October 12, 2011

Internment Camp Presentation

We did projects in Language Arts for the book called "When the Emperor Was Divine" by Julie Otsuka. The first part of this is the script for the movie I made for my project. The second part is my script for when I presented my project:


“I joined the war for my country. I wanted to be patriotic. I wanted to do what was right. I thought joining in the war was right! Our country was supposed to be the best country! We were all supposed to be treated equally and fairly. I joined the war to preserve our country’s philosophy! What they did to Japanese Americans was worse than unpatriotic. It was barbaric and cruel!! Japanese Americans have been treated terribly since the war. Even though the war ended 2 years ago, Japanese Americans still don’t get the respect they deserve. All those people, herded into horse stalls and sheds. I know. I was there. On one of the many camp bound trains. There were so many people. So similar, yet so different. Some were asleep, while others laughed joyously. Some stared at me with all the hatred they could muster, while most refused to look at me at all. None of them talked to me. Not one. Except for the girl.

We would have them put their shades down while the train rolled through towns in order for villagers not to see them, get angry, and throw things at the train windows. Even though we took this precaution, a rock was thrown at the train, and a brick smashed through one of the windows as well. As I strolled through the train car one day, saying “shades down, shades down”, I spotted a young girl peering out a sunlit window. I laid a hand on her shoulder and reminded her “shades down”. She looked up and stared into my eyes. I will never forget the look on her face. She was studying me. I could almost see the gears in her brain turning, figuring me out. Judging me by my face. The way white Americans have judged her. I held her gaze. She seemed so innocent, sitting there in her seat, evaluating my eyes. They all seemed innocent. They all were innocent. Every one of them. I continued my walk along the train. “Yes, Sir” the girl whispered. I did not turn back. But I heard her. I heard. ”


I chose number 77 on that great big list of ideas Maggie so generously gave us. The idea was “retell a part of the story from a different point of view”. The reason I picked this idea was because there were many scenes in the book that were illustrated from a specific point of view when there are always two (and often more) points of views too take into account. I wanted to choose a scene where there were people whose lives were so different and who played extremely opposite roles in that time period so the points of views would be either startlingly different, or maybe more similar than suspected. I decided to pick a scene involving military personnel and a Japanese-American. The most powerful of these scenes (for me) was the train ride. This scene involved a soldier and his confrontation with the girl. The soldier seemed like he was regretting something. At least the way the girl described him. It seemed as if there was something he was going to say, but then changed his mind. In my opinion, the first part of this video illustrates what was going through his mind at the time. What he wanted to say, but didn’t have the courage to.

In our culture, in order for a story to be satisfying to us, there has to be the quintessential “bad guy”, and this “bad guy” has to be defeated. Even if the story is true. If this does not happen in a story, we walk away feeling deflated and ripped off. “That was good, but the ending was terrible.” we say. “I kept waiting for the guy to come back to life and defeat the evil tyrant! And he was supposed to get the girl!! What about her?” But what if that bad guy isn’t bad? In World War II, the government did terrible things to Japanese Americans, absolutely!! But can a group of humans that large all have the same opinion, and all be greedy, power-seeking morons??? I would hope that there would be at least someone with a little humanity! Didn’t someone feel like they were doing the wrong thing?

Taking this optimistic point of view, I wanted the soldier to feel bad. I needed him to feel bad! In order for our country’s actions to be justified in my mind, I needed him to feel guilt. Of course this video justifies nothing, but it makes me wonder...how many of the bad guy are really bad?


  1. This is great Tillie.... I especially liked your script for presenting your project. It had a great point that "bad guys" usually have a reputation that they are always bad, and that they always disagree with the "good guys". In this case, you proved that although the soldier wasn't trying to help the Japanese-Americans, it doesn't mean that he didn't want to help them.

  2. TILLIE!! My commenting works!! YAYYY!!! Anyway, I absolutely loved your presentation. It was very clever to dress up as the soldier; a role in the internment camps that was almost always labeled 'the bad guy'. I loved to see your point of view on the book, and your thoughts of the soldier! :)

  3. Tillie, that last comment was by me, Signe. Madeline forgot to sign out, so my comment was accidentally labeled by Madeline. HAHA!

  4. Thanks so much guys!!!! Girls I mean!!! I am extremely appreciative of your nifty and supportive feedback!!! I was a little confused about who was saying' what for a minute there, but I understand now! Thanks again!!!