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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

Clark and Division

1. How do the opportunities and choices available to the Ito family --- in terms of home, employment, education and community --- change after the bombing of Pearl Harbor? How do euphemisms such as “internment” and “relocation” diminish the harsh reality of incarceration?

2. Aki almost blacks out on the train ride to Chicago. What do you make of her sickness? Were you fearful when Aki heard Rose’s voice? How does forced displacement and relocation affect the body, memory and identity?

3. In Chapter Nine, Aki translates kurou as “a guttural moaning, a piercing pain throughout your bones.” How does Aki cope with the grief of her sister’s death? How do her parents internalize their pain? How do the physical items Rose left behind take on a new life?

4. Aki seems driven to protect her sister’s legacy. Why do you think she takes the investigation of Rose’s death into her own hands?

5. How is Aki watched and evaluated differently --- at the police station, outside the chocolate factory, inside Art’s truck --- by nisei and hakujin?

6. Aki often describes herself as a lesser version of Rose. How does Aki’s definition of herself in relation to her sister change over the course of the novel?

7. What do you make of the library scene when the professor belittles Phillis? What type of connection is the author making between the discrimination against Black and Japanese American citizens?

8. Why does Aki initially feel guilty about her relationship with Art? Were you surprised that she did not tell him about her efforts to find out what happened to her sister?

9. How is police sergeant Graves responsible for Rose’s death and continued abuse against women? What is the relationship between the Chicago Japanese American community and local law enforcement? Do you think trust can exist between the police and an ethnic, racial or religious minority community?

10. In Chapter Six, Aki’s mother tells her to “Never shame us. All we have is our reputations.” How does Keizo take advantage of the silence and sacrifices demanded of Japanese American women and girls?

11. Besides Aki, what character do you relate to the most? In what way do you think their decisions and actions during this tumultuous time resonate with your own approach and experiences?

12. Why do you think the author chose CLARK AND DIVISION as the novel’s title?

Clark and Division
by Naomi Hirahara