Obasan: Dehumanization Embodied Through the Imagery of Animals Essay Sample

In today’s modern-day civilisation. there is an foolproof end product of dehumanisation. This has resulted from the common issue of racism which our universe has been covering with for a myriad of old ages. Racism is defined as a discriminatory act based upon the intolerance of those from a different race. This act of hatred is frequently found to be based on false beliefs and is hence considered to be highly unfair. This subject of dehumanisation is invariably seen throughout Joy Kogawa’s fresh Obasan in which she uses many images of animate beings in order to allegorically typify the adversities which Naomi’s household is put through. These images of spiders. kitties. and particularly poulets closely relate to the destitution of human existences during the eruption of World War II.

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The two spiders which Naomi and Obasan discover while groping through the Attic are symbolic of the awful memories that Naomi experienced as a kid. Naomi reacts to these spiders in a similar mode as to which she reacts to the memories of her childhood. Once she discovers these spiders. she is repulsed and in fright merely as she is repulsed by the memories which she discovers throughout the novel. Naomi has been affected by many people throughout her life-time. This includes her mother’s forsaking every bit good as the sexual maltreatment of Old Man Gower. The reminiscences of such events in her life bring Forth emotions which are rather dark and cheerless. Another reading of the two spiders can be seen as the dehumanisation which is set upon the Japanese-Canadians by the white Canadians. The 2nd spider appears to be “lighter in coloring material. its legs more muscular. striped and tapered” ( 25 ) and seems to be aggressive with the first. darker spider. This suggests laterality of the 2nd spider. which is viewed as the white Canadian. over the first spider which is viewed as the Japanese-Canadian. And merely like these spiders in the Attic. these memories will undoubtedly remain in Naomi’s life until the twenty-four hours that she passes.

The hideous image of the kitty being trapped underneath the privy corresponds with the abhorrent issue of racism which is systematically brought Forth in the fresh Obasan. Naomi is wrongly accused by a miss with white. all right hair. who happens to be the proprietor of the kitty. of holding thrown it into the privy. The fact that the grey miss does non even try to assist her kitty is rather dead set. “The kitten calls twenty-four hours after twenty-four hours. non rather dead…covered in sludge and feces” ( 172 ) . There is no 1 about to assist the kitty and. finally. it is forgotten. This image is parallel to that of the Canadian authorities conveying the Japanese-Canadians into concentration cantonments in effort to acquire rid of them. Merely as the kitty cried for aid. the Japanese-Canadians cried for justness and to be treated every bit among all other Canadians. Aunt Emily is an illustration of those who tried to move against the mistreatment of the Japanese-Canadians. She argued with the authorities by directing letters but ne’er seemed to have the recognition that she was bespeaking.

Kogawa uses the image of immature biddies and a biddy to heighten the subject of want for the Japanese-Canadians as they are striped of their human qualities. During this peculiar event. Naomi places a twelve biddies. one by one. into a coop where the biddy is kept. With no warning or ground for its action. the biddy begins to viciously assail the biddies. It systematically starts proding its beak down on them “deliberate as the acerate leaf on the stitching machine” ( 62-63 ) . By Naomi puting the biddies easy into the coop. it symbolizes the Nipponese easy immigrating to Canada and. without the Nipponese holding done anything incorrect. they are humiliated and ostracized simply because of their differences in visual aspect. Even though the Japanese-Canadians were non needfully killed by the white Canadians as the biddies were by the biddy. they were still treated with enormous debasement. They were dehumanized by the Canadians as they were sent to the concentration cantonments and forced to populate like animate beings in what had one time been a poulet henhouse.

The torture of poulets is used in the fresh Obasan to non merely demo the racism of the Canadians but to besides demo the choler which the Japanese community posses because of the agony that they are put through. For this image. several Japanese-Canadian schoolboys are gathered together and are working towards killing a white poulet. These immature male childs are filled with such bitterness and fury as they take pleasance in this ghastly act. Simply killing the hapless animate being is non plenty for them ; they’ve “got to do it suffer” ( 169 ) . They cut its pharynx. squished its caput. and allow it shed blood easy as it struggled for its life. This shows the intenseness and the effects of the adversities which these male childs were put through in order to go so destructive. However this peculiar image can be seen in contrary as the poulet is seen as the Nipponese people and the schoolboys as the Canadians. In this instance. the white Canadians are doing the Japanese-Canadians suffer alternatively of merely killing or behaving them as this would set a damper on the Canadian image.

Joy Kogawa’s fresh Obasan uses images of different animate beings to demo the connexion between the manner these animate beings were treated and viewed and that of the manner human existences were treated after the unfortunate bombardment at Pearl Harbour. Naomi comes across many feared memories of her childhood as she and her household are discriminated upon and mistreated because of their race. This act of racism is still normally used in today’s society. The grounds as to why this act is still practised are wholly baseless. There is no true alibi for it. Peoples should non look at each community and decipher whether it is good or bad. Alternatively. they should simply accept the differences and encompass them.


Kogawa. Joy. Obasan. Random House. Inc. . 1994.


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