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Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars

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Introduction

The novel uses nature imagery extensively both descriptively and symbolically. How does nature shape this novel and the themes it explores? Guterson uses many literary techniques in his novel to reflect on his views of the nature of human kind. Through his descriptions of the natural setting of the novel Guterson conveys the significance of San Piedro as a microcosm of the world of human kind, reflecting on the universal thoughts and emotions felt by all of humanity. Particularly, the descriptions of the weather establish parallels between the emotional turmoil of the characters and the state of the natural world. Furthermore, the extensive use of imagery in Snow Falling on Cedars symbolises the character's anguish and consequently reflects on the emotions of humans on a grander scale while contrasts in nature - snow and cedars - exemplify the juxtaposition of ideals and the conflicting nature of human kind. The natural setting of the novel conveys the contention between nature and human kind. Set in 1954 in the depths of winter, the date of the setting is symbolic of the turbulent community. ...read more.

Middle

The "haphazard cedar fences lined the careless roads", are suggestive of the boundaries and limitations constructed by man: boundaries that defy the intentions of nature. The harshness of the setting and weather induces sympathy for the characters who are battered with all life has to offer. Guterson conveys how individuals have no control over the weather and the thoughts/emotions/actions of others. Through the experiences of the characters, he portrays how we can only maintain power over the thoughts and actions of ourselves: "Accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart". The harshness is also reflective of nature's disapproval of human actions towards others, conveying the censure of the social divide established by human nature. In essence, humans are "more similar in their deepest places than they care to admit". Snow is symbolic of this, as the covering of snow masks the differences between race and culture. Everything is perceived to be the same; everything is the same. The changing weather in Snow Falling on Cedars reflects the undulating human emotions of the characters. Within the small community, it is evident that weather affects people - it is essentially a representation of place, of the community. ...read more.

Conclusion

The snow is of great beauty and great danger. At one stage, Ishmael hopes "it would snow recklessly and bring to the island the impossible winter purity, so rare and precious he remembered from his youth." Yet snow causes a physical hindrance to transport and communication. The snow is a backdrop to events on the island and offers continuous cleansing and renewal: "The wind and snow had scoured everything clean." It is important that it is snowing during the trial and Ishmael's reuniting with Hatsue. The snow symbolises the possibility for ablution that the trial could have on the community. It has the potential for them to see the racism that lies underneath the superficial harmony on the island. Guterson uses the purification of snow to mirror this. In Snow Falling on Cedars, Guterson uses natural setting to convey his criticism of the nature of human kind. Through the use of lyrical descriptions, the symbolic representation of weather and effective imagery, Guterson establishes an evocative ambiance that is reflective of his perception of human kind. ?? ?? ?? ?? Jack Clayton 11G 1175 words ...read more.

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