Miklowitz, Gloria D. - The War Between the Classes

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University) 2000 14 Pages

Didactics - English - Literature, Works



1. Summaries (Chapter 1-14)

2. Description of the Color-Game

3. Characterization of Amy and Adam and their families
3.1. Amy and her family
3.2. Adam and his family

4.1. Relationship: Amy and Adam
4.2. Subplot: Hideo and Sue

5. Assessment of the Color Game

6. Book Review

1. Summaries

The following are short summaries of each chapter of the book "The War Between the Classes" written by Gloria D. Miklowitz - an author who has specialized in writing young adult books. The story takes place in somewhere in California and deals with a relationship between Amy a young of Japanese extraction and Adam an upper-class WASP. For their disappointment their parents are too prejudice to really accept their relationship.

Chapter 1

At the beginning of this chapter Amy is waiting at home for her boyfriend Adam. As he arrives - and after her father has told her to be back right in time - both are driving to a dance at school. On the way she is telling him about the fear of her father that he could "lost" her like her older Brother Hideo who married a white women. When they enter the courtyard Amy is first talking to her friends Carol and Juan. Hereafter she moves with Adam to a table which his friend Justin has reserved for them and some other friends. Then because Adam has requested her for it, Amy shows the others how to dance the hula. Soon Juan - a friend of Amy - and Justin are in trouble who is next to dance with her. Just before they begin to fight Amy divides them saying that she has already promised Juan to dance with him. Both begin to talk about what happened just until Adam joins them and she goes away with him.

Chapter 2

This Chapters starts in front of Amy’s house. Amy and Adam are sitting in his car when Amy looks on her watch and gets shocked that it is already so late. She is hastening to the house hoping that her parents are already asleep but instead both are still waiting for her coming home. So she gets in trouble because of being late and her father forbids her to see Adam for a week. Sad she goes to bed.

The next day she calls Adam at his home when their parents are outside working. First of all she is a little bit confused and fears that she only is "some girl" for Adam but she soon calms down and informs Adam about what has happened and that she cannot go to the beach party with him.

Afterwards she is visiting her Brother Hideo and his wife Sue which Amy has not seen for about a year because her father prohibits her to do so because of being angry that Hideo has married without his permission. Both are living in small and old apartment trying to make the best out of it. They are eating some chicken Sue has cooked and are talking about several things including the color game. Moreover Hideo tells his parents that they are going to get a child. First off all Mr. Sumoto reacts in a very unfriendly way just asking Hideo if he could afford that. But then he notices that it might be not so bad to have a grandchild.

Chapter 3

The next day she meets Adam when she is walking at school and Amy tells him what she has get to know about the color game and her fear that it could divide them. However she is thinking that this might be a good test for their relationship. When they arrives at class - in front the students sorted by skin colors - Otero, their teacher, arrives an opens unlocks the door. He informs everybody that the game will start today and thereafter explain its rules (Þ 2. Description of the Color Game). A few, especially Adam, think that this game is far from reality and shows it in making some jokes. Nevertheless everybody has to chose a color by chance so that Amy gets Blue and Adam Orange. Sad about this situation Adam tells her that there is the possibility that he is promoted or she is demoted so that they could meet in the middle. Other people just like Paul Thomas, a black, enjoys their new status and superiority.

Chapter 4

This Chapter begins in the library where Amy is thinking about what has happened. We get to know that in a Japanese Camp she has learned, besides other things, that being female means being a chameleon adapting the boy you are dating with. Moreover she does not want to be bad to be demoted because its not her way of living. That all makes her felling trapped by others just like her father or even Adam.

Later, at lunchtime, she searches Adam and finds out that he is in the back of the row just because being an orange. After she has taken her food she sits down on a table with him, Justin, Melissa and some others. As Justin wants to answer Melissa’s question about the armbands and several other things Amy gets angry and remembers him of her superiority. But he does not want to follow her instructions and so gets into trouble with Brian a G4 so that Amy regrets a little that she is responsible for this. Moreover Brian remembers Amy to stop socializing with an Orange like Adam. So she is a little depressed but Adam promises to call her.While she is await of that call in the afternoon she thinks about seeing Adam when she is going to tutor his sister Bettina. When he calls her they are talking about what happened in school and Adam has to admit that it does not feel good to be in so a low position and several other things related with the game and their relationship.

