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Pat Swenson, CSUN - So Far From the Bamboo Grove
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Prof Pat Swenson

Campus Email: pat.swenson@csun.edu

Elements of Fiction

Literary Theory

Myth & Archetype: The Hero's Quest

ProfPat's Main Page

ProfPat's Education Links

Department Information

Department of English

708 Sierra Tower
Phone: 818.677.3431

English Department Website

Liberal Studies Program

EA 100
Phone: 818.677.3300

Liberal Studies Website

So Far From The Bamboo Grove by Yoko Kawashima Watkins



Yoko Kawashima, Ko Kawashima, Mother Kawashima, Hideyo Kawashima, Father Kawashima

Corporal Matsumura, Doctor Takeda, Mr. & Mrs. Masuda, The Kim Family

Sagano Girls' School: Students, Teachers, Principle, Mr. Naido


Person-against-self - an internal conflict of feelings.

Person-against-person - the typical protagonist vs. antagonist scenario.

Person-against-society - the protagonist battles against the larger organizations of society
(or a system of beliefs held by society).

Person-against-nature - the protagonist is threatened by a component of nature.


Human Nature in WWII

Refugees/Displaced Persons

Struggle & Determination

Compassion vs. Cruelty

Loyalty vs. Disloyalty

Customs & Honor

Friendship, Love, & Devotion

Setting & Geography: Korea & Japan

Korea: Nanam, Seoul, Pusan, 38th Parallel

Japan: Kyoto, Maizuru, Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Aomori, Tokyo

China/U.S.S.R: Manchuria, Vladivostok

The Waterways: Korean Strait, Tsushima Strait, Sea of Japan, Imjon River, Yellow Sea, Pacific Ocean

History of the Region

Sino-Japanese War

The Treaty of Portsmouth

Pearl Harbor

The Atomic & Hydrogen Bombs

Korean War

Formation of North & South Korea

Discussion Questions & Student Activities

1. In So Far from the Bamboo Grove, Yoko is a child exposed to the horrors of World War II. Visualize a picture of Yoko's wartime life. What images would effectively express Yoko's emotions and experiences? (Consider Yoko's age and lifestyle)

2. List several qualities of survivors (and heroes) and analyze the kinds of behavior survivors display. Discuss how Yoko, Ko and Hideyo survive hardship.

3. Discuss why groups of people sometimes reject others and treat them as outsiders (and sometimes less than human). Discuss some ways in which people respond to such rejection.

4. What do you value most about your personal freedom?

5. So Far from the Bamboo Grove describes Yoko's journey from Nanam to Kyoto and suggests her journey from childhood to young adulthood. Consider your own "life journey." Reflect on the events that you consider most important in shaping your life.

6. Discuss the definition of refugee: "one who flees in search of refuge, as from war or political oppression." How would your life change if you suddenly became a "refugee?" Where would you go? What would you do? Who could you depend on for help?

7. The Kawashimas must leave home fast, taking only what they can carry in backpacks. If you were in a similar situation, what would you take? Make a list of items, including food, that you would need for two days as evacuees. Explain your choice of items.