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.

Authors Avatar

Alan Campbell 3Q/4Q

Snow Falling on Cedars

By David Guterson

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.

Guterson uses a wide variety of creative writing styles and techniques in order to illustrate the appalling bias against those of differing races.

The author has chosen not to write of the events in chronological order, using flashbacks to bring to life examples of how the seed of racism was previously, in some instances unconsciously, implanted in the hearts and minds of the characters brought to life by this novel.

Together with the employment of realistic characters and an oftentimes emotionally charged plot, David Guterson use of multiple writing techniques combine to carry the reader along a journey, with the goal of highlighting not only the bigotry and prejudice endemic in the book's characters, but also raising the awareness of the reader to the real possibility that they too are hosts to such thoughts.

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. This informs the reader that the prejudice is unfounded, having its rooted in neither logic nor rationale, rather generated simply by human nature and a natural distrust and fear of those perceived  'different'.

Join now!

The author uses Mrs Heine’s comments to also prove that racial tension was evident prior to the events of World War 2. During late 1942, the Japanese air-fore launched a surprise attack upon Pearl Harbor, a huge American naval base, causing an explosion of anger and hatred towards the Japanese to boil up within the American people. The author thus highlights that discrimination against the Japanese was present previous to any justification, forcing the reader to conclude that the racial hatred towards the Japanese post-Pearl Harbor, was founded upon the unjustified prejudice present preceding those horrific events.

Another ...

This is a preview of the whole essay