Let’s Continue Our Conversation About Jamie Ford’s Novel

Our first digital classroom endeavor will be to continue our class conversation of the community text in the “comment” thread of this classroom blog. Enjoy this short video made by our upcoming visitor, Jamie Ford. Then, reflect over the novel and consider responding to one of the conversational prompts in this post. Next, draft your ideas in a word document for help with following the rules of Standard English (spell check & grammar, usage issues). Finally, paste your prose in a comment box below the post. Be sure that you compose your comment (5-7 sentences) in Standard English and only create useful and kind comments. For more on what type of comments, read more below.

Conviction: Jamie Ford’s Novel affords our school many conversations about our community theme this year, conviction. Throughout the year, we will discuss this theme and learn from each other while examining this rich, complex topic. This dialogue could make us a stronger community. Here is our school definition.

“Conviction is a strong belief or firmly held opinion. It is an unshakable feeling without need for proof or evidence. It is making and maintaining a commitment. This year, Suffield wants to explore how people form convictions and how they impact our lives. For example, we are told to do what is “right” and not to let others adversely influence our decisions. Yet how do we know what is right? Where does “wrong” begin? Conviction is a fascinating and complicated topic that will make for rich exploration across our curriculum and programs” (http://www.suffieldacademy.org/page/News-Detail?pk=927857&fromId=191958). What specific scene or sentence captures the best moment of conviction for you?

School Climate: This novel also makes us aware about negative and positive issues relating to school climate. According to the National School Climate Center, School Climate “refers to the quality and character of school life. School climate is based on patterns of students’, parents’ and school personnel’s experience of school life and reflects norms, goals, values, interpersonal relationships, teaching and learning practices, and organizational structures” (http://www.schoolclimate.org) When students feel unsafe, their performance naturally drops. Likewise, when students are connected to an adult (sometimes it only takes one adult), they tend to flourish intellectually and developmentally. Explore one specific scene or sentence that illuminates a positive or negative moment of school climate. NB: I learned my favorite “School Climate” mantra, If it’s mean, intervene, from Dr. Jo Ann Freiberg, (http://www.schoolclimate.org/about/council.php) when I met her at CAIS conference on school climate.

Historical Novel: The scene where Henry learns from the Japanese photographer that he is not taking pictures of burning garbage but rather the burning destruction of wedding photos reminds us that historical novels provide the power to deliver an emotional impact about the history of an era. Does Ford’s scene artistically deliver a dark chapter of US History better than your US History text book?  What other evocative scene or sentence from the novel resonates one aspect of American history for you?

Traits of our parents: Literature provides many nuances and examples where children come to terms (consciously or unconsciously) with traits that they may have learned from their parents. How does Henry’s maturation compare to this father’s life story? What is it about the age of Henry and what he is discovering about himself that is important for creating such an interesting love story and coming of age story (Bildungsroman)? Henry also exhibits signs of stubbornness, perhaps a cousin of conviction in the range of emotional learning. Did he learn that from his father. What role does their collective stubbornness play in their father/son conflict? There are many ways to reflect on this motif (literary pattern). You could also comment on where Henry or his son learns stubbornness and reflect how this trait gives him strength. Or what other specific inherited trait does a child come to terms with in this novel?

An author’s creative use of music: The author’s use of music in the text adds an artistic depth to the novel and provides insights into some key characters. There is a tradition among novelist to expand character development by showing in the narrative the character’s reaction to music or experiencing other art forms. For example, Carson McCullers and Kate Chopin use this technique in their novels; juniors will recall Chopin’s The Awakening where the reader learns more about Edna from her reaction to music. Examine one scene or small passage where Ford develops a character’s inner life more with the experience of music.

Flashbacks: Jordyn’s insight was to ponder how Ford’s shift in time from the 1980s to the 1940s keeps the reader’s interest in both time periods.

Or celebrate another aspect of this great novel and focus on one specific scene or sentence for supporting your claim.


