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Brittney Robertson

on 29 October 2014

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Milton Murayama
Milton Murayama is a Japanese-American Nisei novelist and playwright. He was born in Maui, Hawai'i to Japanese immigrant parents from Kyushu in 1923. When he was about 12, his family moved to a sugar plantation camp at Pu'ukoli'i. His experiences served as the inspiration for his writing. He served in the Territorial Guard after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. He later attended Columbia University where he wrote the first draft of his novella
All I Asking for Is My Body.
The novella follows the life of Kiyoshi “Kiyo” Oyama who lives with his family on a sugar plantation in Hawai’i. He lives with his father, mother, older brother Tosh and his three younger sisters Miwa, Tsuneko and Takako. Kiyo’s father had accumulated a debt of 6,000 during the great depression. His father relies on Tosh, the filial son, to pay off his debt as it is Japanese tradition that the children pay off family debts. Tosh is repulsed by this idea and wants to live his own life. Soon Kiyo finds himself searching for the same independence that his brother is literally fighting for.
The main protagonist and narrator of the story. Kiyo is the second oldest child and the favored son out of the family.

Tosh is the oldest boy who is considered rebellious by his parents because his desire is to live his life by his own terms.

Tosh and Kiyo’s father, a fisherman, who accumulated a debt of $6,000 during the great depression

Tosh and Kiyo’s sick mother who sew kimonos and pulled out all her teeth.

Kiyo’s grandmother who dies from a stroke. When she dies, she is considered the substitute by Kiyo's mother, thus ending the family curse.

A boy Kiyo used to play with that his parents disapproved of because Makot’s mother is a prostitute.

Mr. Snooks
Kiyo’s haole teacher who questions Japanese tradition and the plantation structure

Mr. Nelson
The owner of the plantation

Filial Piety
A Confucian philosophy that centers on the idea of respecting one’s parents and ancestors. Discipline and respect is heavily required of the children in the novella. Tosh is considered rebellious because he doesn’t want to be responsible for the debt his father accumulated.

Gender Roles
Tosh is constantly saying that his parents should not educate the girls because they are useless, will not be able to financially provide for the family, and will marry into another family anyway. Japanese women are subservient to their husbands. They leave their family to join their husbands.

The story takes place between and after Pearl Harbor in which a lot of Japanese-Americans were ostracized by white Americans and other ethnic groups on the island.

Kiyo and his family live on a plantation. On the plantation exists a hierarchy in which the Spanish and Portuguese are at the top and are followed by the Japanese. The Filipinos are at the bottom of the system.

"...It was set up like a pyramid. At the top was Mr. Nelson, then the Portugues and Spanish...then the identical wooden farm houses of the Japanese, then the more run-down Fillipino Camp."

Tosh accuses his grandfather of taking the hard earned money from his children and leaving. What do you think of the idea of respecting one's parents even if their past and present actions are questionable?

When the Filipino workers strike, Mr. Nelson turns to the Japanese youth for work resulting in the failure of the strike. Why do you believe minorites cannot see how a plantation system or capitalist society plays against them?

Should the idea of self-determination be limited to the men of the family?

If you were in the same situation as Kiyo's parents, would you force your kids to work or would you send them to school?
"Why is he so unfilial? What did we do wrong? Why isn't he like the other number one sons?"
"...I get so angry sometimes. All I asking for is my body. I not even asking them to send me to high school."
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