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     Ruth Ozeki, the author of All Over Creation spoke in an interview discussing that "Nothing exists independently of anything else. Novels, stories, are always about relationship, so they are a beautiful way to investigate and to talk about this quality of interbeing, the way we inter-are" (Meeks). When the term 'environment' is used to describe both the physical setting and surrounding characters in Ozeki's novel, this idea of a mutual relationship between environment and individuals is at the coreOzeki proves that shared experience of environment, or the lack thereof, will influence characters' decisions to the extent of impacting their choice of destination and their involvement in community.  

     The novel is set iIdaho where Yumi, the protagonist, blossoms through childhood in a small, racially singular townYumi, a biracial child, struggles for many years to find her identity. “That’s what it felt like when I was growing up, like I was a random fruit in a field of genetically identical potatoes” (20). In this racially unparalleled town, she searches for connection with incongruous human beings. Yet, when she is unsuccessful at finding appropriate relationships with others, she intends to leave Idaho. When she reaches California and Hawaii, Yumi matures and becomes successful by earning a graduate's degree and creating a family of her own. In these locations she relates to other characters and feels comfortable, allowing for happiness. However, Yumi must eventually return, eliciting an overwhelming sense of unbelonging. “The close warmth of the car was suffocating. No air. Nowhere to go. No choice but to talk without too much thinking" (121). Unsettling thoughts again cloud Yumi's mind when she lives in Idaho. Initially, Yumi abandons her home because she is unique in her environment, yet Ozeki's claim of shared experience is stressed when Yumi's successes and happiness only occur outside of her hometown  

     Similar to Yumi, Momoko is a very resilient character who endures life in a foreign country with foreign peopleMomoko was different. “People used to smile, call them Mutt and Jeff... you can imagine the two of them, standing in the fields, side by side, Lloyd as tall as a runner bean stalk and Momoko barely coming up to his buckle. Dressed in jeans turned up at the cuff and hanging from her shoulders by suspenders, she looked like Lloyd’s son instead of his wife" (22). Momoko has always shared a love with Lloyd for agriculture and cultivating. “He watched Momoko cultivate her garden, he realized that for her, seeds were the sole objective. She tended her plants, allowing them to ripen, to flower and die—and only then did she get down to business… Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night. . . . She was more reliable than the birds and the bees, and with a far greater reach" (201-202). However her fondness for gardening becomes an obsession when Yumi leaves Idaho. Momoko attaches so dearly to her plants because part of her identity leaves with her daughter. “She got very upset when she forgot. One day she sat down on the floor of the storage room and started banging her head with a muddy fist. “What is name? What is name?” Over and over. It was just some damn pea, but she couldn’t remember, and she just sat there in all that dirt, smacking herself until I grabbed her wrists and held them" (298). Momoko chooses to stay in Idaho because it is her home and she does not wish to leave her husband. Yet ishe had not been the only Japanese woman in her town or if Yumi still lived with her parents, she would have felt more comfortable and integrated herself into her community. Momoko's shared experience of environment disappears with Yumi; this lack of connection with anyone causes Momoko to ostracize herself and obsess over seeds. 

     In contrast to Yumi and Momoko, Frankie shares experiences with the Sputnik group with whom he becomes closely attached. Before Frankie met the Seeds of Resistance, he was a self sufficient character who embodied his own freedom. “At four-thirty in the morning, riding his skateboard under the hazy orange glow of the road lights, Frank had the whole place to himself, and the wind was freedom" (92). Moreover, the lifestyle in which Frankie grew up forced him to be independent. As a result, Frankie lived dissimilar to typical adolescents. “Frank was a suburban kid, and a foster kid to boot. He knew that the world sucked. He listened to hardcore. He’d grown up in malls. He worked as a janitor at McDonald’s and would have dropped out of school except he couldn’t think of anything more interesting to do" (107). Yet when Frankie met the Sputnik group, he became captivated with everything they embodiedThe Seeds of Resistance represented independence from social norms, a very familiar lifestyle to Frankie. He’d never wanted anything more in his life. He didn’t get half of what they were doing, but they were cool about it" (177). This lifestyle of wandering with no predetermined agenda is what attracted Frankie to the Seeds of Resistance. He could identify with their independence and lack of stability, making him feel so welcome. With Sputnik, Frankie is still able to maintain his self sufficient and unique lifestyle, however now he has company.   

     The relationship between environment and identity are so dependent, they impact a character's development and destination in lifeYumi, Momoko, and Frankie evolve into their characters because of the influence their environment possesses. These characters Ozeki writes about support her claim that "nothing exists independently of anything else" (Meeks).  


Works Cited 

"Interview With an Independent Writer: Ruth Ozeki." Interview by Catherine Meeks. Asle. Spring 2013 Edition of ASLE News, Spring 2013. Web. 30 Oct. 2015. 

Ozeki, Ruth. All Over Creation. New York, New York: Penguin, 2004. IBooks. Penguin Books, 2004. Web. 30 Oct. 2015.


Link to initial paper: /oneworld/changing-our-story-2015/dependence