To counteract the meagre critical attention paid to the subject of disability in John Okada’s No-No Boy, this article first explores how the dis/abled characters’ bodies and minds are besieged by ableist ideologies and how the book’s ableist body politic sacrifices racial affinities between first-generation Issei and second-generation Nisei. While the protagonist’s journey of redemption or rehabilitation climaxes in a tragic yet hopeful ending, this hope resides in ableist prerequisites and is located in two points in time—either a reconstructed, idealized past or an anticipated, promising future. No-No Boy ultimately ends up submitting to rather than challenging structural ablenationalism since Okada insists on the ableist myth of wholeness and does not recognize that we are always already disabled. As an alternative, this article views disability as necessary and internal to both the self and Other. Disability is constitutive of the subject in the radical sense that the subject does not pre-exist its disability but emerges through it. When we reorient ourselves to the ontological truth that disability is an internal and pre-existent division, we decrease the narcissistic investment in the ideal image of self and create the possibility of the subject’s disinvestment from ableist culture.


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pp. 25-50
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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