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GCSE: David Guterson

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  1. 'The death of a fisherman in an Island community can test present passions and unearth old prejudices

    Generated by the events of World War II, the 'Japs'3 are treated with suspicion and scorn. The jurors misinterpret Kabuo's cold and impassive face as a sign of betrayal and defiance, while to Kabuo it expresses guilt for World War II 'murders'4. Ishmael learns to hate Hatsue after his war experience, because 'she had the face of America's enemy and would always have such a face'5. However, the Japanese are not merely victims and out of a sense of superiority, they choose to maintain their detachment from American society.

    • Word count: 1088
  2. How does Guterson Present the War and its Effects on the People and the Community in Snow Falling on Cedars?

    The use of flashbacks into the past by Guterson has also given the reader an insight to the appearance of characters before the war, compared to after the war. This also helps to show how the war has affected individuals. When Hatsue was younger she wore her hair in different styles, both 'tightly knotted' in Japanese style or loose which could possibly symbolise Americanism and therefore the different styles being her choice between the two cultures. After the war, and marrying Kabuo she frequently wears it tied up, and when its down the only person who notices is Ishmael, which may be because he liked to dream of him and Hatsue being together.

    • Word count: 1040
  3. Choose characters and examine how they have been presented in the novel thus far - 'Snow Falling On Cedars'.

    At the centre of the novel is Ishmael Chambers, haunted by the trauma of his past. Guterson reveals that the local newspaperman once had a relationship with Hatsue. We learn that these two kept their love for each other secret in light of prevailing sentiments by other parents and there is a strong suggestion that both families do not approve of the interracial romance. The abundant use of flashbacks is evident in Guterson's portrayal of Ishmael. Much is learned about Ishmael's character not only through his thoughts and decisions throughout the court hearing, but also vivid memories of his childhood.

    • Word count: 1260
  4. On its simplest level, "Snow Falling on Cedars" is a murder mystery with all the intrigue and drama of a courtroom thriller.

    As the murder trial unfolds we learn of a possible motive Kazuo may have had. Before the war years, Kazuo's father made an agreement with the victim's father. Money changed hands, land was promised and terms were set. Unfortunately, the war came and the Japanese Americans were sent away. This agreement was not honoured as nothing was the same at wars' end and the movie addresses this aspect. "Snow Falling on Cedars" addresses one of the darkest aspects of the 20th Century when the Americans were bombed by the Japanese at Pearl Harbour.

    • Word count: 1187
  5. In David Guterson's novel, "Snow Falling on Cedars" the author seeks to raise the reader's level of awareness regarding the ever-present theme of prejudice.

    The author uses several techniques to expound the theme of prejudice, including that of dialogue. He causes the reader to realise the irony of the racial prejudice on the small island of San Piedro through the character Mrs Heine, mother to the deceased man. During a conversation with her husband she comments: "We're not such paupers as to sell to Japs are we?" thus showing a deep-rooted disregard for the Japanese-American race, because of the simple fact they are of a foreign descent. This statement is especially ironic in the light of the fact that the Heine family themselves are immigrants to America, their ancestors being of German descent.

    • Word count: 1219
  6. How does Guterson present distrust of the Japanese in the novel Snow falling on Cedars?

    Guterson uses Kabuo's trial as an extension of the white community of San Piedro's distrust towards their Asian neighbours. From the outset, it is clear Kabuo's trial in unfounded and Guterson involves the reader in the subjective viewpoint of the island. He only refers to Kabuo as 'the accused' for the first part of the novel and concentrates on the prosecution, inviting the reader to make a biased judgement regarding Kabuo's innocence. As the novel progresses we learn that Kabuo's arrest stems from prejudice and not fact.

    • Word count: 949
  7. How Does Guterson Present Ishmael.

    His more natural domain was in a high-backed booth near the read or Day's Restaurant on University Way where he sipped coffee and read his history." I believe that one of the reasons why he feels so isolated is because of his experiences at war; none of the other islanders can relate to how he is feeling or what he has been through. After the war Ishmael changed and he is aware of this although he can not prevent it from happening, "His cynicism - a veterans cynicism - was a thing that disturbed him all the time".

