Essay about Free Will vs. Fate in David Guterson’s novel, Snow Falling on Cedars

Essay about Free Will vs. Fate in David Guterson’s novel, Snow Falling on Cedars

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There are many unpredictable and ungovernable accidents, coincidences, and chances that drive the universe and can ultimately affect the events of a person’s life. One of the main concepts surrounding David Guterson’s novel, Snow Falling on Cedars, is the power of free will vs. fate. The last sentence of the novel: “accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart” explains the lack of control that humans have on the forces surrounding them compared to the control they have over their actions or decisions and the impact that it has. Snow Falling on Cedars looks closely at the effect free will and fate has through the murder trial that occurs post World War II in the story where a Japanese American, Kabuo Miyamoto, is charged with the murder of an American, Carl Heine. As the trial takes place, the story interconnects the characters one of who is Ishmael Chambers, a journalist who may be Kabuo’s only hope but struggles with the decision to do what’s right as he was left burned by Kabuo’s wife and his childhood love, Hatsue. The notion of chance and free will can be seen especially in the character of Ishmael who struggles against the effects of the war and Hatsue leaving him. And as a Japanese American during the war, Hatsue herself displays the power of free will in her self-acceptance and in creating a balance in her life. Apart from the portrayal of free will vs. chance in the development of the characters, certain events in the novel such as the case of Carl Heine’s death and the war itself exhibits similar themes. However, unlike Carl’s death, the war shows that there are instances where circumstance may be the result of human actions. In David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, the events tha...


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...action or an effect that may be out of their control. However, people are fundamentally able to control their actions and are therefore responsible for what they choose to do. Snow Falling on Cedars emphasizes the idea that free will rules over fate which can be understood from the last sentence in the novel: “accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart”. While chance, fate, or accidents happen and interfere with the lives of characters such as Ishmael and Hatsue or somehow create uncontrollable events, there is always the ability for each individual to act against these forces and exert their will to do what is right. People do not feel or act by accident; every decision that is made is based on intention. Therefore, people are responsible for what they choose to do and are ultimately, in control of their own fate.











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