Chapter 5

The next chapter starts with Amy on her way to school lost in thought when Brian arrives and tries to get a date with her. Adam interrupts and remembers him that Amy is his girl but Brian uses his position as a G4 to quiet him. But however Amy does not want to go with him so that he leaves. Then she arrives at class this time the students standing sorted by the colors of the game. In class Thomas makes a joke about how it would be if he could keep his position also in real live and then Mary - a G4 - explains another aspect of the game: sex discrimination. (Þ 2. Description of the Color Game) Afterwards some students including Adam and Amy are fined for offences of the rules. But Amy is shocked that Adam because of being an Orange is fined much more then here. For the remaining time Otero shows them some other examples of racial injustice how it could be find in literature.After class Amy is talking to Carol - a friend of Amy who owns the position of a Dark Green - about cheating the game. But Carol is unsure what to do and Amy must fear that she might be reported to Brian because Carol really wants to be promoted.

Chapter 6

Amy tutors or better tries to tutor Bettina in math because Bettina tries everything to avoid it just as talking about a boy from school. Soon we get to know that Bettina has the prejudice the Orientals are especially good in mathematics but Amy tells her that it is only a matter practice and not of color. Even though she has promised Adam to wait for him coming from soccer practice she has to left. On the way outside she meets Mrs. Tarcher which makes feeling her uncomfortable just taking her for Eileen - a girl she prefers instead of Amy. When she leaves Adam arrives in his car, jumps out and explains that he is sorry because he could not manage to leave earlier. Both go happily back into his car but Amy cannot forget what happened and feels again sad because of their parents prejudices. Adam tells her his experiences of being low class and because he ask if it is always that way for those people Amy tells him a story about a man who lost his arm so that he could not longer work and that his family has so no more chance to move up in society. Therefor Adam explains her that he now understands what Otero want to show with the game but that he is also going to manipulate its the system. Before Amy can answer the two are disturb by a policeman but as he recognizes that he is speaking to Adam Tarcher he is sorry and lefts. Just before she leaves she remembers when her brother has been in trouble with the police and that this officer has not been so polite because Hideo is no privileged.

Chapter 7

Later in the evening she is calling Carol. After a while they arrange to meet at the shopping hall next Saturday. Moreover we get to know how Amy has tried to convince other Blues to help her cheating the game in uniting all colors but has not been successful. So she hopes now that maybe Carol would help her.

On Saturday just before going to the mall she is visiting Hideo and Sue. Both are doing housework and Amy is surprised where her brother has learned to do so. Later Amy wants to know how they have met and if their different colors has ever mattered. So we get to know that both have met in College and that Hideo has first tried to avoid further contact with Sue because of fearing the old-fashioned opinion of his parents but he could not manage this for very long. For Sue it never matter that Hideo has got another color because for her those things are unimportant. But she knows that other people do so and is of the opinion that Otero’s game might let them notice what they are doing.

At the mall Amy meets Carol in front of the bookstore. As Carol presents Amy the romances she has bought she notices for the first time that it shows always white people on the cover. We are also informed that Amy and Adam have met in a Toy Factory on the mall where she has worked. Afterwards they are going in a fast-food-restaurant talking about the game and how Amy wants to cheat it as Brian - a G4 - arrives. He checks for the armbands an journals and as he assumes that Amy has just forget to wear her armband she tells him that she has intentionally not brought it with her so that she is going to be reported and demoted.

Chapter 8

When Amy is lost in thoughts why she is going to be a rebel, Bettina - Adams sister - calls her because she wants to tell her that she passed the math test. Moreover she insists that Adam is going to have a party at Saturday with some friends and also Eileen so that Amy is confused that Adam has not invited her.

Saturday night she is playing chess with her father telling him about the color game and her try to cheat it. But her father cannot understand her will to be a rebel instead of being pleased with her position in the game. He cannot understand why she wants to help the lower classes and begins to speak about his time in a camp during World War II and Amy’s grandfather who has tried to change things and was sent to another camp. And when Amy says her brother thinks she should do what is right and not what is safe he blames him being unknowing because he has lived longer and therefore more experiences he can relate to.