About bsullivan35

I am an English teacher working with great students at an independent school in Ct.
This entry was posted in 21st Century Learning, Community Theme, Digital Citizenship, Disposition of a Critical Thinker, Flipped Classroom, School Climate, Summer Reading, Text and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

48 Responses to Let’s Continue Our Conversation About Jamie Ford’s Novel

  1. A says:

    A negative example of school climate in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is when Henry is working in the kitchen for the second time, and the lunch lady, Mrs. Beatty, says to Henry and Keiko, “Heck, I bet you two are related, aren’t you?” Mrs. Beatty then immediately grabbed her cigarettes and wandered off to eat lunch, leaving Henry and Keiko to serve the rest of the students by themselves. Not only did the lunch lady leave Keiko and Henry alone by themselves to do the work, but she disrespected them regarding their ethnic identities, which proved her lack of tolerence in the begining. How familiar Henry had become with racial misconceptions from faculty and students alike illustrates a school climate where nothing is done about bullying and education about different races. “How many times have you heard that one?” This familiarity with racial disrespect illustrates a negative school climate highlighting the way Henry especially reacts to this form of bullying; this climate ignores and disregards the disrespectful words, which stresses the lack of positive influence on Henry from faculty. Until Keiko comes along and begins to defend Henry, he has no positive connection to any faculty or student, which, by definition results in a destructive school climate.

  2. PARKER says:

    I believe that Ford’s scene accurately depicts the history of the time better than my US History textbook. Whilst our U’S history textbook gives a small, rather one sided account about what happened Jamie Ford uses distinct details to represent the setting at the time. The reader feels as if they are actually there seeing this wedding photograph burn. Jamie Ford portrays the time period as it really was. For a moment we can actually feel like we are there.

    • Anthony deni says:

      I also believe Jaime Ford depicts the history of time better than my US textbook because it’s a personal story. In a US textbook there are just chronolicigal events that don’t really affect us on a personal level as a reader. As Parker said in his comment about the story “Hotel On The Corner of Bitter Sweet,” the moment where they had to burn the wedding photographs is problematic for the family to possess because the photograph could be the materials that spies use. That moment in the story really hits close to home. I don’t want people to burn my parents’ wedding photos! That emotion that it gives us is something that we as readers do not get while reading a History Textbook.

  3. Will says:

    Jamie Ford uses music to teach us more about Henry’s personality. When Henry brings Keiko to the jazz lounge, Henry is really letting himself go because he is showing Keiko the thing in life he cherishes the most. Henry does not want to let anything to come between himself and Keiko. That is why on the first date he takes her to the thing he enjoys, with the musician to likes the most. By Ford using music it allows the music to learn about the multiple sides to Henry and what he appreciates the most.

  4. KJ says:

    Henry’s commitment to his wife Ethel shows his strong belief of moral obligation to family no matter what the situation. His refusal to abandon her in a hospital, despite his Son urging him to do so, displays his strong conviction. Henry says that, “choosing to lovingly care for her was like steering a plane into a mountain as gently as possible. The crash is imminent; it’s how you spend your time on the way down that counts.” Henry shows that he will stand up for and support his family and his opinion even if it becomes an extremely painful and heartbreaking experience. When Henry married Ethel he vowed to care for her in sickness and in health. Leaving her in a nursing home would break that important vow. His commitment to always love and care for her is maintained through his strong conviction. Even though caring for her took away all his energy and joy, he suffered through it knowing it would have been much easier on him, physically and emotionally, to put Ethel in a nursing home. Even after Ethel’s death, Henry stayed loyal to her by trying to suppress his feelings for Keiko. He is strong enough to stand by his decisions and he displays his strong conviction to the readers in many ways.

  5. Mike says:

    I feel like Henry exercises his conviction and stands up for what he believes in when he befriends Keiko. Henry was Chinese American, and his father hated the Japanese. This was not only because the Chinese and Japanese people were already not on great terms, but also because of their hostile involvement in World War II towards Americans, primarily the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Henry had to go within himself and make a decision when befriending Keiko. Due to Henry’s obligation to carry out the Chinese traditions in order to please his father, despite the fact that he was American born, he had to make the choice to either conform to his father’s beliefs or to choose to live by his own principles. Henry’s decision to choose the latter and befriend Keiko despite the potential consequences is a true representation of one who lives by their own values and thus exercises conviction.

