Under the Blood-Red Sun
Tomi was born in Hawaii. His grandfather and parents were born in Japan, and came to America to escape poverty. World War II seems far away from Tomi and his friends, who are too busy playing ball on their eighth-grade team, the Rats. But then Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese, and the United States declares war on Japan. Japanese men are rounded up, and Tomi's father and grandfather are arrested. It's a terrifying time to be Japanese in America. But one thing doesn't change: the loyalty of Tomi's buddies, the Rats. From the Paperback edition.
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Chapter 1 - The Flag
This story takes place in Hawaii on the island of Oahu. Tomi is the narrator, and he is a Japanese-American boy living on the island. Large numbers of Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii to escape poverty and find a better way of life. In fact, by 1924 nearly half of all people living on the islands were Japanese! They found work on the sugar and pineapple plantations that cover the islands. Many also worked as fishermen. When the story opens, it is months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor and plunged the United States into World War II, life became very difficult for the Japanese-Americans living in the United States as they would be unfairly blamed for the bombing of Pearl Harbor. (This annotation contains an image)
Did you know that you can look up any word in the text of the book or the text of the questions and answers? Just click (or press on mobile devices) the word you want to define and hold until the blue text selector pops up. When you release, a define option will appear. Since it's so easy to look up words, make sure you use this feature frequently... Is there a word on this page you need to look up?
This is a picture of the Japanese flag as it looked in 1941. It is called the Rising Sun flag. (This annotation contains an image)
Considering the setting of the book and evidence in the text, what does Tomi mean when he says, "And Japan isn't making any friends around here"?
Ojii-chan is Japanese for "grandfather."
Kimpatsu means "blond hair" in Japanese. This is considered an insult as almost every one in Japan has black hair. Someone with blond hair is "different." You can probably think of words people in the American culture use to insult those who are different or who don't fit in.
Using evidence in the text, what can you conclude about Grampa?
The Japanese language uses honorifics to show respect when speaking to others. Kun is added to the end of a boy's name when he is being spoken to by an adult.
Read this statement from the text.But it was so inflexible.What does inflexible mean?
A house on stilts is lifted off of the ground. You usually see these types of houses near coastal or waterfront areas. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 2 - Crazy Boy
Earlier in the text Tomi mentions that their house has no plumbing, and here you discover that his mama is a maid. What can you conclude about Tomi's family?
Dog tags are worn by people in the military. The tags include the service member's name, blood type, and religious preference in case the person is injured or killed in battle. Here is a photo of an actual WWII dog tag. The top row is the man's name. The T-43 means he had his tetanus shot in 1943. The "B" is his blood type, and the "P" in the lower right means he is of the Protestant faith or religion. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Tomi mean when he says he feels humiliation?
Pigeon racing is a sport in which specially trained pigeons are released from a carefully chosen location and then timed on how long it takes them to return home. There are still pigeon racing clubs today. In the photo below, the pigeons have just been released for the race home! (This annotation contains an image)
What has changed Keet and Tomi's friendship?
Shame, honor, and duty are the main components of Japanese culture. In the Japanese culture, what others think about you is more important than what you feel or believe. This is completely different from the American culture that places great importance on the individual's feelings. In Japan, shame occurs when someone else has negative thoughts about you. This is to be avoided at all costs. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Tomi's mama want him to consider what he "thinks about" when he hears Keet's name?
Chapter 3 - Mose and Rica
Why would Mr. Davis want Billy to go to the white school?
Rico is from Portugal which is located in Europe. It is a neighboring nation of Spain. The Portuguese came to Hawaii to work on the pineapple and sugar cane plantations. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Rico like his scar?
Tomi calls the Kaka'ako boys baseball fanatics. What is a fanatic?
"An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth.." is part of a Bible verse found in the Book of Exodus in the Old Testament. It is often misunderstood and used by people to justify paying someone back or getting revenge when he or she has been wronged. (This annotation contains an image)
The mainland is what people living in Hawaii call the rest of the United States. (This annotation contains an image)
Mr. Ramos and Rico's father have differing points of view on Mr. Ramos' career choice. Which statement best describes their points of view?
A destroyer is a small warship that escorts the larger ships in a fleet. What Billy is describing became known as The Greer Incident and it was a warning sign to many that the United States would not be able to stay out of World War II. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Tomi feel that it is "strange" to hear the sounds of the military maneuvers going on while the boys are playing?
