Toyo Miyatake Picture Analysis

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During World War II, after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans in the western United States were forced into internment camps because the government felt as though the Japanese were dangerous if they were not relocated. These camps were usually in poor condition and in deserted areas of the nation. The Japanese were forced to make the best of their situation and thus the adults farmed the land and tried to maximize leisure while children attempted to enjoy childhood. The picture of the internee majorettes, taken by internee and photographer Toyo Miyatake, shows sixteen girls standing on bleachers while posing in front of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range and desolate Manzanar background. Their faces show mixed expressions of happiness, sadness and indifference, and their attire is elegant and American in style. With the image of these smiling girls in front of the desolate background, Miyatake captures an optimistic mood in times of despair. Though this photograph is a representation of the Manzanar internment camp and, as with most representations, leaves much unsaid, the majorette outfits and smiling faces give a great deal of insight on the cooperative attitudes of Japanese Americans and their youth's desire to be Americanized in this time. The smiling faces of the posing girls relay a sense of acceptance of their given situation, and their ability to find happiness in the bleakest of circumstances. The camp life was awful, but many Japanese, though frustrated and depressed, went along with what the government asked of them. Their conforming behavior was a result of the catch 22(a situation in which they were damned if they did and damned if they didn't) they were in. Because Japan bombed Pearl ... ... middle of paper ... ... have been made to pay for all the costs of the imprisoned and impoverished Japanese when they were released from camp. The compensation they were offered added insult to injury and was not nearly enough to keep the released internees alive. Had the Japanese not been able to recover from their degradation, the United States would most likely have been forced to make reparations for the harm they had caused to their people. Works Cited Days of Waiting. Dir. Steven Okazaki. Perf. Estelle Ishigo. Dimension of Culture 3 Lecture, University of California, San Diego, Spring 2010. 16 April 2010. History And Memory. Dir Rea Tajiri. Dimensions of Culture 3 Lecture, University of California, San Diego, Spring 2010. 19 April 2010. Miyatake, Toyo. Internee Majorettes.c. 1943. Dimensions of Culture 3, University of California, San Diego. Web. 18 April 2010.

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