The representation of conflicting perspectives is an integral part of Guterson’s novel, Snow Falling on Cedars through the author’s use of characterisation, symbolism and themes.
Guterson’s employment of characterisation throughout the novel allows him to effectively convey the different perspectives of Eastern and Western cultures. This is mostly achieved by the characters of Hatsue and Ishmael due to their differing views and feelings regarding their relationship. Hatsue holds the Eastern value of putting duty before happiness and accepting your fate, whereas Ishmael possesses the more Western opinion that a person is entitled to happiness.
Hatsue is intelligent and aware of the differences between her Eastern culture and Ishmael’s Western culture. She realises that these cultural differences could never support a lasting relationship and feels deep shame because of their secret romance, which causes her to end it. Her understanding of the differences between the Eastern and Western cultures is conveyed while her husband, Kabuo, is on trial and she advises him on how his expressionless manner, which is due to the stoicism of Eastern culture, probably makes him look guilty to the all-white jury.
Ishmael is more optimistic and somewhat delusional, unable to comprehend the deep cultural divide that keeps Hatsue distant from him. He imagines that their love is sufficient to keep them together and conquer all obstacles because he does not open himself up to learning about the culture of the woman he loves. He expects her to simply choose their love over her family and the beliefs that she has been brought up with. When Hatsue ends their relationship, Ishmael becomes bitter, cynical and resentful. These emotions are heightened further by the changes that have occured during his absence at war. He discovers that Hatsue is married with children and feels that