The next day she is producing posters saying "All Colors Unite" for putting them up at school.

Later she call Juan - because of not knowing someone else - for help her doing this. And both together manages it without any problems. The next day she arrives at school she bows back at everybody just showing to be equal. Moreover she sits down at a table with Light Greens getting the attention of the G4’s and the advice to move to the right table. In class they are talking about a book they had have to read "Black like me" which deals with a educated white man how wants to know if color really matter so that he changes his skin color to black and therefore has to notice that everybody just looked at his color and not at his capabilities.

Then Brian begins to speak blaming the Oranges to have put up those posters and wants to know who is responsible for it. Finally Amy and Juan admits to be responsible and so that they are both demoted Orange.

Chapter 9

Amy and Adam leaves class together when there is soon a little trouble why Juan helped her and not he but after a while everything is right again. And when Amy goes to her next class they are already going to have an Orange meeting at Adam’s house later. There - after everybody is convinced that Amy is no spy - they are making plans what they could do to improve the situation and soon there is the idea of making four-color-armbands for everybody at school to finally unite all colors. They decide to meet at Juan because his mother is doing piecework for dress manufacture so that there is enough material to be used for it.

Chapter 10

On Wednesday Amy is called by her brother who tells her that Sue does not feel all right and he has unfortunately an urgent meeting so that Amy offers him to look for her right after school.

On her way to school she meets Brian blaming her being late and wanting to see her journal so that she has to stay in the rain a little longer. Therefore she is in hurry and sit down in the first row like usual but is send to the front by Carol who has promoted Blue. In the Lesson they are talking about another book Otero has forced them to read. It is "Down These Mean Streets" which deals with a Puerto Rican and his experiences of living in the USA. This man was unable to move up in society and was not accepted by upper classes because of being white. Because of this some which similar roots begin to report about their parents or grandparents bad experiences and that differences color and money seems to be the factors most responsible for it.

After class Amy calls Mrs. Tarcher to excuse her for today in explaining her the situation and offering her to tutor Bettina next Saturday. Moreover Amy is surprised that Mrs. Tarcher does not say anything like: "Hope she feel better soon!"

Later Adam drives her to Sue who is found by Amy in the bedroom not looking good. After Amy has got to know that she has lost a lot of blood Sue begins to cry so that Amy tries comfort her and calls her parents. When they arrives the cares for her cooking some special tea and explaining that she should rest in bed like the doctor has said.

Chapter 11

This Chapter is introduced by an journal entry of Amy telling us about a test they have written in class and that it has seemed to be much easier for the upper colors than for the lower. Furthermore she calls Sue which has unfortunately lost her baby and say that she wants no one to come over before tonight. Moreover Amy informs her parents about this when they comes home from work. And she blames her father being unfair to Sue so that her mother shows her the things she has made for Hideo’s and Sue’s baby and the old bonsai which her father was going to hand to them. Finally they decide to get over tonight. When they arrive Hideo opens them, looking very sad. Quiet they are going into the bedroom where Mr. Sumoto settles the bonsai on the dresser and explains Sue that Hideo and the doctor are all right when they says she shall take care of herself and not go to work. Moreover he promises her that she will have a son one day. And for the first time they seem to be one big family.

Chapter 12

After tutoring Bettina Amy and Adam are driving to Juan’s house. On the way they are talking about the contest which Adam might win and then Amy ask for the party she was not invited. But Adam is surprised and then angry because he realizes that his sister has played a shabby trick on them.

When they arrive at Juan’s the Oranges and some Light Greens are already going to produce the four-color-armbands and some new "All Color Unite"-posters. Both are helping to finish the latter. Beside they all are talking about several things and their experiences with the color game. Around six o’clock everything is finished and they are going to load everything in there cars when Brian arrives and tries to confiscate everything but they just ignore him. So that he cannot do anything except promising them that he has ways to hinder their rally they have planed for Wednesday.