Chapter 4 - The Emperor
Groucho Marx is a famous comedian and actor. He built his career on his quick wit and animated facial expressions. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Tomi feel his dad must be "made out of steel"?
Some Asians have difficulty pronouncing the "l" and "r" sounds. This may be due to the fact that their language does not include these sounds.
The samurai sword is revered and respected in Japanese families. It symbolizes honor and is passed down from father to son. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Tomi mean when he says the sword is sacred?
A butsudan is a shrine. These are usually found in homes that practice the Buddhist religion. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on evidence in the text, how would you describe Billy?
Watch this video on point of view. After you watch the video you will be asked to answer a question about how culture influences Tomi's and Billy's points of view. (This annotation contains a video)
Think about the video you just watched regarding point of view. Consider how Tomi describes Kaka'ako, the neighborhood made-up of varying working class ethnic groups. Why do you think he "loved it down there"? Would Billy share his point of view or would he say he prefers the Nu'uanu area that the boys live in now? Cite evidence from the text as you write your response.
Tumblers, high fliers, and racers are the different types of pigeons that Tomi's dad raises. (This annotation contains an image)
How does this scene of Tomi, Tomi's dad, and Billy watching the pigeons contribute to the mood or tone?
Chapter 5 - The P-40 Tomahawks
Why does Tomi think Billy's trip might be the first time ever that a haole (white person) has ever set foot on a Japanese fishing boat?
An outhouse is what people used for a restroom before they had indoor plumbing. You may have seen a port-a-john; an outhouse is very similar to that! (This annotation contains an image)
In this scene Tomi's mama is going to prepare Billy a very traditional Japanese meal. You might find this to be an unusual food. All cultures have a unique diet that others may find odd. It is important to not make judgments about another culture's traditions as that can be hurtful. (This annotation contains a video)
Why is Billy trying to eat only the rice?
Using the portion of the text that discusses Sanji, what can you tell about the lives of the Japanese fishermen?
Kewalo Basin is a harbor located on the island of Oahu. It is still used today by fishing and charter boats of all types and sizes. This photograph shows the harbor today. In Tomi's time the harbor would have looked the same, but the boats wouldn't have been as fancy. (This annotation contains an image)
A sampan is a flat bottomed boat that is traditionally used in Asia. (This annotation contains an image)
What can you tell about the character of Sanji?
Why do the binoculars seem like a miracle to Sanji?
A P-40 Tomahawk is a single seat, single engine fighter aircraft that was used during World War II. Pilots and crews would paint and name their aircraft. This is a photo of a a P-40 painted to resemble a shark. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 6 - The Crowded Sea
Tomi and Billy are going to fish from buckets. This means they have to wind their line in by hand if they catch a fish. Watch the video and you can see how challenging this would be. In the video you can hear the ocean wind blowing and imagine what it would be like for Tomi and Billy out on the open sea. (This annotation contains a video)
Read this statement from the text.Finally he grabbed it, wincing.What does wincing mean?
A mallet, gaff, and knife are all necessary when ocean fishing from a boat. The mallet is used to knock the fish out because a large flopping fish in a boat can be a dangerous thing. The gaff is used to help hoist a large fish over into the boat. This photograph shows gaffs of different styles and sizes. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Tomi's point of view on fishing differ from Papa's and Sanji's points of view?
What does Tomi mean when he says, "Billy was converted"?
Shoyu aku is tuna and soy sauce. Tamagoyaki is similar to an omelet that's been rolled up! Shoyu aku and tamagoyaki are both traditional Japanese dishes. The photo shows tamagoyaki. (This annotation contains an image)
On this page, the Hawaiian and Japanese fishermen refuse to acknowledge one another. They do not wave or even look at one another. How does this contribute to theme that is being developed?
In Japan, "sama" is added to the end of a name to show respect. It is used when speaking to someone with more authority than you. In our culture, adults shake hands when greeting one another; in Japan bowing is extremely important. Children in Japan are taught from an early age how to properly bow. It is a way of humbling yourself while showing respect. Here is a picture of President Obama bowing as he met the Emperor of Japan. (This annotation contains an image)
Tomi said that Keet "averted his eyes." What does averted mean?
Chapter 7 - Black Zenith
Keet is being very disrespectful when he calls Grampa a "Buddhahead" as he is making fun of Grampa's religious beliefs.
What does Tomi mean when he claims that Billy has "brainwashed" Charlie?
