The Devils in Ourselves

The Story Devils, by Cynthia Kadohata is a look into the life of a young girl
looking to protect her family in any way possible. The story is based on a real life
experience of the author and shows how we can, at times, let the devil in ourselves come
out and play. The author, now living in Los Angeles, writes this as almost a warning; but
the reader gets the feeling that she would do what she did again, in a second.
The story takes place after World War II in the town of Chesterville, Arkansas. It
was a small town with small town problems, and had a Japanese community living within
it. The story was written in 1989 and reflect the uncertainties of the post World War II
period. Within the small community there lived a woman that had been through a recent
divorce, and was raising three children, Kate, the author, and her brother Sean. Because
the mother is having a problem making ends meet, she begins to go to church and meets
the antagonist, Mr. Mason.
The story is told by the author in the body and mind of an eight year old. It is a
first-person narration and she is playing the part of the protagonist. The point of view
remains constant throughout the story, which gives you only the viewpoint of the author
to get facts from. Although this may be a possibly unreliable perspective, due to selective
memory, the story is told in a straightforward manner suggesting truth and honesty.
During the story the author realizes that Mr. Mason is a violent man. This is
learned through several instances, such as when he forced the mother into a crying fit in
her bedroom in the beginning of the story. He was also violent when he threw a rock at a
young boy that had wandered over to the yard to play. These incidents forced the author
to do something that she did not relish, but deemed necessary in order to save her family
from this man; since she new her mother was planning on marrying him. She lied to her
mother and told her that Mr. Mason had hit her. At first it wasn’t believed, but when her
quiet sister Kate backed up her story, the mother sought to separate herself from this man.
The family moved to Chicago and the author never saw Mr. Mason again.
As was stated before, the story was believable because of the author’s almost
relenting of a story that she had kept inside for a long time. It was almost as if she was
sorry for what she had done, but felt that it was necessary to eliminate her perceived
threat, Mr. Mason. In this way the author could almost be seen as an antagonist to Mr.
Mason. They almost shifted roles, and the author found herself with the power to hurt
him. Another way that helped the story to be believable, was the comedy relief offered by
the author’s brother’s chair crashing to the floor when the mother was telling them that
she had been baptized. It was a well timed addition to the story. I enjoyed this story and
feel that I had a connection with the author and the main character, for I to have some
devils inside.