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Obasan | Study Guide

Joy Kogawa

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Obasan | Chapter Summaries

See Chapter Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1933

    Mark Nakane marries Nesan Kato.

    Chapter 4
  • 1933

    Stephen is born.

    Chapter 4
  • 1936

    Naomi is born.

    Chapter 4
  • September 1941

    Mother and Grandma Kato leave for Japan.

    Chapter 12
  • February 1942

    Uncle is taken away by government officials.

    Chapter 14
  • April 1942

    Father disappears.

    Chapter 14
  • May 22, 1942

    Naomi, Stephen, and Obasan go to Slocan internment camp.

    Chapter 15
  • 1943

    Uncle arrives in Slocan.

    Chapter 19
  • June 1943

    Rough Lock Bill saves Naomi from drowning.

    Chapter 21
  • Early autumn of 1945

    Father arrives in Slocan.

    Chapter 24
  • May 1945

    World War II ends.

    Chapter 24
  • 1945

    Japanese Canadians are given the choice to move east of the Rockies or go to Japan.

    Chapter 25
  • 1945

    Uncle, Obasan, Naomi, and Stephen are sent to a beet farm near Granton.

    Chapter 26
  • 1945

    Father dies.

    Chapter 31
  • 1949

    Restrictions against Japanese Canadians are lifted.

    Chapter 32
  • 1951

    Naomi and her family move to a house in town.

    Chapter 32
  • 1952

    Stephen leaves to study school in Toronto.

    Chapter 33
  • September 13, 1972

    Uncle dies.

    Chapter 2
  • September 14, 1972

    Stephen and Aunt Emily return to Obasan's house.

    Chapter 3
  • 1972

    Naomi learns that her mother was disfigured in the bombing of Nagasaki.

    Chapter 38

Chapter Summaries Chart

Chapter Summary
Prologue–Chapter 3 The novel's prologue begins with the following words: "There is a silence that cannot speak. There is a silence that w... Read More
Chapters 4–6 Naomi urges Obasan to rest but knows the old woman will only do so when she decides she is ready. Her aunt keeps repea... Read More
Chapters 7–9 Naomi quickly learns what is inside the parcel Obasan found, although Obasan does not recall when it arrived. It conta... Read More
Chapters 10–12 As Obasan holds the family photo, Naomi thinks that of her as "the old woman of many Japanese legends," waiting for "t... Read More
Chapters 13–15 One of Naomi's last pleasant memories is of the Nakane and Kato families proudly looking on as Naomi and her brother p... Read More
Chapters 16–18 The action shifts forward twenty years, to 1962. At Aunt Emily's urging, she, Uncle, Obasan, and Naomi are on a trip t... Read More
Chapters 19–21 Soon after the first snowfall in Slocan, the family gets good news. First, Uncle Sam will be joining them. And second,... Read More
Chapters 22–24 Naomi is in the hospital after her near-drowning. She is plagued by nightmares that involve her father, who is still i... Read More
Chapters 25–27 Before the family has time to enjoy the return of Father and the end of the war, word comes that the Japanese Canadian... Read More
Chapters 28–30 It is 1945. Naomi, Stephen, Obasan, and Uncle arrive in Lethbridge, Alberta. It is an unattractive, dust-filled town t... Read More
Chapters 31–33 In this brief chapter Naomi goes to the swamp, where she finds a frog with a broken leg. Stephen appears and tells her... Read More
Chapters 34–36 Once again in 1972 Naomi and Obasan receive a condolence visit from Mr. Barker, the beet farmer they once worked for, ... Read More
Chapters 37–39 Slowly, the truth of what happened to Naomi's mother Nesan and Grandma Kato is revealed. They had arrived in Japan to ... Read More
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