The Nazis were the German Army during WWII. They would have been considered the "bad" guys by Tomi, Billy, and Keet. During the time that Under the Blood Red Sun takes place, kids played outside and "war" was a favorite game!
Why is Billy "practically prying the fifteen cents" out of Tomi's pocket?
Here is an actual video of the series that Billy and Tomi are listening to on the radio. There is no sound to this, but you can see the game and the players and the fans! Professional baseball was wildly popular at this time in history. The video isn't like today's color HD videos, but it was considered advanced technology in 1941! (This annotation contains a video)
A contract worker is someone who has a specific job to do. Once that assignment is completed, the job is over.
Why is Grampa proud of his purple passport?
Chapter 8 - Thunder on the Moon
What does Mr. Wilson mean when he says, "You people are walking on mighty thin ice around here"?
The words of "Kimigayo" honor the Emperor of Japan. During World War II, Emperor Hirohito had total power. This is a photo of him. (This annotation contains an image)
Grampa is very upset in this scene. How does this contribute to the development of the story?
The Reuben James was sank on Oct. 31, 1941. It was torpedoed by the Germans, and 115 men died in the sinking. Surprisingly, a lot of Americans ignored the event, but for some it made the war seem unavoidable. The folk singer Woody Guthrie even wrote a song about the tragedy. (This annotation contains a video)
What can we tell about Grampa when Mama says that no one will drown the puppies, including that "poor old man sitting there looking mean"?
Tomi mentions the mongooses earlier in this chapter. They are carnivores and will kill any small animal. They are not native to Hawaii but were brought there in the 1800s to control the rodent population on the sugar plantations. Now, this introduced species threatens native born animals of the island. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Tomi think the night maneuvers are frightening?
The "Hawaii-Japanee" that Papa is talking about are the Japanese people who call Hawaii home. During the war, they could have mixed feelings as they love both Japan and America.
Read this statement from the text.I felt kind of queasy. What does queasy mean?
Chapter 9 - The Butcher
Why is Mose upset about the volcano project?
Rico says, "I make it. You fake it." He means he will build the volcano, but he wants Mose to write the report. He is suggesting that Mose not put much effort into the report. Just write something down (fake it), and turn it in!
How are Mr. Wilson and "the big guy" similar?
Why does it scare Tomi that the Butcher isn't always on target?
Babooze is Portuguese slang for "clown."
Why do Rico and Mose go back down Coral when they are warned not to?
Chapter 10 - Sunrise at Diamond Grass
A .22 is a small caliber rifle. It is often used for small game hunting and target shooting. (This annotation contains an image)
How does this scene between Keet and Mr. Wilson contribute to the plot of the story?
The Azuki bean is part of the Japanese diet. (This annotation contains an image)
Read this statement from the text.The racers had gone an extra twelve hours without food and were pretty antsy.What does antsy mean?
On Sunday December 7th, 1941, the Japanese launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base. The attack propelled the United States into World War II. This was a very frightening and stressful time in history for all of America. This video shows actual footage of the attack and will help you picture what it was like for Tomi and Billy. (This annotation contains a video)
Grampa is waving his flag so that the planes will not bomb their house. Why does this upset Tomi?
Why does Grampa look "sorrowful" when he sees Tomi with the flag and picture?
At this time in history, people got their news from the radio. Televisions were not commonplace, yet.
Chapter 11 - Jackhammers
A civilian is someone who is not in the military.
Tomi comments that he can't believe that just an hour earlier he'd "been catching pop files with Billy." Why does the author include this detail?
The island was unprepared for the surprise attack, especially on a quiet Sunday morning. The citizens of the island had to spring into action to help the injured and dying after the attack. In this photo, you can see citizens putting out a fire just after the attack. (This annotation contains an image)
The citizens of Hawaii were very frightened after the attack on Pearl Harbor. They were concerned that the Japanese would put soldiers on the ground and invade the island. Here is a newspaper that was printed just after the attack. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Kimi hiding in the closet?
The bombing was not limited to the Navy ships in the harbor. Houses, businesses, and schools were also destroyed. This photo shows a high school that was damaged in the attack. (This annotation contains an image)
Consider the soldiers' points of view in this scene. Why are they questioning Grampa and Tomi?
Martial law means the government and military are in charge of the citizens. Martial law gives the military permission to act on the citizens. It has only been in effect in our nation twice, during the Civil War and in Hawaii just after Pearl Harbor. (This annotation contains an image)
"Searchlights exploded," "slicing clouds," and "island blacked out" are some of the descriptive words found on this page. How does this imagery contribute to the tone?
