Obasan Essay

Megumi Naomi Nakane, an innocent Child Essay In Joy Kogawa’s Obasan, Naomi is an innocent child who suffers a great deal throughout the novel. The adults of the Nakane family go through a lot of trouble to protect Naomi’s innocence just so Naomi could have a childhood like any other child. However much the adults tried, Naomi still sees the dark side of the world at an early age. Naomi does not understand some things that take place in her life and therefore, she finds toys and stories as a vent to express her emotions.
In this novel, Naomi’s innocence is crucial seeing that throughout the novel she is baffled and unsure about the incidents that occur in her life in addition to that she has to suffer for incidents she does not comprehend. To begin, the elders in Naomi’s family endure a lot of pain at the hands of the Canadian government to shield Naomi as best they can. Everybody in Naomi’s house is looking out for her. As Naomi narrates, “Whatever [uncle] was intending to tell me ‘someday’ has not yet been told” which clarifies that uncle has been keeping something from her to shield her from all the wrongs in the world (Kogawa 3).
Later on in the novel, it is read that similar to everyone in the family uncle has been concealing the fact that Naomi’s mother had been brutally injured from the bombing at Nagasaki and also that following the injuries Naomi’s mother had died after a while. Uncle believes that if he were to tell all the details about Naomi’s mother’s death, then Naomi would be heartbroken. This is because afterwards in the novel, it is discovered that Naomi and her mother had a very close mother and daughter relationship.

Another similar incident is when Obasan remains silent while Naomi asks questions “‘Please tell me about mother’ [Naomi] would say as a child to Obasan… but she gave [Naomi] no answer…” (26). This quotation demonstrates that Obasan did not give Naomi any answers about her mother because Naomi would be grief-stricken upon learning the truth. Naomi’s mother is the one person she felt safe with and if she were to realize that her ultimate protector is no longer alive, she would feel threatened and alone in the world.
It also illustrates that Obasan kept her word as Naomi’s “[mother] had requested that Stephen and [Naomi] be spared the truth” (259). This quotation illustrates Naomi’s mother’s love and guardianship towards her children. Also from this quotation it is understood that Naomi and her mother’s bond is so powerful that her mother being overseas still knows that the truth must be kept from Naomi in order for her to continue living her childhood without trouble. All the adults in the Nakane family were completely determined to keep Naomi’s innocence intact, which made them to keep the truth from her. Stephen and I are unconcerned with such worries and life for us is a quiet and pleasant holiday” this illustrates that Naomi is frequently left in the dark because the adults believe that she is too young to handle the upsetting truth (149). Consequently, Naomi lacks key facts and whenever she tries to comprehend an incident she gets tangled up by her lack of understanding and thus remains an innocent child. To proceed, Naomi as a young child believes in fairy tales and plays with dolls which advocate her feelings when she cannot find a way to express them on her own.
As Naomi states in the novel, “Clearly we are the bear family in this strange house in the middle of the woods. I am the baby bear…” it reveals that Naomi as a child is confused about the issues that upset her family as she tries to understand their problems using characters from stories that she has read (136). It is shown that Naomi channels her own feeling into her toys as she says “…the doll is quite happy and excited about the train trip” (124).
In this excerpt, it is obvious that Naomi is talking about herself rather than the doll. It shows that Naomi is innocent as she does not know the complete truth and believes that she is just going for a ride on the train which excites her. Following that, after getting off the train, Naomi proclaims that her doll is lost as she asks Obasan “where is my doll? ” (128). Since Naomi’s mother gave her that doll, its absence can be associated with the separation she feels between herself and her mother, the ideal defender of her innocence.
It is vivid that Naomi is an innocent child which is exemplified through her thoughts about fairies helping her “I am in a grade two reader full of fairies, sitting in the forest very still and waiting for one fairy… to come flying… and lead me down to the moss-covered door on the forest that opens to the tunnel leading to the place where my mother and father are hiding” (164). This quotation illustrates Naomi’s distress about the disturbing thoughts that come into her mind when she thinks about her parents also, she feels helpless at the hands of other powerful figures like the RCMP in Canada.
Therefore, Naomi as a young child believes that her only hope is a mythical creature like a fairy that might help her locate her parents much like a child who believes in Santa Clause’s existence. Naomi is too young to interpret the reality and the difficulties of her and her family’s lives as they do not affect her much, proving that she is undoubtedly an innocent child. Lastly, Naomi is a helpless child who had to see the different side of the world too soon for her age.
In the novel, Naomi declares that “Again and again the hen’s beak strikes and the chick lies on its side on the floor, its neck twisted back, its wings, outstretched fingers. The hen lifts a scaly leg, the claws collapsing and clutching as it struts around the cage, bayoneting the chicks darting past Naomi’s feet, their wings outspread. ” (63). Naomi’s fate is represented by the chicks as she is a defenseless being, practically powerless against the Canadian government’s attacks on her family. She is a guiltless child being punished by the government for no legitimate reason.
Later on in the Novel, Naomi’s neighbor Old Man Gower who “carries her away, he tells [her] she must not tell [her] mother. ” as she puts it (65). Exhibiting the fact that Naomi is a vulnerable subject of Old Man Gower’s sexual attacks. Also, Naomi was devastated as she could not seek the protection of her mother for she was ashamed of herself and also that Old Man Gower had asked her not to talk about anything to her mother. Therefore, she is an innocent child suffering in her own grief and confusion at a very young age.
Subsequently, the reoccurring nightmare that Naomi has about the “three oriental woman that lay naked in the muddy road… and several soldiers… [Who] appeared to be guarding those women… prisoners …” is crucial to understand the abuse she suffered at the hands of Old Man Gower (66). The women in her dream are defenseless against the armed men reflecting upon her own experience as a victim of her neighbor. In the novel, it is portrayed that Naomi is unprotected and vulnerable when exposed to matters that only adults should be aware of.
All in all, Naomi’s innocence is a significant feature in her childhood as the adults in the Nakane family shield Naomi with their resolute endurance. An examination of the adults’ role in Naomi’s life reveals that they are essential because they try their best to protect her from the unlighted side of the world. After analyzing Naomi’s involvement with her toys or fairy tales it is revealed that she is unclear with the events occurring around her and henceforth turns to her dolls or fairy tales for an explanation or a solution for her questions.
Naomi’s discovery about abuse highlights that Naomi is a young child being exposed to something inappropriate as she has yet to develop a sense of right or wrong in the world. In Joy Kogawa’s Novel, Obasan, Naomi is a naive child who is bewildered and agitated throughout the novel considering that she does not have experience of the life outside the protection of her parents. **** Works Cited Kogawa, Joy. Obasan. 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4P 2Y3: Penguin Group, 1981. Print.

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