Snow Falling on Cedars | Study Guide

David Guterson

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Snow Falling on Cedars | Chapter 18 | Summary



Art Moran asks Judge Lew Fielding for a warrant to search Kabuo Miyamoto's boat. He cites five reasons for the search:

  1. Kabuo fished near Carl Heine on the night Carl died.
  2. Etta Heine told Art that Carl and Kabuo were enemies because of the land dispute.
  3. Art spotted a mooring line on Carl's boat, which came from another boat.
  4. Ole Jurgensen told Art that Kabuo was angry Carl had already bought the land.
  5. The coroner stated Carl's head wound looked like a kendo strike.

The judge is reluctant, saying Etta is "hateful" and the evidence is circumstantial. Art points out if they don't move now, Kabuo could destroy evidence that might exist, so the judge authorizes the search warrant.

That night Kabuo arrives at his boat with a new battery to install. A surprising number of seagulls are on the boat and he kills one when it won't fly away. Kabuo is angry when the sheriff wants to search his boat, but he stays calm, insisting he knows nothing of Carl's death. Art notices a new mooring rope on Kabuo's boat, and his deputy, Abel Martinson, finds a gaff with blood on it. Kabuo says it's fish blood and asks to go fishing, but Art arrests him instead. Art hadn't expected to find anything, but now he starts to believe Kabuo murdered Carl.


Art Moran is not trying to fix blame for Carl Heine's death on Kabuo Miyamoto, though Etta Heine clearly is. David Guterson does not seem to want the reader to feel confident in Kabuo's innocence at this point. He has already emphasized the darkness in Kabuo's soul and his history of violence during the war. Kabuo kills the gull out of anger at his situation or out of indifference. Either way, the picture being created about Kabuo does not ease suspicions.

Kabuo's confrontation with Art and Abel Martinson, the deputy, is uncomfortable but realistic. Kabuo is tense and wants to get out fishing to earn more money. Art is just trying to do his job. The narrator is clear: Art didn't expect Kabuo to be guilty. He is not motivated by race, at least not consciously. Art thought Carl drowned accidentally, and in Art's mind "the occasional misfortunes of life were simply part of things." After finding blood on the gaff, though, Art begins to think Kabuo might be guilty. A sheriff's job is to get to the most probable truth, and based on the accumulation of evidence before him, it is imperative that he arrest Kabuo.

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