Date of Thesis

2011

Thesis Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Department

English

First Advisor

Saundra Morris

Abstract

More than twelve years ago, during the car rides to school, my paternal grandmother, or Obasan as she is known in our family, first began telling me her stories about living in the Philippines during the Japanese Occupation. At the time, I did not know much about World War II, but her stories about being captured by the Japanese soldiersfascinated me. Years have passed, and only recently did I really begin to grasp not only the poignancy of these accounts, but also their importance in a larger context. The absence of first-hand narratives about World War II and the Japanese Occupation of the Philippines from the point of view of a Filipino woman is problematic, and I hope that my grandmother’s story can fill this hole in war literature. There are two main parts to the narrative. The first eight chapters of my thesis are about the early years of the Japanese Occupation. During this time, Obasan and her familylived a relatively peaceful life, with the exception of a few troubling encounters with the Japanese. The last seven chapters recount the Liberation of the Philippines and the days when Obasan and her family were held captive by the Japanese. The primary sources for this thesis are the interviews I have conducted with my grandmother over the course of this year and her own handwritten memoir that she composed in the last two decades. I focus specifically on the three chapters that she wrote about the war. I have also included poems written by women and historical background on the Philippines and World War II. Spinning Song is what I call a hybrid-memoir, as it retells Obasan’s stories about the war and explores the ways in which our experiences as grandmother and granddaughter intersect. More importantly, it is my way of preserving the legacy of my grandmother and paying tribute to the woman who has shaped much of who I am today.

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