Snow Falling on Cedars | Study Guide

David Guterson

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Snow Falling on Cedars Study Guide." Course Hero. 11 Aug. 2017. Web. 23 Jan. 2019. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, August 11). Snow Falling on Cedars Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved January 23, 2019, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Snow Falling on Cedars Study Guide." August 11, 2017. Accessed January 23, 2019.


Course Hero, "Snow Falling on Cedars Study Guide," August 11, 2017, accessed January 23, 2019,

Snow Falling on Cedars | Chapter 23 | Summary



Ishmael Chambers goes out to the Coast Guard lighthouse to research previous severe storms. He keeps thinking of Hatsue Miyamoto and remembers seeing her after the war. She expressed sorrow for his arm, and he offensively announced the "Japs" did it. Later, he saw her on the beach and they talked. He told her how he had suffered since she broke up with him. Hatsue was sorry for him, but she did not love him.

Ishmael realizes the Coast Guard files might include information related to Kabuo Miyamoto's case. He looks at the files and discovers a very large ship passed near Carl Heine's boat the night of the murder. Carl could have been accidentally killed when his boat was rocked by the big waves caused by the wake of the ship going by. Ishmael learns the man who filed the report is no longer on the island. No one except Ishmael knows about this evidence, which could potentially clear Kabuo: "One person, he himself, knew this truth. That was the heart of it." Ishmael sticks the pages in his pocket and tells no one.


Ishmael Chambers has shown few signs of enthusiasm for his job, yet he slogs out to the Coast Guard station for old storm files. Ishmael's history with Hatsue Miyamoto is influencing him. He wants to ignore the case, and Hatsue, but he can't stop thinking of her.

Ishmael's remembrances include two very awkward postwar encounters with the now-married Hatsue. First, Ishmael insulted her, then tried to talk: "There was nothing he could easily explain to anyone, and nobody who wanted to listen." After the insult, why would Hatsue choose to listen? Yet she did listen when he found her on the beach, even if she couldn't help him.

Hatsue has become a fantasy for Ishmael. His real problem wasn't losing her: it was losing himself. At a young age Ishmael loses Hatsue, goes to war, and loses his arm. The combination sent him into a state of depression and melancholy he has not yet recovered from. He has convinced himself getting Hatsue back will magically fix everything. It won't, of course, as Hatsue realizes.

Now Ishmael has a dilemma. He is the only one who knows about the evidence of the passing large ship, which might help free Kabuo. It is quite a test for Ishmael's character, and so far, it's unclear what he will do.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Snow Falling on Cedars? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!