With Alain Badiou’s views on event as the major theoretical framework, this study of Joy Kogawa’s Obasan is focused on Naomi Nakane’s reactions to her encounters with her mother. The mother’s undecidable existence, the appearance of motherly love in Naomi’s dreams, and Naomi’s subsequent inquiries constitute the event that transforms Naomi from an abandoned daughter who sees no hope for herself and for the Japanese Canadians into one that sees hope of salvation for all of them.
Between Aunt Emily, who tries to present the undistorted facts about the Japanese Canadians, and Obasan, who takes no action against racial persecution and accepts her life of invisibility, Naomi finds no hope at first. Through the unpredictable encounters with her mother’s volatile presence in her dreams, Naomi affirms her mother’s existence and inquires about that existence. Along with the dissolution of her belief in representation as a reliable means to present reality, Naomi sees that love that goes beyond representation should serve as the foundation for the use of representation. By having Naomi constitute herself as a subject in relation to the event and declare her new understandings so that the other people can know of her experience, Kogawa works for the realization in the future of a world in which people will all be subjects due to their fidelity to the event, and in which racial persecution cannot occur.
KEY WORDS: event, fidelity, the undead, representation, love