Snow Falling on Cedars - the Poisons of Racism

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Snow Falling on Cedars – The Poisons of Racism
Not all poisons are as obvious: they don't come with warning labels. That is just the case with racism. Snow Falling on Cedars, a novel written by Davis Guterson, discusses the racial prejudices on San Piedro Island during the 1950s. The major conflict of race in the novel Snow Falling on Cedars can be seen through other conflicts among the characters. Racial prejudice can be seen through Kabuo's trail, in the relationship between Hatsue and Ishmael, and through the land tensions between the Miyamoto and the Heine family. Kabuo Miyamoto's trail from start to finish displays the racial conflicts in this novel. The case starts with Kabuo being convicted for the murder of Carl Heine Junior. This happens because the coroner, Horace Whaley, says the wound on Carl's head looks like ones that he had seen inflicted on men by the Japanese in the World War Two. "`Stick fighting," Horace explained. `Japs are trained in it from when they're kids. How to kill with sticks (Guterson 58).'" The assumption that the wound was made by Kabuo just because he is Japanese shows how racially founded the investigation of the murder was. The testimony of Sergeant Victor Maples thickens the racial poison in the trail. Sergeant Maples and Kabuo met in basic training during World War Two. He was humiliated when Kabuo beat him in a fighting match (282-3). From this experience Maples started to gain a prejudice against Japanese and a negative view towards Kabuo. With this view he testified that, "No, it would not surprise ... [me] to hear that Kabuo Miyamoto had killed a man with a fishing gaff. He was highly capable of such a deed (285)." Also in the testimony of Mrs. Heine she constantly refers to the Japanese Americans as "them" and "they (117-142)." This again shows the unfounded racial prejudices and conflicts flowing through Guterson's work. Apart from the trail we can see racial conflicts in the relationship of Ishmael and Hatsue....
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