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The first, "Crabs," represents my original breakthrough in voice. It is through the protagonist, Doc Chang, and his crab Chester that I am able to describe one of the teeming places of my childhood--a place where awe and imagination were ...
The first, "Crabs," represents my original breakthrough in voice. It is through the protagonist, Doc Chang, and his crab Chester that I am able to describe one of the teeming places of my childhood--a place where awe and imagination were alive every morning and every day--and to hear and see into the darkest, most subterranean places of my life. Despite his withdrawal from common humanity, the Chinese doctor and his pet crab have taught me to love Hawaii, the place of my birth, and to accept myself as a human being and to be open to spiritual transformation and renewal.
The next six stories, "The Jiro Stories," are about Jiro, a third generation Japanese American boy. His mother is a Mormon, and Jiro is being raised a Mormon. His religion places a barrier between himself and his local peers, and his father who has long resisted joining the Mormon church. The boy's struggle is to stand apart from his parents and even from his peers.
What "The Jiro Stories" leaves out is the native Hawaiian background of Jiro's mother. This is remedied in "Mo-o of the Kawanui." Given away as an infant to be raised by a native Hawaiian family, Jiro's mother has been taught Hawaiian ways. She knows native herbal remedies and uses them to treat Jiro and his younger siblings. The spiritual world of the native Hawaiians is real to her, and she tries to transmit to her first born sacred knowledge of the gods and goddesses that live in the land. But so much of what his mother believes is contradicted by what Jiro learns in school and by the changing political and economic reality of post-World War II Hawaii. Confused and enriched by his mother's teachings, Jiro sets out with boyhood friends of several ethnic origins to gather honey from a hive in a World War II bunker on a nearby hillside, to near disastrous results.