The camp at Poston feels final to Sumiko because she feels as if they’ll be there forever. That they’re never going to leave. She accepts this early on in the story, a few weeks after they move there. She learns to love the life she has been forced to live. She makes friends, she starts a garden, she resigns herself to living her life in Poston. That’s why it’s so hard for Sumiko to leave. She feels safe there. She’s not going to get turned away from a party because she’s Japanese. She has friends, people like her, people who don’t care that she’s Japanese, only that she’s Sumiko. She meets Frank, who is one of the first real friends she’s ever had. She cares about him and he cares about her. Sumiko is free in those camps. She doesn’t have to worry about hiding her Japanese heritage. She doesn’t have to worry about being attacked and ridiculed because she’s Japanese. Poston is where she belongs.
However, she realizes at the end that she has to leave. She can’t stay in the camp forever. Just like her Jiichan, she needs to leave the camp so she can have a good life, so her kids and grand-kids and great-grand-kids can have a good life. She’s giving up her freedom to guarantee the freedom of her future children.
Sumiko hesitated in front of the looming bus doors. She looked down the length of the bus, the windows making it look like a prison. Why should she leave? Why should she give up the freedom she has at Poston?
“Sumiko, hurry up,” her aunt called. Sumiko took a step back, her head shaking before she even said the words:
“I’m not leaving.” Sumiko turned and ran, her aunt calling after her. Sumiko ran, her eyes full of tears. She tripped, almost colliding with a bike.
“Sumiko, are you okay?” Sumiko looked up at Frank, her tears springing forward anew. She leaped up, wrapping her arms around the familiar boy.
“I don’t want to leave. I want to stay here,” Sumiko sobbed, clinging to Frank desperately. Arms wrapped around Sumiko, blocking her view of the outside world.
“Shhh, don’t cry, it’s okay,” Frank murmured, comforting the distressed Sumiko. “Hey, Weedflower, we’ve gotta go.” Sumiko sniffled and looked up at Frank. He looked afraid.
“What do you mean?” Sumiko followed his eyes to see a dark cloud approaching them rapidly.
“There’s a dust storm coming.”
“Sumiko!” Mr. Moto yelled, the wind whipping his voice away. “Come inside, you can’t stay out there!” Frank grabbed Sumiko’s hand and pulled her into Mr. Moto’s house. The door slammed shut just as the storm reached them. Frank wrapped himself around Sumiko, protecting her from the stray dust entering the barrack.
“Don’t worry Weedflower, I’ll protect you.”