loathed by other people because they believed that the Japanese Americans sided with the Japanese. Though some actually were sided with the Japanese, the majority of Japanese Americans don’t want to have anything to do with the war. The Japanese Americans were banned from going into stores and were called names. The children were the most affected by all of this because they don’t understand racism. Racism impacts children by making them also adopt racist beliefs and forces them to grow up.

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Racism impacted the boy because he adopted the racist beliefs of others. Being in a racist environment, he thinks that saying racist comments like others is normal. “For it was true, they all looked alike. Black hair. Slanted eyes. High cheekbones. Thick glasses. Thin lips. Bad teeth. Unknowable. Inscrutable. That was him, over there. The little yellow man”. This was what all other Americans described the Japanese. This thought crossed the mind of the boy almost as soon as he saw the other Japanese Americans. He doesn’t know that it was racist to think that way. “In China there were people so poor they had to feed their newborn babies to the dogs. In China they ate grass for breakfast and for lunch they ate cats. And for dinner? For dinner, in China, they ate dogs”. The boy, having been raised in America, also adopted the racist belief that people in China were very poor and ate cats and dogs. “Later, a man stopped him on the sidewalk in front of Woolworth’s and said, “Chink or Jap?” and the boy answered, “Chink”, and ran away as fast as he could. Only when he got to the corner did he turn around and shout, “Jap! Jap! I’m a Jap!” The boy said both the words ‘Chink’ and ‘Jap’ to answer the man when he could’ve just said ‘Chinese’ or ‘Japanese’. The boy is being racist, but he doesn’t know that he is.

Racism impacted the girl since she was forced to grow up because of it. The girl started acting older in order to cope with the stress of racism. “His sister left the barracks early in the morning and did not return until long after dark. She was always in a rush now” Usually, adults are the ones who are always in a rush and tell kids to hurry up. Kids tend to do things slowly, since they don’t have a long schedule and that they have a lot of time on their hands. The girl is only ten years old, and she already is rushing to do everything. Being sent to internment camps was the racist people’s fault. “She smoked cigarettes” You are only allowed to smoke cigarettes when you are eighteen years old. The internment camp forced her to grow up and because of that, she has to smoke cigarettes to cope with the stress. “One day he saw her standing in line at the mess hall in her Panama hat and she hardly seemed to recognize him at all” Adults are the ones who are too busy and in a hurry to recognize you. A ten-year-old shouldn’t be like that.

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To summarize, racism impacted the boy and the girl from the novel substantially. The boy, who was raised in a racist environment, adopted the racist beliefs of the other Americans. The girl, who was only ten-years-old, was forced to grow up because she couldn’t handle the stress of being in an internment camp. All of this happened because Americans failed to realize that Japanese Americans were different from the Japanese people whom the Allies were fighting.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Problem of Racism in the Book ‘When The Emperor Was Divine’. (2022, August 30). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
“Problem of Racism in the Book ‘When The Emperor Was Divine’.” GradesFixer, 30 Aug. 2022,
Problem of Racism in the Book ‘When The Emperor Was Divine’. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Jun. 2024].
Problem of Racism in the Book ‘When The Emperor Was Divine’ [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2022 Aug 30 [cited 2024 Jun 23]. Available from:
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