I would love to discuss The Red Kimono with your book club or class, either in person or via Skype. If you’re interested, please let me know the details via my contact form here.
Following are some discussion questions for the book. Please feel free to discuss your answers to any of these questions in the comment section!
- The Red Kimono gives readers an intimate view of how prejudice and racism affects the lives of three young Americans during World War II. What did you learn about this era that you didn’t already know?
- The three main characters are Sachi, Nobu and Terrence. What are the similarities of their experiences? What are the differences in how each of them dealt with those experiences? What did each of them learn about themselves?
- Morrill uses haiku to summarize important events at the start of some of the chapters. Many of them use symbolism such as porcelain mask, leaves, etc. What other symbols or metaphors do you recall from the book? Why did Morrill use haiku only in Sachi’s chapters?
- Morrill demonstrates that forms of prejudice exist everywhere. In The Red Kimono, who showed prejudice? Was there anyone who did not? By the end of the book, what did each character learn about their prejudices? Sachi? Nobu? Terrence? Mama? Carter? Blake? How did these characters move beyond their prejudices, and if they did not, why not?
- Most of the chapters in The Red Kimono are very short and in the deep point of view of Sachi, Nobu or Terrence. Many of the chapters tell the same event through the eyes of more than one character, such as the beating of Papa in the park. Why did Morrill structure the story’s narrative this way?
- At the start of the book, Sachi wants to be like everyone else. She wishes she had blond hair and round, blue eyes. She’s tired of being teased at school. She doesn’t want to learn learn her Japanese heritage. What does she learn by the end of the book? Discuss the events in the book that brought her evolution.
- What is Nobu’s desire at the beginning of the book? Morrill chose to reflect many of Nobu’s thoughts through his journal. Why did she use this method of telling Nobu’s story? Was Nobu successful in achieving his goal by the end of the book? Why or why not? How was his journey different from Sachi’s?
- The color of a man’s skin drives many of Terrence’s thoughts and decisions throughout the book, from resenting how his father “accepted” disrespect, to hatred for the Japanese after his father was killed at Pearl Harbor, to being thrown into a jail cell with Carter, to his sister having a crush on a “white boy.” How did these events influence Terrence?
- Many of the characters were confronted with the need to forgive. What did Sachi, Nobu, Terrence need to forgive? Mama? Papa? Jubie? Carter? Blake? Who was successful and who was not? How did the ability to forgive (or not) affect each character?
- Who was your favorite main character? Secondary character?
- Who did you most dislike? Why was this character important to the story? (Or not?)
- A red kimono appears throughout the story, and finally, at the end of the book. Discuss how and where it appeared in the book. What does the red kimono symbolize?