Snow Falling on Cedars | Study Guide

David Guterson

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Snow Falling on Cedars | Chapter 25 | Summary



Hatsue Miyamoto is the first defense witness. She wants to go to Kabuo Miyamoto but stops herself and goes directly to the witness stand. The audience is struck by her calm demeanor, which reminds one of them of the geisha seen in Japan after the war. But inside, Hatsue is not calm; she worries because Kabuo is a stranger to her in some ways. She knows he is psychologically scarred from the war and obsessed with regaining his family's farm. He even snuck onto the old property late one night to retrieve family heirlooms his father had hidden. Hatsue encourages Kabuo to let go of the obsession and move forward, but he won't.

Hatsue testifies Kabuo seemed hopeful about regaining the farm. He believed Carl Heine, unlike Etta Heine, would be sympathetic and allow him to buy his land. She also reports that on the morning Carl's body was found, Kabuo came home and told her he had helped Carl with a dead battery at sea. While he was helping, Kabuo said, Carl agreed to sell him the farm. They heard about Carl's death, though, and decided to stay quiet.


Hatsue Miyamoto cares deeply about Kabuo Miyamoto. David Guterson writes: "For her this meant loving him in a manner she hadn't anticipated." She devotes herself to him and to their children. She commits to him in a way she never committed to Ishmael Chambers. Was she just too young when she and Ishmael were together? Is it because Kabuo was also Japanese?

In contrast, Kabuo's true love seems to be his family's lost land. He tells her the story like a lesson passed down through generations. Etta Heine's betrayal and the loss of their land becomes a family legend, like Kabuo's great-grandfather, the mad samurai. Kabuo rescues family heirlooms that are mostly martial arts–related: the bokken (the wooden practice sword); hakama pants (the wide-legged pants worn in many martial arts disciplines); a naginata (a sword on a stick). Although his family had possessed a valuable heirloom sword, it is not mentioned. Was it stolen, too, like their property and their dignity had been taken during the war? Kabuo steals two strawberry plants from the farm and displays them to Hatsue as if she had never seen a strawberry plant before. He is proud because he wants to build a strawberry farm like his father before him.

Honor and justice are supremely important to Kabuo. His family's land was unjustly taken from him. Kabuo feels certain Carl will do the just and honorable thing and sell him the seven acres promised to his family. He views it as Carl atoning for his mother's wrongs and thinks it would be "dishonorable ... to approach Carl once again with the same tired question." The reader now knows Kabuo is innocent, but it's easy to understand why Hatsue might secretly wonder about her husband's innocence.

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