Essay on Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Essay on Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

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Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson


Roger Daniels plainly states that “the racist tradition … has long been a central theme of all American history” (143). In this bold, yet blatantly truthful extract, Daniels describes how Caucasian Americans are quick to embitter because of other ethnicities. In his work, Snow Falling on Cedars, David Guterson brings the harsh realities of prejudice to light. The setting of his work is Washington state in the post-world-war-two era. The victim of western United States injustice was nearly anyone with Japanese ancestry. The novel’s story revolves around Kabuo Miyamoto, a Japanese-American man on trial for the death of a white man, Carl Heine. Historic evidence proves that a fair trial would be exceedingly difficult to create: Kabuo was presumed guilty solely on the fact that he was of the Japanese populace.

In history, the immediate aftermath of Pearl Harbor on the western coast was detrimental to the Japanese people living in the United States in the region. White Americans were fearful of future attacks. Since Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack, Americans everywhere also feared that at any moment another attack was imminent. Time magazine was printing pages of drawings of Japanese and Chinese faces. The purpose of the article was to establish rhetoric in identification of a Japanese person compared to a Chinese person. The caption’s overall message was to focus on their appearance, a gap between toes, and their pronunciation of English (Inada 21). By modern standards, this would be an unacceptable test to determine background. Yet, during the time period in the novel, Americans were desperate to identify any individual that could be an enemy – a...


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...th of the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the consequence of relocation on the Japanese people it affected, and the quality of living in the relocation camps. He used these historic facts to base this prejudice – which has been a theme of the American lifestyle since its birth – and that prejudice caused the innocent Kabuo Miyamoto to be assumed guilty by racial discrimination.

Works Cited

Inada, Lawson Fusau, ed. Only What We Could Carry: The Japanese American Internment Experence. Berkley: Heyday, 2000. 21.

Daniels, Roger. Concentration Camps USA. Hinsdale, Illinois: Dryden Press, 1971. 113, 143.

Davis, Daniel S. Behind Barbed Wire. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1982. 15.

Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Stanley, Jerry. I am an American: A True Story of Japanese Internment. New York: Crown Publishers, 1994. 38-43.

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