As I mentioned during class today, I was particularly struck by Gunnar’s wedding in the reading for this weekend. The UPS driver conducted the ceremony in which Gunnar had to sign for his wife. When Gunnar questioned whether his wife—Yoshiko—had to sign, the delivery man said, “Nope, she’s just like a package. She came with instructions, but it’s all in Japanese” (166). There are many reasons I can think of for why the UPS driver referred to Yoshiko as a package rather than as a woman or wife.
Could the reason for why the UPS driver referred to Yoshiko as a package be that she is Japanese? Was this referral of a human being to an object actually a racist comment? We have reason to believe that this could be true based on a comment made by Gunnar’s mother after the wedding. His mother states that she likes Yoshiko because “She got spirit, escaping from a repressive society to seek her fortune in a strange world” (168). By referring to Japan as a “repressive society”, Gunnar’s mother is demonstrating that she feels the United States to be superior to Japan. If the opinion of Gunnar’s mother is similar to that of the UPS driver, then it is reasonable to assume that the UPS driver’s comment about Yoshiko being a package was in fact racist.
Another reason for the comment made by the UPS driver could be that it was made due to Yoshiko being a woman. The fact that Gunnar—a man—had to sign the marriage papers and Yoshiko—a woman—did not illustrates the lack of rights the female has.
These reasons could be overthought and the actual reason for Yoshiko being called a package could be that she actually was one. Gunnar refers to Yoshiko as a “mail-order bride through the services of Hot Mama-sans of the Orient” (165). This reveals to us that Yoshiko was in fact a package. However, the UPS driver did not need to refer to her as one and I believe the reasons aforementioned—racism and sexism—could be the reason for this nickname.