What specific characteristics and generalizations can be said about a good father?
Throughout history, fathers have had the responsibility of protecting and caring for their families. A good father is someone who always makes sure his families’ best interests are at hand. A good father not only loves his children, but also does anything in his control to insure his children’s safety and well being. In the novel, Farewell to Manzanar, Papa Wakatsuki exhibits several qualities that lead the reader to believe that he is an excellent father. Papa Wakatsuki works very hard as a commercial fisherman in order to put food on the table for his wife and ten children. Papa stresses education and obviously wants only the best for his family.
It is evident that Papa is a man of authority and extremely loyal to Japan as well as the United States. Papa is a very authoritative man, who enjoys being in charge of his family and throughout the entire novel his loyalty to his family and country is evident to the reader.
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Papa enjoys being the head of the Wakatsuki household in the beginning of the novel. He takes a real pride in commanding his own fishing boat and giving orders to his sons. In many ways, Papa was the backbone of the Wakatsuki family. When the government takes Papa away from his family in the beginning of the novel, Papa very casually leaves with the men. Papa does not protest, nor does he struggle. Papa leads the two men out the door. Papa is showing his family that things will be all right, and he is still very much in control of the situation. The last thing Papa wants to do is look weak in front of his family. Jeanne recalls the situation by saying, "But he still had dignity, and he would not let those deputies push him out the door. He led them."(6).
Although Papa’s parenting is sometimes strict, Papa knows what is best for his children. There are several instances in the novel in which Papa’s children do not realize until later in life, that the decisions Papa made for them turned out to be the right decisions. An example of Papa’s strict decision making is shown in Jeanne’s desire to become baptized into the Catholic Church. Jeanne does not realize until much later in life, Papa’s decision of not allowing her to become baptized, was in fact the correct decision. Jeanne admits this towards the end of the novel by saying, "He was right, of course. I did not know what I was getting myself into. Years later I silently thanked him for forcing me to postpone such decisions until I was old enough to think for myself."(85). Papa was not only a very authoritative man, but he was also a very loyal man as well.
Papa was not only loyal to the United State, but to Japan as well. Papa is descended from samurais, the class just below nobility in Japan. Papa also served in the Japanese military at the age of seventeen. There are several instances in the book, such as Papa feeling rejuvenated after singing the Japanese National Anthem, that reassure the reader Papa has strong ties to his homeland, even though he would never consider returning to Japan. When asked whom he would want to win in a war between Japan and the United States Papa is quoted as saying, "When your mother and your father are having a fight, do you want them to kill each other? Or do you just want them to stop fighting?"(46). This shows that even though Papa left Japan at the age of seventeen to never return, he still feels a strong tie to his native land. Not only did Papa feel an extreme loyalty to Japan, but at the start of the novel Papa also had similar feeling towards the United States as well. Papa’s imprisonment at Manzanar however, left Papa in disarray and with a feeling of betrayal. When asked by an interrogator if Papa was loyal to Japan or its Emperor, Papa’s response was, "I have been living in this country nine years longer that you have. Do you realize that? Yet I am prevented by law from becoming a citizen. I am prevented by law from owning land. I am now separated from my family without a cause"(45). In a sense all of Papa’s rights have been stripped. Papa now feels homeless and almost in a way worthless. Throughout the novel PapaТs loyalty for the United States slowly begins to fade.
Papa Wakatsuki was not only a man of authority and a cornerstone for his family, but also an extremely loyal man who held ties not only to Japan, his homeland, but to the United States of America as well. Papa yearned for purpose in his life and hated to feel unneeded. Papa was a good father and displayed several traits that distinguished him as the patriarch of his family. Papa’s military background in Japan allowed him to keep some since of loyalty towards his homeland, but Papa realized that his home was in the United States. Papa’s imprisonment at Manzanar led to his sense of feeling worthless. Papa felt betrayed and forgotten, thus causing him to die a broken and homeless man.
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