Gasa Gasa Girl Goes to Camp is really a coming of age story during Japanese internment in the United states. The story focuses on Lily Yuriko Nakai Havey, a japanese woman who lived in the camps during the early stages of her life. One of the central themes of the book is the idea of innocence and innocence lost. While at the beginning of the book she arrives at Santa Anita relocation centers, she thinks that it is just a camping trip with tents. She was unaware of the other oppression that was on display right before her eyes due to her age. Even for ere it was a drastic change from her initial childhood in Hollywood in a idealer life than living in the camps.
A few events during her time in the camps jump out as indicative of a larger issue in the camps. First, a riot that occurred when the guards confiscated hot plates for heating up milk for babies. The idea that they would just steal these necessary items from mothers seems just cruel. Also how the camps seeked to establish a bit of self reliance for their own sake. That the government that they were required to swear allegiance to was imprisoning them and then would not provide the ample amount of supplies to be able to live in their conditions. For example, they established a communal farm to improve their food. They also had to work jobs to keep their lifly hoods under these worsening conditions. While her mother had to act as a sewing teacher the father, who was strange and distant from the family, had to work in agricultural work for the war effort.
By the end of her time in the camps, there was a profound culture shock when thinking about and eventually returning to regular life. With such sudden eviction and forces to live in confinement for years, it is a strange sensation to return to the real world. They could no longer return to her home and was now set adrift to figure it all out. This book was an interesting exploration of the experience of Japanese internments. What I found interesting and what it demonstrates well is how bad it really was to be forced into these camps. It is wrong that the American government forces people out of fear and racism into these squalor conditions without due process and a total disregard for these Japanese people’s rights.
As for your last paragraph, I thought the fact that the “real” world would be a culture shock Yuriko was interesting, considering how many of the older adults remembered the outside with much more fondness and actual memories. I know that if I stayed in one place for a third of my life, especially at such a young age, I would most likely only identify with that one location as well. Yuriko provided another perspective to her own desire to leave the camp for several years; she was scared to re-enter a world that she barely knew, and in which Japanese people in general were still enemies to America. American government twisted their image once before, making them seen appear as sneaky spies, and later changed that perception into one of a studious American Citizen after the war.