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Some say that a picture is worth over a thousand word but tens of thousands, millions of words express more than one picture, Citizen 13660 is a well written autobiographical and historical account that combined picture and word. Mine Okubo express the experiences of the Japanese people who lived in the internment- the state of being confined as a prisoner, for political or military reasons (oxforddictionaries), during World War II. On december 7, 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked, the United States respond by declaring war on Japan, which caused many Japanese Americans to become targets of suspicion and mistrust. Okubo was a student of the University of California when the evacuation order caused her family to relocated in a internment. Many people of Japanese descent, regardless of citizenship were forced to abandon their home and move to the Tanforan center for an unknown period of time. All Japanese people including Okubo was reduced to an number, Okubo was No. 13660. The story of Citizen 13660 showed the dehumanized side of the internment, realism of the experience and emotion/lack of emotion that people faced.
The Tanforan internment was originally a horse racing field, therefore the camp is still under construction. Once they arrived, they went through a full physical exam that is mandatory regardless of human privacy. They have to deal with the harsh living conditions such as living in a converted barrack, poor food and extreme weather exposure. Okubo and others were living in a confinement, being investigate and dehumanized against their will. Okubo describe the barrack as “. . in semidarkness; light barely came through the dirty window on either side of the entrance. (Okubo 35)”. The camp caused Japanese-American to cramp into a small space to sleep and overcrowded facilities such as showers and bathrooms, therefore they have no privacy and personal space. Which caused them to passed time aimlessly by wandering, sleeping and daydreaming about freedom. Okubo said “People came to bask in the sun in the wind-protected privacy of the grandstand booths; others came for a private dice game (Okubo 101)”. Although Okubo and others still haven’t given up on the future, they question and felt unease about the their circumstance, meanwhile they find purposeful activities to passed time such as cleaning the barracks, making art and crafts from whatever is available and helping each other. Despite living in an internment, people make the best they can, they gather together to form a big family to help each other in times of need. Okubo depict both negative and positive side of the camp in a trueful and matter of fact tone.
The book illustrate the experience of living in a internment with realistic and first person point of view that touched people’s heart. The Japanese-American are transferred to another camp near Topaz which have better living condition and well equipped, indicating the hard work of the people have not gone to waste and the government are more prepared and less strict with rules. Okubo write about the daily life in the camp and realistic point of view of the people. However Okubo doesn’t write about the feeling and emotion of the Japanese-American who faced hardship, instead write about only the realism and facts of the internment. She describe in depth of the experience by saying “The stench of manure returned with the heat and this in turn brought back the horseflies (Okubo 106)”. Perhaps Okubo didn’t want to denounce the government for placing them in a horrible living arrangement, in fear of being ostracized and hated by other Americans when they go back to their normal lives. Okubo wanted to shared the experience to let people know the truth of internment, not criticize the government. Life in the Topaz camp is more relax, Okubo and others are allow one day back in their former home to settle personal affair with an police guard. Okubo said “ That one day of liberty was wonderful. I was like a child. I wanted to buy everything. (Okubo 110)”.
The book didn’t attack or accuse anyone even through they suffered a dehumanizing experience, instead state the detailed in a truthful manner. Although the sketches only show a portion of the event, Okubo used fade and shadow to indicated that there are more people that went through the same hardship. Okubo describe the detailed life in the camp with subtle and realistic first point of view that deeply affected the readers. All picture and text give small and subtle hint of the underlying emotion Japanese American experience during the internment. Okubo demonstrates the experience in a matter of fact tone without emotions, whereas the sketches showed underlying sentiment. The graphic showed detailed feeling of bitterness that stem from the cruel living standard that are little better than animal. Whereas the text are devoid of emotions and only showed a brief descriptions Okubo also describe the positives point of view to help make thing more bearable such as making little joke about herself in — “Tree and shrubs appeared in the most unexpected places (Okubo 150)”. The trees and shrub are metaphor of the unexpected confinement in the camp, which showed that they never expected the situation to happen. The Japanese Americans thought they were good people and law abiding citizens and therefore didn’t expected to leave their home and evacuate in a confinement. Okubo said “ That one day of liberty was wonderful. I was like a child. I wanted to buy everything. (Okubo 110)”. The book didn’t show blood or death but a tone of sadness which showed that Okubo enormously value freedom. Overall the drawing show a hidden side of the story, wheas the caption is devoid of emotion. Okubo wanted to write about what happened at the camp, but she didn’t want to find fault in the government by comparing them to nazi, since it wouldn’t do both side any good.
The text express the unfair treatment in a realistic point of view, whereas the sketches showed emotion in subtle manner. The images express the underlying emotion, as opposed the text interpret it with carefully placed context without direct accusations. The combination helped the reader understand the experience Japanese American faced. Okubo make the reader think deeply about the injustice done to the Japanese American citizens in a calm manner. She highlighter different emotions such as bitterness, hopefulness and truthfulness in citizen 13660 that touched people’s heart deeply. In the end, Okubo along with many others are allow to leave, but she struggle deeply whether she could leave all these people behind who have nowhere to go. She felt happy at freedom and sorrow for the people who have nowhere to go, since the camp have been their “home” for many years and children were even born there. Okubo end with changing from the past to the future may hold. The story of Citizen 13660 showed the inhumane treatment, realism of the event and emotion/underlying emotion that Japanese American experienced. Okubo focuses on the truthful side of people who experience it rather than attacking the government for the unjust treatment.
The book shared the experience to let people know the real story in the internment, not finding fault in the government or compare them to nazi. The text express realistic point of view whereas the pictures showed emotion people express in a subtle way. The combination helped the reader understand the emotion that Japanese American faced. Okubo make the reader think deeply about the internment Japanese American citizens faced in a calm manner. She highlighter different emotions in citizen 13660 that touched people’s heart. Okubo struggle whether she could leave all these people who have nowhere to go. She felt conflict to see young children and old elderly, wondering how will they survived in the outside world. She end with a tint of hope and uncertainty of the future.
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