  6. Naoki says:

    In the chapter of “Flag Duty”, it describes a negative moment of school climate. Chaz and Denny make fun of the main character, Henry for being the only one Asian kid in school, not for being Chinese but accused of being Japanese. This scene shows how ignorant people were about races back then. In another scene in this chapter, Henry gets a tardy from his teacher because of Chaz and Denny. However, he accepts it without any words even though he could say that it was not his fault, and this action shows that how vulnerable he was for being a minority in the school. These scenes show how bad the school climate was and not letting Henry to take the right action.

  7. 15kbt says:

    In the community text Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Jamie Ford creates an image that a US textbook does not give. In the scene when the Japanese photographer is shooting the ruined wedding photos, Henry’s reaction gives the reader a completely different perspective that would not be portrayed in a US textbook. Jamie Ford captures and makes the reader feel the emotional distress that the Chinese and Japanese Americans most likely felt.However, a US textbook would not explain these emotions as in depth because it’s a time in US history that wants to be forgotten. In the scene where Keiko shares her family photos with Henry shows how serious the situation was because something as little as family photos can get them killed. In contrast to US History text books, a fictional novel can show the dangers for a family owning photos that could be considered spying document.

  8. ACL_TEAR says:

    I believe people show conviction when they are pushed. Henry’s controversial beliefs put him in a situation that causes him to constantly defend himself. Henry has a deep, unrelenting connection with a Japanese girl, Keiko. Unfortunately this relationship began during the midst of World War II, when all Japanese were seen as the enemy. Chaz, a character in the book that represents an ignorant and overly patriotic American who’s primary goal in life is to testing Henry. Henry truly shows conviction when he stands alone. After shopping for Keiko’s birthday present he is confronted by Chaz and his friends. With fighting words Chaz says, “Where’s your girlfriend, Henry? She’s not him if your looking for her”(170). Although this is not the first conflict seen between Chaz and Henry it is most certainly the climax of their relationship. Henry comes out victorious in the confrontation by showing his true colors. He stands up for what he believes in so greatly that he scares off all the bullies.

  9. jordyn1796 says:

    School Climate: Throughout the novel Henry’s relationship with Mrs. Beatty grows stronger as the story progresses, and they share the first hand experience of knowing personally a victim of the Japanese Interment experience. Their relationship becomes strong when Mrs. Beatty stands up for Henry and keeps Chaz from beating him up. Specifically, she says to him, “ Well, Chaz honey, if you hurt that kid, your going to be taking his place in the kitchen. You understand me”(23)? This little action does not seem like much, but in theory it does more than one would think. Henry is in an all white school where almost everyone, even the teachers, do not like him. Mrs. Beatty is the last person Henry would have expected to stick up for him! One the one hand, she could have pretended to not have seen him. On the other hand, she does the right thing and does not let race change anything. By having that one adult figure stick up for him, Henry is given just a little more confidence and courage to get through his “scholar shipping”.

    • bsullivan35 says:

      Wow, Jordyn! Your comment moves our thoughts about this topic in interersting directions. It’s interesting to ponder if Henry and Mrs. Beatty’s relationship would have progressed as far if they were not working together on the cafeteria line at the interment camps. This good comment also makes us reflect on the power of Sheldon’s relationship with Henry, as Henry had to navigate between the distress of school and home!

  10. nealp123 says:

    An example of conviction is shown throughout the story in Henry’s father, Mr. Lee. Mr. Lee firmly believes that Henry should not do anything that would make him seem Japanese. He made sure Henry only spoke English in public and even went as far as to cut all ties between Henry and his lover, Keiko. When one considers Mr. Lee, he resembles the parents in Romeo and Juliet. Mr. Lee’s commitment and decisions to keep Henry and his family away from the Japanese is an unwavering conviction that follows him up till his deathbed.

