Silence are the words that are not said, rather then the words that are chosen. It is the fear of the truth as well as hiding from it. In the novel Obasan by Joy Kogawa, silence is a part of a culture and is a larger part of a family. The character Naomi allows silence to over come her life, which allows her to remain tortured inside the internment camp of her own body. Although the family is living in another country, the traditions to Japan are still very strong.In the U.
S. silence is generally looked upon as passive while Japan it traditionally signals pensiveness, alertness, and sensitivity. Growing up with Obasan and her Uncle, Naomi was raised and taught to respect silence. Naomi remains extremely quiet about her childhood under the guidance of her aunt. A major truth she hides is her molestation. She was taught not to lash back at adults and to do what they say. At this moment, she learned dis-trust.
The incidents with him happened more than once, yet she remained silent.This, for Naomi, drew her apart from her mother, leaving something between them that could not be discussed or mentioned. Before this event, they had sort of a silent communication, and now she misses that. This is similar to the hen and chick incident where the mother hen pecks at the baby chicks. She now can see a tare between mother and daughter she couldn’t see before. “…They are the eyes that protect, shielding what’s hidden most deeply in the heart of a child”(p. 59).
There was no longer this link between her and her mother after the shame of her losing innocence. Naomi remains silent for so long that, “silence within her small body has grown large and powerful,” (p. 14) just as it did for Obasan. She lives her life miserable after all she has been through but must remain silent about. Unlike Aunt Emily, Obasan believes that speaking about and confronting the fact that the Canadians interned the Japanese will not bring about justice but only sadness, an emotion she does not express because “the language of er grief is silence. She has learned it well, its idioms, and its nuances. ” (p.
14) Being raised by Obasan created the life Naomi has now. She lives in a world where she has no love in her life, or anyone to be honest with. But for Naomi the silence could not continue when she seeks for the truth about her mother which she had all along. Naomi learns about her mother’s tragedy through the letters between Grandma and Grandpa Kato she received from Emily.She has known that her mother’s grave had been found but Naomi never knew that her mother was badly hurt in the bombings of Nagasaki when she was helping her cousin Setsuko with her new baby Chieko, who looked just like Emily. After the bombing Naomi’s mother and the baby were both in the hospital. Naomi’s mother was badly injured and the baby had leukemia.
Since the baby looked like Naomi there was a connection to her and for the first time the communication between Naomi and her mother are open again.This allows Naomi to begin speaking to her, even though she was not there. But after reading those letters Naomi broke the silence because now she knows the truth and she can finally communicate. In Obasan, Naomi is tortured by the silence of the truth. She is unable to speak of what is true and can not find out what is real due to the absence of her mother and having to be risen by her Obasan. After she does learn the truth, she does not feel tortured any more because she can find the comfort of communication with her mother, a connection she has missed for years.