Grampa is trying to say Pearl Harbor, but he can't pronounce the L sound.
Chapter 12 - Messenger Birds
Taro Nakaji is Tomi's dad.
Why is Mama upset that Tomi spoke out to the Army man?
The killing of the innocent pigeons presents a very upsetting scene. When authors include details such as these, they have a purpose in doing so. Perhaps, this author wants you to think about this: As a reader, are you more upset about the innocent BIRDS being killed than you are about the innocent PEOPLE being killed at Pearl Harbor?
Tomi says that he "looked at Grampa like it was for the first time..." What has changed Tomi's point-of-view about his Grampa?
In the days immediately following an event like Pearl Harbor, people are viewed with suspicion. In Hawaii, the backlash against the Japanese people was immediate. You have to be careful to not make judgements about these suspicions being fair or unfair. It was a very scary time for the people who lived through the bombing, and they did not know who they could trust.
The newspaper article states that "Any infractions of military rules" will be dealt with harshly.What is an infraction?
Chapter 13 - Rumors
What is Grampa referring to when he says, "We have been disgraced"?
In the days following the attack on Pearl Harbor, government officials arrested over 1,500 Japanese people living in Hawaii. Within two months, the round-up of over 112,000 Japanese citizens had begun. These Japanese people were sent to internment camps where they would be forced to live for the next four years. Internment camps were similar to prisons; the people held there were not allowed to leave. Many consider this a shameful time in America's history as these people were innocent of any wrong doing just like Tomi's family. This photo shows the arrival area at one internment camp. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Charlie insist that only Tomi can go outside ?
A kimono is a traditional Japanese garment. It fits like a robe and is most usually worn by women. This old photo shows a silk kimono. (This annotation contains an image)
Mama says, "Ojii-chan is Ojii-chan." What does she mean?
Chapter 14 - Red
Tomi shares that he tries to "be practical" about Papa missing. What does he mean by that?
Why does Tomi's family need to sell more eggs?
During World War II and in the years that followed, homes and businesses added bomb shelters. These were to provide a safe place to go in case of an attack. This photo shows a lady who has planted a garden on top of her bomb shelter. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Tomi concerned about when he wonders if Billy is the "Billy of the Rats"?
The fragments of a bomb or shell are the shrapnel. This photo shows pieces of shrapnel. (This annotation contains an image)
What is Billy's point of view about Grampa's flag waving incident?
Chapter 15 - Shikata Ga Nai
Why does Tomi have a burning feeling in his throat when he sees Rico and Mose?
During World War II, many goods were rationed. That meant citizens could only buy limited quantities of things like gasoline, sugar, and coffee. These were things that were needed for the war effort. Families were given ration stamps to track how much they were buying. When they went to purchase a limited product, they had to give a stamp to the store to prove they hadn't gone past the limit. This photo shows a ration stamp used when buying sugar. (This annotation contains an image)
How have Tomi's feelings toward Grampa changed?
Japs in an inappropriate term.
Read this statement from the text."We will," Mose said, nodding his head vigorously.What does vigorously mean?
The katana is the samurai sword.
How does the conversation between Grampa and Charlie contribute to the central idea of the book?
Chapter 16 - Mari
The Arizona was completely sunk by the Japanese. Today, the sight is a national park, and visitors can still see oil on the surface of the water. This small amount of oil has continued to leak since 1941. In a strange way, it serves as a reminder of the tragedy that occurred. The photo is of the park site today. The outline shows the position of the ship underwater. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Billy mean when he says, "Somebody's got to teach you a little tact"?
Tomi doesn't understand the Japanese language because he has lived in Hawaii his entire life.
Based on the evidence in the text, what does it mean if someone feels indebted?
Chapter 17 - Sand Island
Sand Island was one of the first internment camps opened. It was put into place on Dec. 9, 1941, just two days after the bombing. This old photo shows the tents on Sand Island that were used to house the Japanese detainees. (This annotation contains an image)
The tanks and men are on the island to protect Tomi, so why does this make him feel as if he is in a nightmare?
Why is the water "oily, fuel-smelling"?
Kiawe trees originally grow in South America. They were introduced to Hawaii in the 1800s and now grow all over the island. This photo shows a thicket of kiawe. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is Papa unhappy to see Tomi?