Chapter 13

When Amy arrives at school next Monday she is immediately going to her locker to stow away some of the new armbands when she is stopped by Paul Thomas who seems to know something about it. But then she can reach her aim without further disturbance. In the rest room she meets Gwen a Blue who is also informed about the rally and warns Amy that G4’s and Otero plans something to hinder it. Moreover she will try to find out how it should be managed. Moreover she does not treat Amy like an Orange but a friend.

In front of a class Dark Greens and Blues are still separated but Oranges and Light Greens have begun to mix. At the beginning of the lessons Otero reminds everybody of the beauty contest and that it shall show how sexist they really are. The girls sit down in a circle around the boys which are forced to demonstrate their physical attributes. After a while more and more boys are sorted out finally only Adam and Paul remains. To decide who will win there is a kind of quiz based on differences between the genders. At last Paul wins. Afterwards - just before they leave class - the students talk about the contest and their feelings about it.

Chapter 14

This is the last chapter and deals with the rally on Wednesday. It starts with Amy awaking, having breakfast and going to school. On the way she meets Gia - Dark Green - who tells her that something is going on with the armbands they have met. The posters has been already hang up but no one make any attempt in removing them. Before she can open her locker Adam appears, looking angry because all of the four-color-armbands disappeared. Soon they suppose that someone must be a spy. Not knowing what to do Gwen arrives with some red ribbons which they can use as armbands. And it works. Everybody wants to get an armband and soon the whole school is wearing them.

When they arrive at class Otero is proud because for the first time a class was able to united everybody before the game ends. The fines the G4’s imposes does not matter for anybody now.

On Friday morning Amy’s mother asks her about Adam and tells her that they was possible wrong. Moreover her Dad has had the idea of inviting Adam for dinner. Happily she is going to school.

There they sit down in a circle and before dropping their color-bands they are talking about their experiences with the game. They get also to know how Otero it has managed to select what people shall become what color and that Troy was the spy who has informed the G4’s about the rally. And he is also very proud because of Amy who has successfully changed the system of the game. Many have found new friends through the game and are going to stop judging others by color now. In the end Adam declares that he would like having dinner with Amy and her parents very much.

2. Description of the Color-Game

The Color Game developed by Ray Otero works like described in the following text. First off all there are four colors (Blue, Dark Green, Light Green, Orange) representing four different classes in society, with Blue at the top and Orange at the bottom. All participants of the game - which will last four weeks - are allocated to one color by random - that is what they think - but in fact there is a pre-selection by the teacher based on a evaluation of a test everyone has had to write. So if they have "chosen" a color they get a armband of their color and a journal which his to be carried all the time. In this journal they have to write a report of every day helping the teacher to decide if the owner learns anything or not what can be a responsibility for de- or promoting someone.

By the rules of the game inferior colors are not allowed to speak to or socialize with superior ones. The other way round a superior color may address an inferior. Moreover lower colors must show their inferiority by bowing to higher colors. And - of course - higher colors does have more privileges in society so they gets e.g. more money than others. Then there is a police force called G4 which is responsible for checking if every keeps to the rules of the game and will fine everyone who is not doing not. The G4’s also check for the journals. Additionally there are spies who will report when someone tries to rebel against the system. Besides reporting someone who does so means the chance of moving up in the game. Furthermore all the subject of sex-discrimination is included in the game working vice versa as in real life. That means that women - or Teks like they are called in the game - are the superior and man - called No-Teks - the inferior gender. Moreover that has to be shown by every No-Tek in curtsying to Teks. In addition No-Teks are also forced to bring self made cookies and coffee to class. And they will also take part in a beauty contest so that Teks could judge for their physical attributes and talents. And at last Teks also gets more money then No- Teks of the same color.

The game was developed because of the still present prejudices against people of other classes of society or other colors. This game shall prevent that these prejudice still grow and furthermore demonstrate that they are unfounded. The color game helps to understand the situation of others better so that the participants of the game learn to get along with each other after it. It also shall prove how man treats women without really knowing. So they are forced to think about their behavior. Moreover it illustrates how society really is and instruct people to behave in another way just like they have learned in the game. So a - when also far aim - of the game is to change society as well.