    • Word count: 1756
  8. How does nature shape this novel?

    They narrow their eyes, and try to forget the rest of the world exists. In this way, I think the snow represents the Islands view of the Japanese, and the blanket of snow cannot be lifted to discover the truth, which lies underneath. Snow can also unite the characters of the novel. This happens when Ishmael and Hatsue meet together during Chapter 22, due to Hatsue's car breaking down in the snow. This forces Ishmael to spend time with Hatsue and remind himself of his love for Hatsue and how he 'taught himself to forget it as best he could'.

    • Word count: 1045
  9. How does the writer use weather and environment in the novel?

    But the reality is that tension is exactly what exists between the two races that inhabit the island. Both white and Japanese races have everything they need to sustain their own culture and way of life on the island, but each race is isolated and even seeks isolation from the other, just as the island is isolated from the mainland because of the surround waters. Guterson uses particularly bleak descriptions of the island to make it seem a remote place, though it does have a certain beauty in some descriptions. The young Ishmael and Hatsue end up in the cedar tree for the first time because a rainstorm drives them there.

    • Word count: 1080
  10. Snow Falling on Cedars is often characterised as "a novel of place." What are the significant places in the text? What occurs in each?

    The village is home to both white American residents and Japanese ones. It is this that is the main point of conflict during the novel and Guterson uses racism to stack the odds against Kabuo. Many of the residents of San Piedro do not like the Japanese and look to Kabuo as a scapegoat for Carl Heine's murder. The snow that covers the town of Amity Harbour lasts throughout the courtroom trial and signifies the racism of the residents and how there is no hope for Kabuo because of this racism.

    • Word count: 1065
  11. Both Scott Hicks's film Snow Falling on Cedars and Peter Hoeg's novel Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow create images of natural beauty and purity and also of power and destruction with the same motif: snow.

    She is left alone on a pure-white glacier, in the freshly fallen snow. The natural order has returned, inviting her to a new beginning. Ishmael's journey also concludes with falling snow, he walks away as the snow falls gently around him, the storm has been confronted and he survives, he walks away a free man. Hoeg begins his novel with explicitly detailed descriptions of Smilla's surroundings. The language effectively captures the play of light off the snow, the freshness in the air, the coldness of death is observed ironically with the funeral for the boy, "who will never again feel the cold."1 This description then leads into Smilla's reading of Euclid's Elements which

    • Word count: 2083
  12. Examine Guterson's Presentation Of Character & Setting In Chapters 1-7 Of 'Snow Falling On Cedars.' What Themes Seem To Be Emerging?

    Rather than just appear a run of the mill fishing village it appears to have an additional quality. Guterson is hinting at the idea that Amity Harbour abides by its own rules. Guterson is keen to instantly establish two very important points about San Piedro. The fact that there is a 'single traffic light' emphasises the point that it is a small village and he also emphasises the idea that the town is very close-knit in which everyone knows of everybody else. He establishes this later point through the way he names the businesses by stating who runs each one.

    • Word count: 1858
  13. Ishmael Chambers's intellectual transformation in Snow Falling on Cedars

    He helped out his father once in a while with the newspaper. In addition he has an intense relationship with Hatsue Imada, a Japanese American born in San Piedro. They both go to the same school and have deep, passionate feelings about San Piedro and particularly the cedar tree where they meet each other often. In fact, Ishmael was obsessed with Hatsue due his constant spying on her while she was working at home or on the field. Consequently, Ishmael realizes how much Hatsue means to him and eventually falls in love with her.

    • Word count: 697
  14. Ishmael Chambers :Silent Power

    The Literary Review exclaims, " As much a clever thriller as a poetic evocation of a small community.. a novel of both brilliant surface and fascinating depth." Ishmaels character will be analysed in this chapter. Guterson's captivating who-dunnit novel explores the private history of Ishmael and Hatsue's relationship during unchosen events of cultural and racial events. Guterson has created Ishmael as an isolated young man who's struggling to let go of his haunting past with a beautiful Japanese woman named Hatsue and is stuck on the realisation that she has moved on with her life after the events of Pearl Harbour and shares her heart with Kabuo; a man who has been accused of murdering a local fisherman.

    • Word count: 1246

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