Kabuo Assumed Guilty Because of Japanese Heritage in Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Kabuo Assumed Guilty Because of Japanese Heritage in Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

Length: 1339 words (3.8 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
Kabuo Assumed Guilty Because of Japanese Heritage in Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson


In the novel, Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson, Kabuo Miyamoto is arrested for murder without any substantial evidence. He was charged with a crime he did not commit. He was accused based strictly on his race. Kabuo’s trial was unfair because there was racial conflict with the Japanese following World War II.

The racial conflict with Japanese-Americans began when the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, a military naval base located in the state of Hawaii. “Behind them they left chaos, 2,403 dead, 188 destroyed planes, and a crippled Pacific Fleet that included 8 damaged or destroyed battleships” (“Attack” 1). The next day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared war on the Empire of Japan. The fear that resulted from the attack on Pearl Harbor caused many white Americans to hate the Japanese-Americans. Many Japanese were accused of being spies and were arrested without proof. “Rabid anti-Japanese American racism surfaced the first days after Pearl Harbor. The FBI and the military had been compiling lists of "potentially dangerous" Japanese Americans since 1932, but most were merely teachers, businessmen or journalists” (Thistlethwaite 1). In February of 1942, all of the Japanese on the West Coast of the United States were sent to internment camps.

Japanese Internment Camps were established to keep an eye on everyone of Japanese decent. The internment camps were based on an order from the President to relocate people with Japanese Heritage. This meant relocating 110,000 Japanese people. “Two thirds of these people were born in America and were legal citizens, and of the 10 people found to be spying for the Japanese during World War II, not one was of Japanese ancestry” (Friedler 1). Thus, there was no reason for these internment camps, but people do irrational things when driven by fear. In theinternment camps, many of the Japanese became sick or even died because of lack of nourishment in the food provided at these camps. The conditions in the internment camps were awful. One of the internment camps, Manzanar, was located to the west of Desert Valley in California. “Manzanar barracks measured 120 x 20 feet and were divided into six one-room apartments, ranging in size from 320 to 480 square feet.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Kabuo Assumed Guilty Because of Japanese Heritage in Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Nov 2019
    <https://www.123helpme.com/view.asp?id=30204>.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on The Disordered World of Snow Falling on Cedars

- The Disordered World of Snow Falling on Cedars Snow Falling on Cedars is a text that examines both human nature and the nature of truth. It is presented the closed world of San Peidro Island and the even more closed world of Amity Harbour Courthouse. The beauty of the novel and movie is that they portrait real life and real emotions. Snow Falling on Cedars exists in a disordered world, but this world is no more disordered than real life. The story uses a type of parallel plot structure....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Research Papers
911 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson

- Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson gives readers an idea of what it was like to be Japanese in the 1940’s and 50’s. In our nation at that time, much of the population felt that Japanese and Japanese Americans could not be trusted. Americans did not like the immigrants coming here and taking jobs that were once theirs. Last, of course, the evacuation and containment of the Japanese and even Japanese American citizens made it clear that America did not trust them....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars David Guterson]

Free Essays
1357 words (3.9 pages)

David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars Essay examples

- David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars The early 1940’s were tough times for many Japanese living in America. This is all due to the Japanese and American conflict in World War II, after Japan decided to bomb Pearl Harbor. After this incident many Japanese-Americans were discriminated against and were thought of as bad Japanese instead of the Americans they were. A lot of these Japanese-Americans were unfairly sent to internment camps in the United States. This is also true of the incidents that take place in the fictional novel Snow Falling On Cedars, by David Guterson....   [tags: Guterson Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Research Papers
1063 words (3 pages)

Atmosphere through Detailed Language in Snow Falling On Cedars Essay

- Atmosphere through Detailed Language in Snow Falling On Cedars Snow Falling On Cedars, by David Guterson, is an emotional story. The death of a fisherman, Carl Heine, on San Piedro Island, turns into a murder trial for Japanese American, Kabuo Miyamoto. Also an inter-racial childhood romance between Ishmael Chambers and Hatsue Miyamoto shifts back and forth in time and the World War II Japanese Internment story unfolds as part of the romance. David Guterson creates atmosphere in the opening chapters through detailed language....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Free Essays
1396 words (4 pages)