  11. FkW says:

    Being as a Chinese-American himself and created a protagonist as a Chinese-American, Jamie Ford’s novel reminds me about several worth-thinking historical questions in US history. I could still print images from the history textbook last year in my brain, black people used to be called African-Americans, Chinese people were called Chinese-Americans , but they never called European-American or even British-American. Why they used to label people? In the story, Henry’s best friend, Keiko is a second-generation Japanese-American. While she is not able to speak Japanese, she is being labeled as Japanese, as an enemy, rather than being treated as an American. Since the Japanese-Americans in Seattle Japanese town are labeled as Japanese, or enemies, they are sent to internment camp, and most of them lost all their properties, their possessions being looted. Is it because they are labeled as Japanese-Americans. In the US history, unfair treatments were brought to African-Americans, was it also because they were labeled as African-American? Jamie Ford’s novel leads us to a deep thinking of the US history, which it elevates the book as a historical novel.

  12. fb154 says:

    In the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, I find that the author’s use of music creates a common ground between differing races throughout the story. Keiko, Henry and Sheldon all represent different minorities that American society has framed as “different” or “inferior”. Each character shares a common social struggle against white American society, but they also share a love for American jazz. Ford uses jazz music and the power within it to show the connection between various characters/races to reveal that we are not much different from one another.
    Sheldon’s jazz record is also especially used to symbolize Keiko and Henry’s relationship. While the two cultures do not get along, Keiko and Henry both share a love for American jazz music and are able to put their cultural differences aside. Jamie Ford does a great job of showing the similarities between different cultures through the power of music.

  13. Emma says:

    Jamie Ford shines on the relationship of a main character, Henry, and his father, as well as Henry’s friends. While both of them grew up at a young age, the traditions of both of their backgrounds have stuck with them throughout their lives. I feel as though Henry is loyal to not only his immature father, but also to his friends. This brings us back to the importance of relationships in Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.

  14. oyikwan asante says:

    When Henry’s parents forbid him from speaking Chinese, they show conviction in the sense that nothing he could do or say would change their minds. Although they barely spoke any english, it did not let them sway from their goal, which was to turn Henry into a true Chinese American

  15. pm939 says:

    Jamie Ford demonstrates conviction – our school theme – throughout the whole novel. Henry and Keiko face several obstacles that stand between their love and friendship, the main one being Henry’s father. Henry’s father does everything he can to stop the two from becoming friends and/or lovers. He goes as far as sending his son back to China and cutting postal contact between Henry and Keiko. Even though Henry had a strong sense of devotion and loyalty to family, his conviction remained strong and he defies his father and continues to be friends with Keiko. Henry and Keiko’s friendship transcends the long-standing prejudices of their ancestors. They remain friends through the most conflicted and volatile times in history. Through Henry and Keiko, Ford is able to express the forgiveness of humans, and their ability to stand up for what they believe in. Ford has created an extraordinary duo whose life-story teaches us to remain strong in our convictions and do what we think is right even when others do not.

  16. Annabelle pape says:

    Jamie Ford helps us find the hidden side of Henry that Keiko doesn’t see with music. When Henry takes Keiko to the jazz lounge, he becomes comfortable around her and shows her the one thing that he enjoys the most. Keiko means everything to Henry and he does not want anything to come between them. So for their first date together, Henry takes Keiko somewhere where he enjoys life. Ford is allowing readers to understand that music displays multiple sides of Henry’s personality that Keiko discovers.

  17. 16ht says:

    Henry’s conviction was depicted in various events of the book. One of the scenes which I find most effective is when he falsely translated to his father for the man in order to create conflict between the two so that they wouldn’t tear down Japantown (where Keiko currently lived). With problems like these, Henry was able to persevere and overcome the risks because he had a rigid purpose. An aspect about conviction is that you have the determination and strength to fight till the end, even if it was to betray your parent’s cultural beliefs. It is a commitment that is powered by motivation, a source that makes all the struggle worth fighting for.

  18. Jeremy says:

    Henry shows conviction throughout the novel. Although his father made it difficult for Henry and Keiko to be friends. He stays loyal to his father and Keiko throughout everything his father does to prevent them from becoming lovers. Henry’s father held lots of traditions. He wouldn’t allow Henry to have any Japanese friends which made things a lot more tougher on Henry and the friendship he has with Keiko.

