Why Don't You Wear Shoes

In “Why Don’t You Wear Shoes” by Daniel Inouye, the main character Dan has multiple obstacles in his path that he must over come. One difficulty would be changes in his life, conflicts with those around him as well. Another hardship Dan dealt with was the questioning of who he was and prejudices.

Dan is a U.S citizen, which resides in Hawaii that speaks using combinations of Chinese, Japanese and also Hawaiian in his English. Being a Nisei which is considered the grandchildren of Japanese –born immigrants that were called Sansei, he did not start wearing shoes until he was in high school because his family was poor. Upon entering Japanese language school is when Dan faces conflicts with which he is and what someone else wants him to be. There was priest that taught Dan as well as the other students about ethics and Japanese history. While in the middle of a lesson the teacher began criticizing the Christian religion. “I give you the Bible it’s self as best evidence of this Christian foolishness. Their God made the world in seven days, it says. Ha! Then he made a man and from a rib of that man’s rib, mark-you –he made a woman. Ha! Anyone with any part of a brain can see that this is the wildest nonsense!” This statement made by the priest questioned Dan’s own identity and if he was going to be what others desire him to be. Knowing the answer to his identity Dan requests that if he respects shinotism than the priest should give respect to his as well. When told that he is Japanese Dan responds with being an American and is therefore thrown out of the classroom outside. Finding out about the event that took place at school his mother takes hi back to the school to settling the matter of honor. Explaining to the principal the she didn’t send her son to this school to become a samurai he’s given the opportunity of leaving, he decides that he’s learned enough and departs from the school.

Entering into the second half of the story Dan enrolls into a Standard English speaking high school. Thanks to his English teacher Ms.King he becomes interested in reading and in art of written works. Realizing how adept he’s become in those departments she recommended him for the honor society. The first question they asked him was “Why don’t you wear shoes?” That question was asked by a boy whom he had known for the last five years knew that Dan received shoes two years ago, but doesn’t wear them to keep them in good condition to make them last. In this section of the story Dan has to coop with prejudice against economic standings. The honor society was judging him on where he stood economically and if he associated himself with those who are in the same position as him. But if all you're looking for is guys who wear white shirts and shoes, you don't want me and I for sure don't want you. I wouldn't trade one of my friends for ... for both your honor societies and all four of you, so just forget the whole thing!" Calling them out, Dan decided that if they are accepting people on what they posses he rather not join their society.

Dan stays in school to prove that the senior’s wrong about being economically high or above average in society was the only was to succeed in life. He wanted to prove that clothing or money doe not make a man, but the man makes the man.

© rehana edwards2010