Critical Response to David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars

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Critical Response to David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson's novel Snow Falling on Cedars undoubtedly holds high acclaim in its reputable attempt to show the prejudice between the Americans and Japanese after World War II and more importantly the prejudice that is unavoidably apart of human nature. The author of the criticism recognizes and brings to light the things done by Guterson throughout the novel. He refers to the animosity between people brought about by differences, the unwillingness to accept change, and also states that things end in a moral and justified manner.

The author refers to “old passions, prejudices, and grudges” surfacing throughout the novel taking place off the Washington coast. In referring to “old passions” the although beings up a valid point of the passion that exists between Ishmael and Hatsue, although it is not necessarily “old” as Ishmael is still vibrantly in love with Hatsue throughout the novel up until the very end. Their so called passion begins in the cedar tree where they spend their childhood escaping from the prejudices of society, but form a passionate connection that cannot be broken. Referring to the “prejudices and grudges” the author is most evidently talking about the resentment between the Heine and Miyamato families regarding the purchase of Ole Jugersons land. The grudge aroused because the land rightfully belongs to the Miyamatos as they had it land leased but when the Japanese were sent to internment camps after the bombing of Pearl Harbor there became confusion. Out of this confusion the land ended up in the hands of Carle Heine. If the land dispute would have been between two similarly colored people it would not have been as significant. Being between the Japanese and American protagonists it becomes an issue of prejudice rather than ownership as Karl, the ideal white male, keeps land from the hard-working Japanese who fought for a countries freedom in which he is not even viewed as equal. The simplistic idea of land ownership boils down to a much more complicated issue of the impurities of American democracy.

The author also refers to Gutersons courtroom, where the entire novel takes place, as being “cleverly constructed.” In doing so he alludes to the imagery portrayed through the novel by Guterson, which gives life to the seemingly standard courtroom making it a clear repr...

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...as a possible motive, points to Kabuo as the murderer. Meanwhile, Hatsue Miyamoto, Kabuo's wife, is the undying passion of Ishmael Chambers, the publisher and editor of the town newspaper. Ishmael, who returned from the war minus an arm, can't shake his obsession for Hatsue any more than he can ignore the ghost pains in his nonexistent arm. As a thick snowstorm whirls outside the courtroom, the story is unburied. The same incidents are recounted a number of times, with each telling revealing new facts. In the end, justice and morality are proven to be intimately woven with beauty--the kind of awe and wonder that children feel for the world. But Guterson communicates these truths through detail, not philosophical argument: Readers will come away with a surprising store of knowledge regarding gill-netting boats and other specifics of life in the Pacific Northwest. Packed with lovely moments and as compact as haiku--at the same time, a page-turner full of twists.

Works Cited

Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars. New York: Vintage Books, 1994. 75-428.

"Snow Falling on Cedars." Kirkus Reviews. 24 Mar. 2005 < .

Snow Falling on Cedars. Sparknotes. 24 Mar. 2005 .

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