The novel No-no Boy by John Okada tells about the life of Japanese-Americans in America after the World War II. The novel's main protagonist was Ichiro, a Japanese-American who was of a Japanese blood but was born in the United States. Amongst other Japanese-Americans in the novel, Ichiro went through the unfortunate racial discrimination being experienced by most minorities of a country, as well as the struggle of finding self-identity.
The title No-no boy refers to Ichiro, as well as to the other Japanese-Americans, who chose not to join the American army and who chose not to be manipulated by the Americans who betrayed the Japanese race. The novel tells of the struggle of a different race living in another nation, and who tries to separate and reconcile between their identity and their need to maintain loyalty to the nation where they are presently living. Ichiro finds it a struggle and a complicated situation to understand the concepts of racial identity and belongingness to a nation that doesn't seem to welcome a different race like his.
Okada had effectively written the novel as it is a moving story of immigrants who cry for equality and rejects the injustice of racial discrimination. Any reader who will read the novel, whether he is of an American race, Asian, or any race, will likely to feel sympathy to the foreign races living in the U.S.
Okada vividly showed a representation of racial discrimination even from the very beginning of the novel wherein the town was divided into groupings of different races.
He also showed how even non-American races show racial discrimination to other minorities. This was depicted when the black Americans taunt the Japanese-Americans. Here, Okada only illustrates how having a different race can present undermining challenges in a nation like America. The readers, particularly those who are familiar with the American culture concerning racial discrimination, can consider that Okada's novel is a story of reality that immigrants may experience in the land they have dreamt to become a part of and be accepted as citizens who are not different from the majority of the population.
The race of Ichiro, being a Japanese, and his citizenship as an American place him in a suffering where he is unable to choose which among the two will he make as a dominating identity of himself. Added to this predicament in his search for identity is the strong nationalism of his mother who fervently embodies the Japanese culture, tradition, and nationality. Because of this, a clash emerged between Ichiro and his mother.
From Ichiro's situation, Okada showed how hard it is for a stranger in a foreign land to choose between his own culture and the new culture that he ought to embrace just because he is already a part of that new land. To Ichiro, his loyalty to his own culture and his loyalty to the new land where he already belongs was put to test. Perhaps, Okada tries to depict from Ichiro's situation that race is an important element that is directly linked to a nation, in that race can either make one feel a sense of belongingness to a nation, or, it can make one feel a stranger to a foreign land. As indicated by Hopestobe, from his article concerning race and nation in Okada's No-No Boy, pointing on the clash concerning Ichiro's issues on race and nation,
The idea that…