Havey Reading


Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp, follows Lily Yuriko Nkai Havey’s life in the Japanese internment camps (Santa Anita and Amache).  She writes about her and her family’s experience in the internment camp, their everyday lives, and their life before the camps.  Yuriko was 10 years old when her and her family were kicked out of their home and into a “temporary” camp.  The camps were said to be a temporary solution, and thousands of Japanese Americans and other “enemies” of the state were forced into these camps to contain any potential threats.  I found it interesting how whenever she and her mom talk about  the situation they are living through, she says “my America” or she says “I am American,” whenever she says so her mother always corrects her and tells her that she is Japanese because she looks Japanese and that, that is the only thing the government or Americans will see.  Another thing that is discussed was how the Japanese tried to be more American and tried to lessen their Japanese culture.  An example is when she mentions how many of her mother’s friends had their eyes “fixed” to make their eyes look wider like Americans eyes.  

Another part of the story was religion, once again we see religion as a way of coping with reality and how it helped maintain ties to their native land.  Yuriko’s mother followed Buddhism closely, she went to the sermons and prayed as well.  She blames her karma for what was happening to them.  On multiple occasions she would mention how because she had done something bad in her past life she was now suffering.  This was different from the other readings we had because in the prior readings they used religion as relief from their lives, while in this reading it was both relief and it was also the cause of their suffering. 

2 thoughts on “Havey Reading

  1. I definitely saw the struggle of how to feel about the American identity in the book as well. I thought one of the powerful stories in the book was how Lily’s mother took down the pictures of the Japanese Emperor in her house because she knew she would be perceived as an “enemy,” although the Emperor was not the one who waged war. I thought that scene also brought to light how ignorant Americans were to what was happening in Japan, or if they knew it only proves just how racially charged internment was.

    1. I’ll be honest, I thought the eye-widening section of the book was by far the hardest to read. You’re right about how hard these camps fought to erase any and all traces of its inhabitants’ Japanese identity. You’re also right about how important religion was to this family during their internment, especially Shinto-Buddhism for the mother. That being said, what did you think of Lily’s interactions with Christianity while she was in the camps? I personally thought it brought a really interesting perspective to the book.

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