3. Characterization of Amy and Adam their families

3.1. Amy and her family

Amy Sumoto - which is the nickname for the Japanese name Emiko - is the first person narrator in the story from whose point of view the story is presented. That can be proven with following. So first of all we get only to know about her experiences, thoughts and feelings. Other persons are therefore always seen through her eyes. Moreover there is no other narrator in the story. For that reason we suppose that she is the main character of the story. Her outward appearance is not described very detailed in the story but she is generally described as beautiful and exotic. It is very probably that she looks like Japanese person in general. Moreover we get to know the following about her. She is - like already mentioned - Japanese and lives with her parents in a multi-cultural middle-class neighborhood. She is 17 years old and is therefore going to high school. Her most preferred teacher is Mr. Otero who is also the developer of the color game and instructs it to the class.

Except the end - that means the last two chapters - she has a not so good relationship to her father because she thinks that he is old-fashioned and stubborn and not accepting that she is in love with Adam a WASP. (Þ 4.1 Relationship: Amy and Adam) Moreover she blames him and also her mother for not being able to accept Sue - the wife of her older brother Hideo - as a part of the family. But in the end we get to know that her parents are not so narrow minded like Adam’s parents and sister. (Þ 3.2 Adam and his family). And we get also to know that he has a real reason to be prejudices what are his experiences in a camp he was forced to live during World War II. But deep inside she loves her parents.During the color game she tries several times to help the lower colors and to unite all against the system. She also does not give up when she is demoted an Orange and finally is successful. That shows that she can be a very strong-willed person if she really believes in something. So she does e.g. say that it is not in her "nature to try to fail." (p.33, l.33)

Moreover she is usually very friendly and polite towards others. For example in the color game she does not treat someone bad only because he is of a lower color. Of course there are some exception - especially in her treatment towards Justin and Brian - but in general she tries to be a diplomatic person.

Furthermore - mainly relating to Adam - she is also very loyal. So she does not go out with Brian just because she cannot go with Adam or does not end their relationship only he is said to have a party with Eileen instead of her. That also shows the deepness of her love towards Adam.

3.2. Adam and his family

Adam is Amy’s boyfriend. Because of this close relationship to the narrator of the story we can say that he is the second main character in the story. Adam is a white American upper- class WASP. The he must be wealthy can be proven with following. So he is living in a very big house on "Valley Vista" (p.9, l.5) which is described by Amy as looking like a "castle" (p.9, l.8) with "fourteen or more rooms" (p.9, l.6). Moreover he has got his own and expensive car, an "BMW" (p.52, l.4). He is also one of the best looking boys in class so he is e.g. one of the last two No-Teks in the beauty-contest and is e.g. compared with a statue of a "young Greek" (p.8, l.13). Moreover he has "golden" meaning blonde "hair" (p.8, l.14/15) so that he is a strong and attractive boy.

He has got a sister called Bettina who is a few years younger than him and who is tutored in mathematics by Amy. Moreover we got to know a little about his mother but nothing about his father. All in this family - maybe except Adam - have prejudice against non-white persons. So she is of the opinion that Amy is not good enough for Adam and wants to replace her with Eileen - an also rich white girl form the circle of friends of the family. Moreover she e.g. thinks "that Orientals have special attitudes for math and science" (p.49, l.7 f.) how Bettina informs Amy when she is tutored by her. That shows indicates that she is also prejudiced. Moreover she plays a shabby trick on Adam and Amy when phoning Amy and telling her that Adam is going to have a party with some friends just as Eileen. But also because of his prejudices and the conflicts with his parents he is not willed to leave Amy just because other does not accept her.

