Snow Falling on Cedars | Study Guide

David Guterson

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Snow Falling on Cedars | Chapter 28 | Summary



The prosecutor works hard to make Kabuo Miyamoto look guilty. He dismisses Kabuo's explanation for not going to the police and questions why Kabuo's boat had two batteries when the sheriff examined it. Kabuo belatedly remembers he'd brought an extra battery from home. The prosecutor's comments become offensive, and the judge stops him. People in the courtroom gallery watching the trial notice that Kabuo looks like a photograph of Japanese soldiers from the war: "He was, they decided, not like them at all."


The reader no longer needs to wonder about Kabuo Miyamoto's guilt, but now David Guterson raises questions about society. Will society convict Kabuo because he is different? As Kabuo's testimony ends, those in the courtroom view him as detached, calm, and dignified: "There was nothing akin to softness in him anywhere." Kabuo's bearing represents his culture and his training in kendo; this is how he was taught to bear difficulties. Islanders see this difference in demeanor as a threat.

Ishmael Chambers is under increasing pressure because the trial is wrapping up without his important evidence. What if he doesn't produce it and Kabuo is convicted? Is this what Ishmael really thinks is right? This is the pivotal moment of crisis in the novel—which all the backstory and flashbacks have led up to—and it is Ishmael, wrestling with his feelings for Hatsue Miyamoto, who will decide the immediate fate of Kabuo, Hatsue, and the Miyamoto family. He may not be fully aware of this, but the decision he makes will help decide much of his future as well.

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