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"Prisons of Silence" by Janice Mirikitani - Review.

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Introduction

"Prisons of Silence" by Janice Mirikitani American society, from its beginnings has a group of people - from wherever they are - coming together to live in a free, tolerant place. We see in the selected readings, that this is not the case. Is it simply one group who dislikes another? Is it culture colliding with culture? Through these stories we find that for as many different types of people we have in American society, so as many opinions, thoughts, preconceptions, and notions exist about one another. "Prisons of Silence" by Janice Mirikitani, uses language that so clearly defines what her feelings are, she expresses what it is like to be a Japanese American, with what can only be concluded was during the time of World War II and America's fight with Japan. As she starts, she uses the image of a wall. We see this image throughout her story, describing silence, her flesh, time, dust and more. Somehow, her life has built these barriers so as to shut her off from the rest of the world. She is referred to as Jap, filthy Jap! "Go home, Jap. Where is home?" (pg. ...read more.

Middle

They leave and head back to their part of town, stopping at their original departure point for an object lesson. Sylvia's (the narrator) best friend, Sugar asks the best question, "I don't think all of us here put together eat in a year what that sailboat costs." (pg. 647) The reply that she gets from her teacher compares the cost of the sailboat to the cost of feeding a family of six or seven. They understand that it really says something about a society where the poor never really have a fair chance at achieving what is considered the pinnacle in society. Sylvia presses Sugar to shut up and they all decide to spend the $4 on ice cream sodas and such. They run off and Sylvia decides to go her own way and think about what has happened. I would imagine that her place in society, as much as she lives in it, is not fixed. It can be moved and be shaped by what she does or does not do, in the future. Perhaps that is the lesson she learned. She has a choice and she can decide to be different. ...read more.

Conclusion

"Prisons of Silence" showed that even though we accepted members of country to live with us, to be one of us, our fears can consume us and make us turn our backs on the very people we try to help. It shows how important it is to speak up and not let fear and hatred overtake who we are. "The Lesson" allows us to see the other side of the fence, the people who are only across town, but as far as we are concerned could live in a third world country, for as much as we think or have contact with them. This makes a definite impact on how they see their place in society. "The Loudest Voice" gives us the understanding that no matter who were, you can always keep that identity and add your new experiences in American society to it and become a much richer human being. It's a personal decision to participate in American Society, one that has its ups and downs. It can be a personal journey that takes you to unexpected places. It forces you to accept new ideas and new ways of doing things. This is a hard transition for many to make. Some never do. No matter where a person fits in, there are always new areas to explore. ...read more.

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