How does Guterson present distrust of the Japanese in the novel Snow falling on Cedars?

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How does Guterson present distrust of the Japanese in the novel?

Snow falling on Cedars is a novel that centres around the anti-Japanese sentiments felt by Americans. Guterson’s portrayal of island life for the Japanese population living on San Piedro evokes pathos in the reader for their plight and the prejudice directed towards them by the Americans.

We understand that the distrust of the Japanese on the island is deep-rooted. The mass immigration of Japanese people between 1901 and 1907 caused widespread resentment from Americans. Then, the events of Pearl Harbour during World War II, caused hostility to develop to hatred, rooted in fear. We see examples of the strength of anti-Japanese feeling throughout the novel. When Arthur, Ishmael’s father, runs a pro-Japanese article in his paper, he receives a series of abusive phone-calla:

        ‘ “Jap lovers get their balls cut off,” a shrill tenor voice explained.’

The main plotline of the novel centres around the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto, accused o murdering a respectable American Islander, Carl Heine. 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.

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        As the novel progresses we learn that Kabuo’s arrest stems from prejudice and not fact. The islanders appear willing to convict a potentially innocent man. Horace Whaley originally suggests that Art Moran “look for a Jap with a bloody gun butt”, based on Carl’s head injuries. Ishmael’s mother later admits, “They arrested him because he’s Japanese”. Although Guterson originally invites the reader to doubt Kabuo’s innocence through the overwhelming evidence put against him by Alvin Hooks, when his innocence is proven it is clear his trial is founded in fear and distrust.

        The Americans clearly fear the Japanese ...

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