Self Identity in A Tale for the Time Being

As we’ve been reading more and more of the novel, I’ve been very interested in how Nao and Ruth define their nationality and how that then relates to their personality. On one hand, Nao, who grew up for most of her childhood in America, strongly considers herself to be American. There have been many occurrences of Nao explaining her unfamiliarity with a certain part of Japanese culture or a distant in how she and her parents act, where she immediately chalks it all up to her being American and not Japanese. We still see her struggle with this identity though as she begins to lose all of her ties to America after moving, most significantly when Kayla and she stop emailing. When Kayla characterizes Nao’s school uniform as being a costume that she should wear, Nao feels compelled to defend her Japanese life but at the same time stay “American enough” for Kayla. As for Ruth, she tends to push her Japanese heritage aside from smaller matters, like the fact that she still calls the land sold by the Japanese internment victims the “Jap Ranch”. Ruth doesn’t seem to feel a strong pull either way, as if she is not quite “Japanese enough” and not quite “Canadian enough”. I think part of this idea that you have to so strongly assert your nationality in order to be considered valid has come from the globalization of the internet. Since the place of origin in the world of a certain post or profile online can easily be ambiguous, there seems to be a push to further your identity as American, Japanese, Canadian, etc. by increasingly speaking of your country in order to have stake in your own identity. If a person does not do so, it often seems as if their nationality does not matter, both to them and the outside world, so they have no true right to claim the title of their own identity. While this is obviously an extreme circumstance, the increasing interconnected world has found the borderless country of the internet, and inherently, attempted to erect borders.

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