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Snow Falliing On Cedars Essay, Research Paper

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. He presented many diverse viewpoints of this period of time and explained why they thought the way they did. For example, Kabuo Miyamoto, the defendant, had fought with the US army in WWII. Kabuo was deeply affected by his experience in the war, and it changed his perspective of the world. On the other hand, Carl Heine’s mother, Etta, is extremely prejudiced against the Japanese, She feels that all of the “dirty Japs” as she calls them, are lazy and untrustworthy. She judges all Japanese people by their race. The author also represents the American friends of the Japanese. Etta’s husband was friends with Kabuo’s father, and when the family was sent to an internment camp, he offered to take care of their land. However, when he died, Etta sold the land to someone else. By including all these different viewpoints of that period of time, the reader is given a more complete picture.

Another reason I enjoyed this book was because the characters were flawed, making them more realistic. For instance, the reporter, Ishmael, had a few character flaws. He had fought in the war and had his arm amputated. He had also been in love with Hatsue before she married Kabuo. Therefore, when he found evidence that could exonerate Kabuo, he waited until the very last moment to show it to the judge because he was debating whether or not he should use it. Another flawed character was Kabuo himself. His experiences in the war had made him emotionally distant. When he was in the courtroom, he showed no emotion, even though he could have hanged. He thought that his death would be atonement for the people he killed in the war. The last flawed character is the coroner. He is portrayed as a nice, normal guy. However, after he finishes his autopsy on the victim, he tells the sheriff to look for a “right-handed Jap.” The author showed that even the nicest people can have prejudices against other people. By having his characters be flawed, it made them and the book more fun.

Snow Falling on Cedars proved to be an excellent book. It presented many different viewpoints of WWII and its effect on Japanese-Americans. The book was unbiased and allowed you to form your own opinions, which made it more educational. Also, the characters in the book were flawed. They seemed more real and helped the story come alive. This was a great book, and it is an important piece of literature.

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