Drastic Effects Of War In Otsuka's When The Emperor Was Divine

655 words - 3 pages

In times of war society tends to exaggerate national security measures by categorizing foreigners and immigrants as threats. During WWII many families were torn apart just for being Japanese-Americans. The excerpt from Julie Otsuka’s “When the Emperor was Divine” illustrates the traumatic events experienced by a young boy, and how his innocent mind attempts to cope with the painful loss of his father. Through literary techniques such as imagery, symbolism, and diction, Otsuka projects the false hope of a boy yearning to once more feel the presence of his father.
Otsuka’s use of imagery allows the reader to experience the pain that the boy is going through. “[He] pressed his fingers into the smooth oval depressions left behind by his fathers’ toes” The boy misses his father so much that he turns to his old shoes to remember his scent. This image provokes a feeling of loss and desperation, like as if the boy knew that his father was not coming back. He even goes onto fantasizing the day in which he would finally see his father. “He’d open the door and see his father standing there in his white flannel bathrobe all covered with dust.” The image of the boys father being taken away in his “white flannel robe” is so deeply engraved in the boys mind that that’s just about the only that he can picture him. The boys’ father was taken away by the FBI in a very demeaning manner; he was striped of his dignity and his family.
The fathers many belongings seem to all have a significant meaning to the boy and his father. “The shoes were black Oxfords,” those were shoes that the boys’ father left behind because he never had the chance to put them on. He had to leave with the battered and faded slippers with “the rubber soles curling up at the edges,” something that he had probably never would have done. The shoes symbolized the father’s dignity...

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