No-No Boy by John Okada is the first novel published by an Asian American author. Okada uses a fictional character, Ichiro, to explore the emotional struggles of the young Japanese American men and women who were interned and then imprisoned by answering “no” to the two loyalty questions of whether they would fight against and renounce Japan during WWII, (hence the name “no-no boy”). It is a story of the guilt and anguish of a no-no boy as he struggles to find his identity upon returning home from prison. Similar to the Victorian’s novelist’s use of light to frame their characters’ reflections, Okada organizes the protagonist’s psychological journey to wholeness by using specific movement paths or routes that lead into his inner reflections. He defines Ichiro’s bicultural tensions through layers of contrasts that include a motif of directional schemes as an innovative literary function. Okada sets Ichiro, his protagonist, on various physical paths that introduce and develop his individual contemplations. He also utilizes specific regional topographical imagery to honestly reflect the turmoil and duality of Ichiro’s Japanese American identity struggle. Okada’s literary approach emphasizes the dichotomy of the Japanese American conflict as an intricate and winding journey with many avenues of unique social and psychological issues.
Streets of Despair and Blocks of Hope in John Okada’s No-No Boy.
Undergraduate Review, 5, 166-169.
Available at: https://vc.bridgew.edu/undergrad_rev/vol5/iss1/33
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