ABSTRACT. The delineation of interethnic relations between Japanese Americans and other ethnic minorities in the work of a Japanese American author, Hisaye Yamamoto (1921–2011), has been a major research focus in the field of Asian American literature. The Eskimo Connection (1983) presents such an interaction between a female Japanese American and a male Alaskan Native American character in a unique setting: by letters of correspondence between California and a prison in the Midwest. It is well known that Yamamoto was deeply fascinated by the Catholic faith, although the religious aspect of her work has not been much explored. The current paper analyzes the Christian motifs and implications in The Eskimo Connection with a view to presenting a new interpretation: namely that the story can be read as Yamamoto’s creative re-narration of a Catholic legend, the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. By reconstructing the legend within the story of an interethnic relationship, Yamamoto seems to challenge Euro-American-centric Christianity. This article will clarify Yamamoto’s perspective on interethnic solidarity as a survivor of the internment camp and a religious person whose faith is heavily inspired by Catholicism.

Keywords: Japanese American; Native American; Eskimo; interethnicity; Christianity; creative retelling

Furukawa T (2020) Creatively retelling a catholic legend in Hisaye Yamamoto’s The Eskimo Connection. Creativity 3(2): 137–157. doi:10.22381/C3220205

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Kobe University, Japan

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