  19. Andy C says:

    The mother and father of Henry display conviction many times throughout the novel. Henry, a young, innocent and vulnerable child struggles to find his own identity. Bullied because of his race, and restricted from using his native tongue by his own parents, Henry had all the odds against him. Although Henry himself is too young to express any real forms of conviction, his parents and members of the private school he attends show it. His parents hold true to the American way of life, no matter the surroundings as they see the it is better suited for Henry’s future. Faculty at his school treat him differently because of his ethnicity. At his young age he feels the oppression, vowing to never treat anyone the way he was treated growing up. As an adult Henry is a very convicted man, knowing his beliefs, identity, and his dreams.

  20. os123 says:

    Conviction: The strong theme of conviction reoccurs throughout the story as a building block for Henry’s journey. His powerful bond with Keiko, a Japanese-American girl, remained throughout the trials of his father trying to get them to not see each other any more. Even though it was dangerous to show affinity for a Japanese girl, and his father disapproved, Henry remained resolved in his beliefs and remained friends with her. He even went as far as to visit her at the concentration camp despite what repercussions might come if his parents found out. So, Henry’s sense of standing up for what he believes in sends a commanding example as our school theme this year of conviction.

  21. KJH says:

    Jamie Ford’s novel, “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” depicts conviction which is related to our school’s theme. He shows conviction through the characters of the book. For example, when Keiko and her family face threat, opposing father’s expectations, Henry hides Okabe family’s photographs and visit Keiko at internment camps. Because of his action, Henry’s father does not speak to Henry, treating him as a stranger. Also, Henry later finds out that his father intercepted the letter between Henry and Keiko. All of these scenes demonstrates Henry and his father’s strong belief that they put their convictions into action during their lifetimes.

  22. 16ok says:

    The author of the novel Hotel on the corner of bitter and sweet, Jamie Ford, shows us great skills in writing. I was really excited when reading the novel because of the complexity of the text. Vocabulary used is outstanding and it really deepens readers’ emotions into the book. It’s a very important component. Without it, the joy of reading this novel would be minimized.

  23. David says:

    I felt that Jamie Ford’s novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, painted a daunting but realistic picture of the United States’ actions against Japanese descendants that is not highlighted in a US History textbook. I enjoyed this novel for many reasons, but I really enjoyed that it humanizes the events that are referred to in such a dispassionate way by other sources. The novel showed me a real part of American history that I had not explored very much, and displayed the struggle of the victims of Japanese internment. Although at its core, the novel is a love story, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet delivered a somber view to me of what life was like for the Japanese Americans who lived constantly in fear for no reason but their blood.

  24. 15apm says:

    Henry shows conviction throughout the novel. One part is when his father does not allow him to speak Chinese. The ultimate goal was to become an American. Even though the family knew little English they still made sure nobody spoke there native language.

  25. hbells says:

    In the book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford racial issues are sparked because main characters are Japanese American during the confinment in America. The novel shows the story of two people Keiko and Henry trying to protect themselves, their family, and belongings during this tough time. The school climate in this story is prominent because of the unfair treatment given to these two in school. Socially in school, the two were bullied and Henry constantly gets beat up. On more of the educational setting, due to Henry being belittled at school this causes him to lose hope as his confidence drops. This unfortunate school climate places Henry in a low place causing him to be demeaned due to the times in America.

  26. Becs says:

    Conviction: Henry’s father values and possesses conviction. He does not want Henry to act or do anything Japanese. Additionally, he forbids him from speaking Chinese, while Henry’s parents barely speak any English themselves. Henry’s father has so much conviction he even puts a stop to Henry and Keiko’s relationship because his father’s goal was for Henry to become American.

  27. 15MPK says:

    School Climate: In the novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,” Henry, the main character, is not like the rest of his classmates he has to deal with. All of the white kids are mean to him and have a negative impact on the Asian kids. They were constantly bullied and picked on. It shows how the quality of life in school for them was very poor.

  28. Taison says:

    I believe that the author depicts the time period better than most history books. The book depicts the racial tensions of this time period as a predominantly white neighborhood transitions into a more diverse one. Even though the novel is historical fiction, Clybourne Park it shows how what it was like between the different races during that time period more than a history book. Any historian would tell you that the best sources are the primary accounts of real people and there expirences. The characters and events that occur in Clybourne Park are very believable and can be used to describe the time period accurately.

