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The Children Summary & Study Guide

Julie Otsuka
This Study Guide consists of approximately 21 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Children.
This section contains 440 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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The Children Summary & Study Guide Description

The Children Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on The Children by Julie Otsuka.

The following version of this story was used to create this study guide: Otsuka, Julie. “The Children.” The Story and Its Writer. Editor: Ann Charters. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2015. Pages 732 - 739.

The story is narrated through the collective perspective of women who immigrated from Japan to California. The women arrived in California with their husbands. The women and men lived as migrant workers, traveling around California in order to have consistent work on farms. The women gave birth to children. The families lived in poverty. Despite the fact that both the men and women worked in the fields, the men never helped the women with any household work or childcare. The men were generally inattentive, inconsiderate, and even hostile. The children were expected to help with the farm work as soon as they were physically able. The children found the work very painful and uncomfortable. Nonetheless, the children found ways to entertain themselves when they were not working. The children heard rumors about what life was like in the cities.

Life on the farms was sometimes dangerous for the children. Children died of varying causes, including illness, accidents, and disappearances. To make themselves feel safe, the children carried objects with them that they considered to be lucky. The women were often sexually objectified by their husbands. Additionally, if a woman was unable to have children, she was often shamed and persecuted by the men. The women with children worked hard to pass down as much knowledge and wisdom to their children as possibly in order to prepare the children for life. The families eventually moved to more urban environments. The children were placed in schools. There, they were timid and did not speak, as they had not yet acquired proficiency in English.

However, as time passed, the children learned English fairly rapidly. At the same time, they forgot all that they knew of the Japanese language, as well as Japanese religious and cultural customs. Meanwhile, the parents had difficulty learning English, and they worked hard to preserve the customs of their home country. As the children entered adolescence, the rifts between them and their parents grew wider. The children grew disdainful of Japanese culture and wished to be fully accepted by mainstream American society. However, because they were not white, they often experienced racial discrimination. Still, many of the children possessed dreams and aspirations for the future. The women believed that their children were not likely to achieve these aspirations, as they faced the adversities of poverty and racism. However, the women decided to not say anything that would disabuse the children of their aspirations.

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This section contains 440 words
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