Essay David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars

- David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars The beginning of World War II caused many Americans to spawn a deep hatred against anyone of Japanese decent. Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, fear of the Japanese emerged in hearts all across America. White Americans felt threatened by Japan. The fear of Japan created a fear of its people and this fear created severe prejudice against anyone who looked like the “enemy.” During the war, and for many years after, Japanese Americans were victims of this fear....   [tags: David Guterson Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Research Papers
1245 words (3.6 pages)

Snow Falling on Cedars Essay

- Snow Falling on Cedars The book Snow Falling on Cedars is about a Japanese man Kabuo Miyanmoto who is on trial for murder. He is accused of murdering a white man, Carl Heine. Much of the story is told through the memories of various characters. It is set in the 1050's in Puget Sound on a fictional island called San Piedro. I think Snow Falling on Cedars was an excellent book. I felt that the author was able to present an unbiased view of the internment of Japanese-Americans during WWII....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Free Essays
508 words (1.5 pages)

Essay on The Transformation of Ishmael in Snow Falling on Cedars

- The Transformation of Ishmael in Snow Falling on Cedars What can be said about a novel of such luminance as Snow Falling on Cedars that has not already been said. Certainly it is a work of much vision and insight and speaks volumes about prejudice and race. The wordplay of Guterson creates a world of vivid reality-it surrounds the reader with sights, smells and a clearly defined sense of touch. Perhaps lost amidst the smells of the strawberry fields, the cold of the winter storm, and the deep social statements about the nature and quirkiness of prejudice is the fact that this beautifully crafted story of immense complexity is in reality a very simple story about the identity of one man....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Free Essays
2027 words (5.8 pages)

Snow Falling on Cedars Essay

- Snow Falling on Cedars Everyone has experienced prejudice sometime in their life. It has been an undeniable force in society ever since history was recorded. Even the most open-minded people and enlightened organizations can be blamed as being prejudice sometime or another. However, prejudice always takes its toll from these people who form opinions beforehand or without any facts. The novel, Snow Falling On Cedars, take place during a time in which Americans are prejudice towards Japanese people....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars Japanese Essays]

Research Papers
1127 words (3.2 pages)

Essay on Difficult Choices in David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars

- Difficult Choices in David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars It is mid 1950’s in predominantly white populated San Piedro Island. One of its residents has been murdered and another stands accused of the crime. From the first chapter and through the use of flashbacks, David Guterson makes us aware of the racism that exists in the small, West Coast island of San Piedro. The victim, Carl Heine, is of European descent; the accused man, Kabuo Miyamoto, is of Japanese ancestry. There also is a small community of Japanese residents on San Piedro Island....   [tags: Snow Falling Cedars]

Research Papers
1986 words (5.7 pages)

Essay about David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars

- David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars The years 1940 through 1955 portray a time in America’s history when many Americans harbored a strong fear and distrust for Americans of Japanese descent. A closer look at this dark period for America reveals how the fictional character Kabou Miyamoto, in David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars could easily have been presumed guilty of murder simply because of his Japanese ancestry. Historical documentation can be related to the events in the novel to help explain the mindsets of the characters and to understand why the town suspects Kabou of this crime and then precedes to issue a charge of guilty....   [tags: Japanese History Snow Falling Cedars Essays]

Research Papers
1730 words (4.9 pages)

Related Searches

Each block of 15 barracks shared bath, latrine, and mess buildings” (Thistlethwaite 2). This is a very small living space for a family to have to live in, especially if the family had more than 5 or 6 members. The Japanese were not killed purposely in the internment camps as the Jews were in German concentration camps. Most Japanese men, that were able, joined the armed forces to prove their loyalty to the United States and also to escape from the horrible conditions of the internment camps. The Japanese were released from the internment camps in 1945 only to return to their homes and see everything they had destroyed or stolen.

