World War II
"Shikata Ga Nai" - That's Just the Way It Is, Part 2

"Shikata Ga Nai" - That's Just the Way It Is, Part 2
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   2.84

     challenging words:    fresh, clipping, enlist, exile, flirty, harvard, parcel, ridiculous, Shikata, wounded, mates, glared, poetic, pens, bravery, nightmare
     content words:    Yoshi Akida, Pearl Harbor, Then Ichiro, But Yoshi, Then Yoshi

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"Shikata Ga Nai" - That's Just the Way It Is, Part 2
By Toni Lee Robinson

1     May 15, 1943
I love fresh white pages! Today I got a parcel from Mrs. Davis, my teacher back in Seattle. "I love reading your letters," she said in her note. "You have a real poetic flair. You must keep writing. Here are a few things a writer might need." She sent me some books and pens and three new notebooks! It's hard to get things like that here.
2     I really miss Mrs. Davis's creative writing class. School in the camp isn't much like the one at home. We have just basic subjects. We did have a prom this spring in our school. Yoshi Akida asked me to go with him. That surprised the socks off me. I'm not one of those flirty girls that have all the boys hanging around.
3     I didn't go, though. My parents would never let me go out with a boy. In their day, young people didn't date. They married someone chosen by their parents. "Children looking for their own mates? Ridiculous!" Father says. "It will only lead to trouble. How can children make such decisions?"
4     July 20, 1943
Today there is a war in our house. My father and my brother shouted at each other. Ichiro wants to join the U.S. Army. They are giving Nisei (people like Ichiro, born in the U.S. to Japanese families) the chance to fight in the war. It's a way to prove our loyalty to America, they say.
5     My brother is very smart. He was at the top of his class when he graduated. Harvard, the best school in the country, had offered him a scholarship. He should be starting his second year of college this fall. Instead, he is digging ditches and doing farm labor.
6     My father had dreamed of a great career for his clever son. He is furious that Ichiro wants to be a soldier. "My son wants to go and earn a living as a target for bullets?" Father stormed. "This government has already robbed you of your future. You're going to give them your blood as well? I will not permit it!"
7     "I gain nothing by staying here!" Ichiro shouted back. "I'm not going to sit here and rot of bitterness. I'm going to join the army!" I stared at my brother. I thought the sky might fall. We have never dared argue with our father. For a moment, the two glared at each other.
8     "This is what we have come to," Father said finally. "I am no longer a father in this place." He turned away. We all listened to his footsteps going outside. Yasu hid behind me like a frightened little deer. I was scared, too. Where had Father gone?

Paragraphs 9 to 20:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable

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