Text Analysis- Snow Falling on Cedars Draft
“There are things in this universe that we cannot control, and there then there are things we can... Let fate, coincidence and accident conspire; human beings must act on reason.” Nel Gudmundson (Page 367)
Free will and fate/chance play an integral role in the novel ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’. Every major character in the novel is faced with the struggle between choice and chance. The story explores our human desire to exercise control over our lives, which is explored by contrasting the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto with a series of human coincidences, mistakes and prejudices that highlight the lack of control we actually have.
The novel is based on and revolves around Kabuo Miyamoto’s trial over the death of Carl Heine. Kabuo was placed in situations where he had to decide whether to take action upon a situation or to sit back passively and let fate unfold. Coincidence sees Kabuo happen to be in the same fishing lane as Carl Heine on the night of his death. At first, it seems “just the sort of luck he’d long thought he needed” (Page 400) for Kabuo as it provided the opportunity to talk and agree with Carl that he would buy his piece of family land back. But within a few hours, Carl is found dead and Kabuo is being questioned under suspicion of murder. The author uses the character of Kabuo Miyamoto to great effect to symbolize the struggle between chance and choice. During the trial Kabuo takes a passive approach towards the situation, he surrenders to chance as he sees he’s just a ‘Jap’ in the eyes of the jury. Also his memories of WWII and what he did there (the people he killed) make him feel guilty and think that karma might be why he is accused of Carl’s death.
Past experiences hinder any attempt for Kabuo to change people’s mind during the trial. When Etta Heine’s husband (Carl Heine Senior) passed away, she sold the farm land to Ole Jurgenson. However, Kabuo’s father had made an agreement...