During the war, cities and homes would leave their lights off at night. These blackouts would make it very difficult for any enemy planes to find targets to bomb after dark. This photo shows a family hanging special blackout curtains during the war. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 18 - Tough Guys
An MP is the military police.
Why did the MP turn the flashlight off quickly?
This is a very derogatory or disrespectful statement.
What does Tomi mean when he says that Mama's face was hardening?
Since the beginning of the book, how has the character of Mama changed?
There is a great picture book named "Baseball Saved Us" that tells the story of the importance of playing baseball to a young Japanese boy in a World War II internment camp. Your library might have the book! (This annotation contains an image)
Rico and Tomi have different ideas about walking down Coral. Why is Tomi wanting to avoid Coral?
What does the idiom hit me like a brick mean?
Chapter 19 - The Kaka’ako Boys
Why are the Rats accusing the Kaka'ako Boys of cheating?
You may have had this experience playing games on the playground or in your neighborhood. When it's just you and your friends without an official umpire, everyone has to play fair or the game is no fun!
How does learning The Butcher's real name and hearing him speak change the boys' perspective on him?
Why is Tomi going to "miss those guys"?
Chapter 20 - Lucky
Kerosene was in very short supply and rationed during the war. Homes relied upon the fuel for cooking and lighting. This photo shows an old kerosene cook stove. (This annotation contains an image)
Based on what you read earlier in the text, why does Mama insist that Tomi take all of the eggs to the Davises?
Joe DiMaggio was a very famous and well-loved baseball player in the 1940s. He was a favorite of Yankees fans. As a Yankee, he had a 56 game hitting streak and earned the nickname Joltin' Joe DiMaggio. (This annotation contains an image)
What does Tomi mean that he can see a "little bit of Rico" in Grampa?
How have Grampa's feelings toward the Japanese flag changed?
Wakara-na means "I don't understand."
Why does Mama so quickly agree to go work for the Wilsons again?
Chapter 21 - The Katana
Watch this video on conflict, or the problems a character faces in literature. As you watch, consider the internal (feelings and thoughts) conflict that Tomi is experiencing. Also, think about the external (outside of himself) conflict Tomi has to face. At the end of the chapter, you will answer a question about Tomi's conflict. (This annotation contains a video)
Read this statement from the text.The Wilsons' house loomed over me.What does loomed mean?
Which words best describe Mama?
How have Tomi's feelings toward his family's heritage changed since the beginning of the book? You might find it helpful to focus on the family katana and what it represents to the family. CIte evidence from the text as you write your response.
A samurai was a highly regarded warrior in the Japanese military. The samurai was known for his nobility and courage. This photograph shows a samurai in full military gear. You can see he is holding his smaller katana while his larger one is in his belt. (This annotation contains an image)
Furoshiki is a cloth used for wrapping. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Tomi's external conflict with Keet combined with his better appreciation for his family's heritage change him?
Chapter 22 - Not Far From Pearl Harbor
During World War II, letters would be read by the military and checked for any information that could be used by spies. That information would then be marked through or blacked out before the letter was sent. Here is a photo of an actual WWII letter. This letter was written by a military man to his wife. He tells where he has been assigned, but that information was blacked out before the letter was sent. (This annotation contains an image)
Why is everyone excited that school is back in session?
Following Pearl Harbor, there was a great fear that a poisonous gas attack would be next. After all, during World War I poisonous gas was used as a weapon with devastating results. The fear was very real. This is a photo of a gas mask that was issued to citizens as a precaution. (This annotation contains an image)
Why would Billy not work in the pineapple fields?
What does Tomi mean when he says, "Mr. Ramos let the silence eat at us"?
Think about how this statement fits into the central idea of the book. The conflict between Keet and Tomi is about power. The conflict around Grampa is about Grampa's power to honor his heritage. Think about all of the struggles between the characters for power of some type, and compare that to the war that is over power!
What is Tomi's primary struggle in this part of the chapter?
Billy is making a valid point. In the days immediately following the attack, no one knew who exactly was responsible. Everyone was concerned with the safety and defense of the people of Hawaii. Unfortunately, history has shown that fear can quickly turn to hate. That is what happened in some cases as this photo shows. (This annotation contains an image)
Why does Tomi feel "peaceful" after telling the man that he is "an American"?
Kahiko o ke akua is Hawaiian for "adornment (beauty) of the gods." (This annotation contains an image)
How does this scene of the friends walking down the street with their arms around one another contribute to the plot of the book?