Snow Falling on Cedars | Study Guide

David Guterson

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Snow Falling on Cedars | Chapter 22 | Summary



With the power out, Judge Lew Fielding calls for a lunch break. Ishmael Chambers heads out to get snow chains on his car, do some shopping for his mother, and take photographs of cars stranded by the storm. He notices one car with its wheel stuck in a ditch: Hatsue Miyamoto and her father are in the car heading home after the trial. Ishmael persuades them to accept a ride home, but Hatsue ignores him for most of the trip. He thinks his anger toward her is long dead now that she is married and has a life very separate from his.

Hatsue says the trial is unfair and challenges Ishmael to write a story in his newspaper about it. Ishmael doesn't totally agree with her but feels triumphant Hatsue even interacted with him. Even hostility, he feels, is better than being ignored.


The first part of the chapter focuses on ordinary tasks caused by the snowstorm. This reminds the reader of the dangers and difficulties of life on a little island and emphasizes that life goes on, even while Kabuo Miyamoto's life is on hold. Most importantly, it forces Ishmael Chambers's and Hatsue's paths to intersect yet again.

Hatsue has some strong feelings for Ishmael, but it is not clear what they are. Ishmael claims he is not angry at her, but he wants to control or provoke her in some way. He knows she has moved on, while he has not; he has waited, numb: "a vague sense of waiting for Hatsue—a fantasy—to return to him," though he knows it won't happen. Ishmael's anger has not ended. He becomes hostile very quickly but is grateful to feel anything more than numbness.

Hatsue has remained calm until now, but she is clearly furious about the trial. She challenges Ishmael to stand up for Kabuo. He is cautious and speaks about broad principles rather than specifics. This doesn't satisfy Hatsue: what matters to her is Kabuo. In spite of this, Ishmael feels vindicated she spoke to him at all. This suggests that there is some hope for friendship down the line, should Kabuo be set free, and, by extension, reconciliation within the community that has been so badly damaged by the legacy of the war and Japanese internment.

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