In 1944, the trial of Korematsu vs. United States was held. This trial was held to decide, “Did the President and Congress go beyond their war powers by implementing exclusion and restricting the rights of Americans of Japanese decent?” (“Korematsu” 1) The court decided that the need to protect against spies far exceeded the rights of Korematsu. Also in 1944, the trial of Ex Parte Endo took place. In this case, the Supreme Court sided with Endo. They approved a petition stating, “A citizen who is concededly loyal presents no problem of espionage or sabotage. When the power to detain is derived from the power to protect the war effort against espionage and sabotage, detention, which has no relationship to that objective, is unauthorized” (“Ex” 1). This meant that anyone who was a citizen and proven to be completely loyal should not be held. This would have been good had it been followed. The Japanese were detained no matter if they had proven themselves to be loyal or not.

In the novel, Kabuo is arrested for the murder of Carl Heine. He is arrested because Horace Whaley, the coroner, tells Sheriff Art Moran “to start looking for a Jap with a bloody gun butt—a right-handed Jap, to be precise” (Guterson 59). There is no other evidence that would even suggest that Kabuo had anything to do with the death of Carl Heine. While Art Moran is searching Carl’s boat, he does not investigate closely enough to see the blood on the mast, the cut ropes on the mast, or the cracked wood with a few pieces of Carl Heine’s hair in it. The Sheriff missing these clues tells me that he did not try hard enough to find Kabuo not guilty. He got a story, and he went with it even though it was not true and was based solely on the prejudiced opinion of the coroner.

Before the trial, Nels Gudmundsson tries to get Kabuo to tell the truth about what happened on the night that the “murder” took place. Kabuo keeps telling him he has no idea what happened. Nels finally says that there is no way to defend Kabuo if he will not tell the truth about what happened. Nels then says, “You figure because you’re from Japanese folks nobody will believe you anyway” (391). Kabuo responds to this by saying, “I’ve got a right to think that way. Or maybe you’ve forgotten that a few years back the government decided it couldn’t trust any of us and shipped us out of here” (391). This shows that Kabuo has not forgotten about the Japanese Internment Camps, and that none of the jurors would have forgotten it either. The Japanese from San Piedro Island, where the story takes place, were shipped to the internment camp Manzanar.
There are also signs of prejudice just by looking at the courtroom. First, all of the Japanese citizens had to sit in the back of the courtroom. “They had done so instead because San Piedro required it of them without calling it a law” (75). This sort of behavior was demeaning to the Japanese folks because they were considered less of people. Second, there are also signs of prejudice in the jurors that were selected. Out of the jury of a person’s “peers,” not a single juror was Japanese, and only one of them did not want to jump right to the conclusion that he was guilty right after the case (428-434).

In Snow Falling on Cedars, the reason Horace Whaley initially fingers a Japanese person was because of his experience in World War II. He had been a doctor in the Pacific Theater of the war and had seen wounds similar to the wound on Carl’s head. He said they came from Kendo strikes with the butt of a gun. Kendo is a form of Japanese fighting with sticks. Kabuo knows Kendo, and the prosecution uses this against him. The discrimination comes in to play because had he not been Japanese, they would not have suspected him of knowing Kendo.

In the novel Snow Falling on Cedars, there is a lot of prejudice shown towards Japanese-Americans. Besides the derogatory name calling, there are examples of prejudice shown through the internment camps, the courthouse where the trial is being held, and the knowledge of martial arts. The reason that this prejudice took place was because of the attack on Pearl Harbor and war that followed it. The Japanese were treated unfairly by being sent to the internment camps, as well as in trials that involved whites.

Works Cited

“Attack At Pearl Harbor, 1941.” 1997. 16 April 2001 http://www.ibiscom.com/pearl.htm

"Ex Parte Endo, 323 U.S. 283 (1944)." lawbooksUSA.com and law-YOU.com. . Lerner Law Books. 16 April 2001. http://lawbooksusa.com/cconlaw/endoexparte.htm

Friedler, Sorelle. “The Japanese Internment.” 16 April 2001 http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Aegean/4282/internment.html

Guterson, David. Snow Falling on Cedars. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.
"Korematsu vs United States." 16 April 2001.
http://www.plhs.esu3.org/hs/student/apspr00/supct2/pages/kore.htm

Thistlethwaite, Chuck . "MANZANAR - America's Concentration Camp." 16 April 2001. http://members.aol.com/EARTHSUN/Manzanar.html?clkd=iwm
Return to 123HelpMe.com