  29. marys says:

    In the novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford, henry’ father shows conviction when he says that henry cannot speak the native language, Chinese. He can also not act Japanese or do any of the Japanese traditions because the goal is to make them as American as possible. Conviction is also shown when henry’s father tries to stop the relationship between Henry and Keiko, however, henry has other forms of conviction because he stands for different things. Henry goes against his father and still is friends with her because he wants to do what he wants and what he believes in. Through Henry’s journeys in the book, he continues to stick to his beliefs and show his strong conviction.

  30. K.Dotes. says:

    Historical Novel: Jamie Ford’s novel “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” gives us a perspective on what was happening in America after the bombings at Pearl Harbor from a different perspective than any of the history books about this time period. This book shows how a Chinese child, Henry, would react when one of his two only friends was taken away from him. It also makes us realize that the Chinese, who were our allies at the time, were racial persecuted for simply looking Japanese. I think the scene where Henry is running through the crowds of Japanese-Americans being taken away and the white Americans screaming at them as Henry desperately searches for Keiko is a great scene to demonstrate how not all Americans hated the Japanese population at the time. It also shows how some families were torn apart because a white man married a Japanese woman.

  31. Madrakula says:

    School Climate ~ A positive moment of school climate in the book “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” would be after Keiko stops attending school, and Henry is working the lunch line by himself. At one point Chad comes up through the line and starts to bully Henry, but Mrs. Beatty shows compassion towards Henry and ends up punishing Chad. After this interaction with Mrs. Beatty, Henry forms a bond and trust with her which ends up allowing him to find Keiko in the internment camps by working there in the kitchen serving food. This shows that even though Henry was bullied at school, forming this bond with an adult staff member helped him get through the year and eventually find his best friend.

  32. Ally says:

    In Jamie Ford’s novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, Henry, the protagonist, is faced with many difficult obstacles that he must overcome. One obstacle that Henry faces in particular is the school climate. In the novel, Henry’s father forces him to wear the “I am Chinese” button to school to ensure that Henry will not be mistaken for being Japanese. At this period in time, America is at war with the Japanese, which results in tension at Henry’s School, Rainer Elementary. The American students tease Henry because he is different and seen as the enemy even though he is Chinese and not Japanese. In the novel, Chaz, Henry’s tormentor, is quoted saying “’Oh, that’s right, you Japs don’t salute American flags, do you?’” In this quotation Chaz is making an assumption about Henry being the enemy, which is not true. The students at Henry’s school are not the only ones that make assumptions about Henry. Mrs. Beatty, the school cook, asks if Henry and Keiko are related when Keiko starts work in the kitchen. Henry is Chinese and Keiko of Japanese origin but born in the United States making her American. It is stated in the novel that Keiko does not speak any Japanese, which further distances her from the country. Overall there is tremendous tension between the white Americans and the Asian Americans at Rainer Elementary School; the Asian Americans become victims of blatant ignorance.

  33. pnc491 says:

    Henry’s and Keiko both have conviction to maintain their relationship. They have gone through hard times, where they could easily give up, but they fight and will do whatever to get back together. They adapt to the situation, and no one can stop them, even their parents. Henry sacrifices his life with his parents to spend time with Keiko, and Keiko sacrifices her time to spend it with Henry. Henry keeps writing Keiko notes every week that she’s gone although never gotten a reply from her, and this shows that he is convicted to never lose her.

  34. Luca says:

    Ford illustrates the hard times the Japanese Americans endured through World War II through Henry’s experiences, bringing to light many moments of ignorance and prejudice. Japanese Americans were seen as enemies to the nation during World War II because of their ancestry. World War II was a war to end all wars, against the totalitarians, dictators, and tyrants of the world. Meanwhile, at the heart of the country, Japanese Americans – many of them American citizens – were being relocated to internment camps, eerily similar to the concentration camps in Germany. Such a decision to relocate Japanese Americans was a decision subject to poor leadership and wartime hysteria.

