The Affect of Racism
In a community of “five thousand damp souls” (Guterson 5) as described by David Guterson in his novel, Snow Falling on Cedars. A community that concentrated a variety of ethnicity, among them was both Whites and Japanese. As a result of the racial differences, racism has came into existences and have impacted the life of both children and adult in that isolated island called San Piedro. It is responsible for the internment of Kabuo, Hatsue, and their families, the breakup of Hatsue and Ishmael, Kabuo’s loss of his land, and perhaps for his indictment for murder.
Before the war years, Kabuo’s father, Zenhichi made an illegal agreement with the victim’s father, Carl Heine senior. It was an agreement to an eight-year “lease-to-own” contract. Money changed hands, land was promised and terms were set. Unfortunately, the war came and the Japanese Americans were sent away to internment camp. Nothing was quite the same at wars end. When the Miyamoto has returned to claim their land, they had found out that the victims mother, Etta, cheated them. She sold their seven acres of strawberry land to another farmer, because of lack of the last payment during their removal. This disreputable action she took, was caused by her racist thoughts that she had toward Japanese. This has been demonstrated out in her conversation with her husband, she said, “Were not such paupers as to sell to Japs, are we? For new clothes? For a pouch of fancy pipe tobacco?” (Guterson 119). Because of her being racist, it had cost the land of the Miyamoto and raised tension between the two families and created a motive for Kabuo to commit murder to Ettas son as for revenge and to release his anger.
Snow Falling on Cedars opens up in the middle of Kabuo Miyamotos trail. A trail that deals with a first degree murder case, that Kabuo was being accused of murder of a white fellow fisherman by the name of Carl Heine. In this murder case, racism has played a very important role in affecting the judgement and outcome of the trail. As being Japanese, Kabuo has been placed under a very unpleasant circumstance. The evidences founded had lead the investigator, Sheriff Art Moran to believe that Kabuo was somehow suspicious. Together with the judgement made by the coroner of the wound on the victims head, which was predominantly affected by his racist thought toward Japanese. The coroner had pointed out that the wound is caused by some Japanese martial art, Kendo, merely because a narrow, flat object causes the wound. As because of the coroners inaccurate judgement, it had worsened Kabuo situation in the trail. Now that all the evidences had turned against Kabuo, it has made others to focus mainly on Kabuo, and think that he is behind of all this. Later on, abroad Kabuos ship Art Moran n the mooring rope and fishing gaff with the victims blood on it. With all those evidences it would have proven Kabuo to be the murderer, but new evidences came into existences to overturn the entire situation and twisted the case as of being an accident rather than a first degree murder case. If it wasnt for prejudice this trail would never has gone so far or would never had happened in the first place.
The internment of Kabuo, Hatsue and the rest of their family are mainly because the U.S governments are being racist toward Japanese. They government did not trust the Japanese because they feared that among them were spies, even thou they swore to be loyalty to the U.S. Some of them even stand up to fight for the U.S against their home country to demonstrated their loyalty, because they believed that they are America and no longer consider as Japanese. But the U.S took no consideration on whether they are loyal or not and placed them into internment camp for safety purpose. I believed that its not necessary to have internment camps, it is basically useless and a waste of money and time, because if the Japanese were to have spies, they wouldnt be that stupid to have a Japanese to responsible for such a task. If so, they would have been caught easily. It is better off to bribe an American, so that no one would have suspected it that easily.
Racism has put an end to the relationship of Hatsue and Ishmael. Being born in that period of time was a tragic for those lovers. It was the time when World War II just breakout, tension between the Americans and the Japanese had grown stronger, because of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. U.S had declared war on Japan. The war changed everything, the life of people, the relationship between the White and the Japanese and their perspective toward each other.As because of the differences of Hatsue and Ishmaels racial background, it has created a gap in their relationship. Their parents are strongly disapproval on their son and daughter to date or have interracial marriage. Despite the racial differences and their parents’ disapproval, they still carry on their relationship in behind their parents back. But as time goes, their relationship could no longer be sustained. The exposure of the secret letter that Ishmael wrote to Hatsue had led to the end of their relationship. When Fujiko, Hatsue’s mother discovered the letter, she told herself, “She would put an end to this business.” (Guterson 227).
As a matter of fact, racism has played a big role in the novel. It has affected the life of Hatsue, Ishmael, Kabuo and their families, and it is responsible for the loss of Kabuos seven acres of strawberry land, and made Kabuo being accused of the murder of Carl Heine. If the people were not racist, things would not have happened as the way it has been. The murder trail of Kabuo would have never taken place. Hatsue and Ishmael would have been a happy couple together. As for Kabuo himself, he would have inherited the strawberry field and continue on to be a farmer like his father. But this is how things are in this world. Nothing is perfect. There is always a negative side to everything.