A woman’s gender role is typically seen as a puppet; no voice or spine. They are only here to please her man, cook, clean, and pop out babies like a Pez dispenser. In the poem, “Breaking Tradition” by Janice Mirikitani she talks about four different rooms; her mothers, her daughter, the room of womanhood, and even her own room and how she so desperately wants to be open with her daughter, but how difficult it is to truly break tradition.. She uses the word “room” as a metaphor to depict the internal struggles woman go through; past or present.
The first room she mentions is the room of womanhood. She talks about the “waiting room where we feel our hands/are useless dead speechless clamps” (12-13). This room where woman wait around to be wed, and the only time they are of any use is to clean up or cook for someone else. She describes a woman’s hands, as “dead speechless clamps” (13) to ...view middle of the document...
Otonashii is a Japanese word meaning silent or polite; and even though her mother probably wanted to break tradition she could not because she was “smothered in requirement,” to be this Japanese woman who was silent and polite and followed all of the rules. Her mother had, “passion and loudness wrapped in an obi” (19). Mirikitani uses the word obi, which is an extremely heavy fabric, used to wrap around the waist of the woman wearing a Japanese kimono. Using the word obi and knowing the meaning of it, gives a clear idea just on how wrapped tightly her mother kept everything inside. If it would have been wrapped any tighter it might have suffocated her.
The next room Mirikitani talks about is the room of herself. All throughout the poem the writer stresses how much she wants to break tradition and be open with her daughter, unlike her mother was with her. She wants to discuss her struggles and where she has been in her life; “sounds shaken from barbed wire and/goodbyes and miracles of survival”(37-38). This lets the reader know that the Japanese concentration camps are probably where she either grew up, or came when she first came to the Untied States.
The next room she talks about his her daughters. One thing one can gather together is that she is far from being what older Japanese people may call “otonashii.” Her daughter is well immersed in her own generation and open minded to what is out there because, “her putting ruby lips, her skirts/swaying to salsa, teena marie and the stones” (43-44). This displays that her daughter is most likely in environments that are not predominately Japanese. Most likely in the nineteen eighties because Mirikitani mentions, “teena marie and the stones” (44)
“She mirrors my aging” (47). Even though her daughter may not break tradition the way she did herself, or wanted her to do it but she is doing it. She is doing the same exact she is doing, just in a different generations. The use of the word “mirrors” tells us that even though the writers believes her daughter, “denies she is like me”(2), and her “eyes are walls of smoke”(41). They are more alike than her daughter may want to believe.