  35. 16msd says:

    There is a poignent moment in this story when Henry’s mother looks at him and just sighs. It is a special kind of sigh refered to as “The kind of sigh you give when you just accept something bad has happened…. A sigh of resigned disappointement… Of coming up empty, having wasted your time” (Ford 127-128). The determined mindset Henry shows at this point in the story when he claims Keiko as his best friend insipite of her heritage is the same mindset his mother has seeen in Henry’s father, and that we as the readers see from him throughout the story. This moment in the story recognizes the moment when both Henry and his mother recognizes and is forced to accept the fact that Henry has grown past the opinions of his parents and started to form a mindset of his own, which is an integral part of growing up. As his mother, Henry’s mom wants the best for her son and has worked hard to do it, but at the same time she realizes that he is his fathers son and that he needs the room to grow into his own person. For Henry this is the start of him starting to move away from his family both in the literal sense of visting the camps, but also in the metaphorical way of growing beyond it. He still respects his mother and shows it by buying a flower not long after, but there is a definite change in the family dynamic.

  36. Catty says:

    Traits of our parents→
    In life, it is evident that ones actions represent their beliefs and upraising. Every time someone makes a conscious or unconscious choice, they are taking what they have been taught (by parents or teachers) and using it in some way, good or bad. Our upbringing determines our character. In the story, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, this theme shows up constantly. The main character, Henry, faces many obstacles in his life, and is forced to figure out to react on his own. Due to the fact that Henry’s father banned him from ever speaking Cantonese in their household, and that neither Henry’s mother nor father spoke English well enough to hold conversations; Henry was left alone in a world, split between two cultures. This familial divide forces henry to grow and mature at the young age of twelve. A child growing up in the 1940 had to deal with many unfortunate situations. Henry had formed a hard shell in order to protect himself against school bullies, his family, and the loss of his true love Keiko. Although the ideas of parent-child relationships and impacts on one another are present throughout the entire story, the moment in which Marty, Henry’s son, says that he thinks his father and grandfather are very similar, is one of the most climatic moments in the entire book. Henry had grown up respecting, yet hating his father at the same time so to hear that he had become anything like the man that drove him crazy, upset and confused him greatly. It becomes more and more apparent that Henry is less like his father than his son had once believed; however, his passions, and intentions are evidently passed down from his parents (both mother and father).

  37. 15dem says:

    School Climate: There are many positives and negatives for Henry. One positive being him having the opportunity to go to a school for “white kids” and get to learn and be integrated. Another positive is being a scholarship kid. He also worked in the kitchen which taught him good work ethics. A negative is that there was no safety against bullying which caused him to get picked on for being Chinese and liking a Japanese girl. Race played a large roll in this story. He was constantly disrespected. The community also did not like the integration of the school.

  38. hnewman9 says:

    Jamie Ford’s novel Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet does a better job than a US History textbook at depicting this dark period in American history, because it shows personal interactions and hardships that Asian-Americans had to face during these times, instead of just stating facts. One scene that stood out in this regard is when Henry is forced to wear the “I am Chinese” button by his father, but when he asks why his father only replies “Hah, you say?” (12). Even his own father wants to show people that they are not Japanese because he fears that his son will be persecuted just for looking Japanese in the eyes of the Americans. His father also forces him to only speak English which shows that the Chinese and other Asians in America were being forced to lose their heritage in order to not be taken for seeming Japanese because they speak an Asian language. American history textbooks would not have such things, because people do not record every private conversation they have so many of these types of things were lost in time and never made it to the textbooks.

  39. Marmaduke says:

    I think that Ford is doing Americans a great service by writing this novel. This area of american history is often overlooked by most people. One the things that i think is most admirable is that he is able to write about this topic with an much bias which also him to convey what life during this time was like in these camps. He tells story of how the shock and terror of the attack on pear harbor caused a knee-jerk reaction from the american government. Many Japanese-American family where separated and torn apart because of the swift action of the government.

  40. jg says:

    With love and conviction, there is nothing a man cannot accomplish. In Jamie’s Ford’s novel, Henry Lee and his father had very different convictions that led them on to opposite paths. As a traditional Chinese father and the experience he had, Henry’s father expects his son to have the same belief as him, that the Japanese are not friends with the Chinese and never will be, and responds to his every decision and action with obedience. However, Henry, who grew up and studied in America, is nothing different from an American except his physical features. He met Keiko, a Japanese-American, and became each other’s best friend. After his father found out about Keiko, he demonstrated that his conviction would not be wavered by disowning his son. In the last few hours of his life, he told Henry that the reasons why Keiko has not been writing back to him is because he asked the postmaster to prevent them from contacting each other. Henry’s father told his son that he did this for Henry’s own good. This shows that he loves Henry very much deep down, but with the conviction he had from his experience and background, Henry’s father was able to hurt his own son deeply as well.