4.1 Relationship: Amy and Adam

The relationship between Amy and Adam develops into the story so that I will try to draw attention to the most important points in this process. In the beginning there are in love and especially Adam does not see what could change their relationship but Amy already recognizes the prejudices from both families which try to separate them. Then their relation is menaced by Amy’s father who places her under house arrest four one week because of coming home late from the dance. (Þ Chapter 2) Therefore she is not able to got with Adam to a beach party and because of this calls him but when is call just "some girl" (p. 18, l. 6) she begins to doubt that Adam is upright to her especially when he tells her to go to the party anyway because he has promised to accompany Justin. But also because of his diplomatic abilities everything seems to be again all right after the call.When the color game starts it is possible the most difficult test for their relationship since it beginning because of Amy getting Blue and Adam getting Orange (Þ 2. Description of the Color Game) Therefore they can next to nothing meet each other for about two weeks because of the rules of the game. So she can have a little time with Adam at his home after she has tutored his sister. Then their relationship gets finally into crisis when Bettina played a trick on her brother and her. Therefore she asks Juan instead of him for putting up the "All Colors Unite" posters so that the situation is near to escalate. But their relationship improves when Amy is demoted an Orange. Now they can prepare the rebellion against the color game together and at the end of the story also Amy’s parents want to meet Adam so he is invited for dinner. (Þ Chapter 14) But there relationship gets also some mature. So while playing the color game Amy recognizes the sexist behavior of Adam. Because of this she is no more trying to adapt him - as she has usually done when meeting boys. And also Adam finally recognizes this fact and is going to change his behavior for not jeopardizing their relationship this way.

4.2 Subplot: Hideo and Sue

The subplot Hideo and Sue shows mainly that such a relationship like this of Amy and Adam can exist for a long period. So it might be an outlook of their future life. Moreover it demonstrates that "whites" are not naturally prejudiced. Moreover it illustrates how old- fashioned the idea is that women should do housework and man should go to work. Instead of this Sue and Hideo see each other equal. So both are go to work and shares the housework between each other. Hideo usually makes those things you need more physical strength for and Sue does the remaining work. It is in fact a very idealistic view of people, always being unprejudiced against others in trying to understand and help them. Moreover they always try to make the best out of everything, e.g. out of their home a small but now clean and tidy flat.

5. Assessment of the Color Game

In my opinion the color game is a good way of teaching people how unfair it really is to be judged by color, wealth or gender. Moreover it shows students belonging to a low class - that which usually become Dark Green or Blue - why how it feels to be upper-class and why upper-class people normally do not care for inferior classes. For a few weeks you becomes another person with another status and learns what it means to live so if you then regain you origin status you can see everything from two perspectives so that upper-class people might stop to discriminate lower-classes and the other way round lower classes does better understand the behavior of upper-class persons. Moreover - especially because the game works with colors - you might remember how it felt to be judged by it and will stop to do so with other people.Moreover I do not believe that you can really be emotionally damaged by the game. So upper colors are of course threatened well so that in my humble opinion there is no reason of being emotionally damaged this way. But also when you get a low color you have only to bear things for about four weeks black or Puerto Rican people did for decades. Moreover the teacher gets to know about the emotional situation of the person through his/her journal. So if someone is really depressed to much he can be promoted every time. Moreover in the appendix of the book it is written about only one student who has blamed to have being emotional damaged by the game. But this person has only played the game for one day so that this cannot be a real proof. In my opinion playing the color game might be uncomfortable - also for me - but for being emotionally damaged the probability is very small.

6. Book Review

I enjoyed reading the book very much. First of all because it was not written in my mother tongue and so I get the chance to see how good I can cope with the English language also when it was much easier to understand than e.g. a book of one the big classical authors such as Shakespeare or Huxley. Then story was very interesting and authentic because of being based on something we all good know: school. And it is furthermore based on the real existing color game developed by Ray Otero who "personally" explains it in the story. This game - everything is constructed around - comprises so many aspects of the American class system and shows how miserable your life could be just because of your skin color. So by reading the book you get a - when sometimes even exaggerated - outlook on living in the USA what was also very interesting for me. But the book or the color game it deals with does not only show how unfair the American class system could be it shows that something can be changed and orders the reader to drop groundless prejudices. And that all packed in an exciting story of relationship between a Japanese girl and a upper-class WASP called Amy and Adam made it fun to read the book and made it easy to get part of the story. Also when I prefer reading good science fiction novels stories (when I read for my own) it was also exciting to read this one.


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Title: Miklowitz, Gloria D. - The War Between the Classes