  41. Haven Williams says:

    In the book “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”, Jamie Ford gives music a strong presence in revealing Henry’s true character that is not seen by Kaiko or his family members. Ford gives music such a strong presence in the novel to better build the relationship between Henry and the reader, as we begin to understand things about him the other characters do not. Ford does this by displaying Henry’s emotional and physical reactions to the music. The music that Ford mainly chooses to use is Jazz. In one case, Ford uses Jazz to build a lifelong friendship between Sheldon and Henry. As Henry is African American, he and people of this race struggled and faced very harsh times of racism. And though the Chinese were not as discriminated against, Henry was just a young boy attempting to find his way. The sweet sounds of Jazz emanating from Sheldon’s instrument in the club poured into Henry’s ears and drew him to meet Sheldon’s acquaintance, beginning a lifelong bond that stays strong until Sheldon’s Death. Jazz also has a strong impact on the relationship between Henry and Kaiko. Though they come from different worlds, their bond was solidified with the help of music. From the two kids sneaking in the back of the club to listen to music, to Henry bringing a Jazz album to Kaiko as a present while she was in the camp, music remains with a very strong and meaningful presence.

  42. Niklas says:

    The book “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet“ by Jamie Ford shows clearly that conviction can be both negative and positive. The positive example of conviction is our protagonist Henry, who has a strong believe in his relation to Keiko, which doesn’t need any proof or evidence to him. He works against his own community and even against his family just because of Keiko. Although he doesn’t get too many responses, he keeps on writing letters to Keiko and he even takes the risk to get punished and be thrown in jail, just to spend time with her. On the other hand, the books bad example of conviction is Henrys father, who beliefs in his hatred against the Japanese until he dies. He even turns himself against his own son, because of his conviction in that hatred.

  43. Will Breault says:

    Conviction, being this year’s school theme, is also prevalent in the book, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet. Henry has ultimately made a commitment that he will be with Keiko. The opposition of his conviction, the roadblock, is his father, Mr. Lee. Lee does not want Henry to hang out with people other than his own race, which was Japanese. While his father was trying to protect his son, he also was keeping his own conviction that he could stay the way he was without conforming to the rest of the world around them. In the end Henry has kept his conviction, but his father has failed to keep his own, which lead to his death.

  44. 15daf says:

    The book Hotel on the Corner of Bitter & Sweet by Jamie Ford shows how conviction is such a strong and important emotion that people wrestle with in order to fight for the things they want in this world. Our main character, Henry, is in love with this woman, Keiko. Even though they come from two different backgrounds, fights for this woman even though he has no evidence that she loves him back. His conviction leads him to anything just to see this woman. The letters they send back and forth really aren’t enough for him so he tries to see her but is thrown in jail. During this time, it was hard for two people from different backgrounds to have a relationship. The people around henry including his father showed such hatred towards the Japanese that its hard for Henry to express how he feels. In the end, conviction got him through hell and back for the person he loved.

  45. hardooooo says:

    Ford uses great scenery to show the hardships of this time. He uses a chronological order for his events and displays a very passionate sympathy during the text. Conviction is always having a strong effect on the novel henrys strong relationship with Keiko the young Japanese American girl during this grueling time While they were trying to have a relationship. Henrys father was very against this relationship so henry had to display strong conviction. This showed that he would stick up for what he wanted.

  46. Jason Chang says:

    For our summer reading we read the book “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet”. I have to say that this book was a great book, it had deep meanings and I was really into the book while reading it. I thought the book was written in a very tender way that it related very well into a part of Seattle history. It gave me a clear idea of the damage and the conditions it causes by war and the cruel damage to the hearts and young people. Also the explorations of Henry’s changing in relationship with his family and with Keiko made turn pages and made me want to read till the end of the book.

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