The Pursuit of Truth in Snow Falling on Cedars and Trifles
postitas: markrangel - 10.04.2020, , loetud: 331x
This essay aims to discuss and evaluate how the truth is pursued, and how guilt or innocence is established. In this paper, David Guterson’s novel Snow Falling on Cedars is compared with Susan Glaspell’s book Trifles regarding the pursuit of truth. The essay analyzes why truth is hidden, how people’s relationships influence the flow of the story, and how this concealment can either destroy a person’s life or justify a defendant. You may also would like reading similar topic https://best-writing-service.net/literary-analysis-essay-prompts.html . Guterson’s novel Snow Falling on Cedars and Glaspell’s Trifles are not only the detective stories. The authors focus mostly on psychology, emotions, and relationships between people. The intrigue here is not who killed and how. Both stories are about lie and truth, guilt and innocence. They are the books about the life of ordinary people.
Snow Falling on Cedars tells the readers the story about the life in the harsh conditions, about how difficult it was to recover from the war, especially for those who had an American passport, but the Japanese nationality. Though they fought on the American side, their background did not justify it. This book is about the internment. It explains why Japanese was suspected for the murder of an American. Almost from the first pages, the readers can learn about the trial, murder, and then they are engaged in the process of searching for clues and evidence. This book is about the choice, honor, integrity, about the alienation of cultures, behavioral differences between Americans and Japanese, but first of all, it is about the complicated relationships between people. The fictional island of San Piedro is covered with snow and is simultaneously real and utopian, past and present. It is a place where two incompatible worlds of Americans and Japanese are connected.
The trial of Kabuo Miyamoto is the principal story line. While reading the novel, the readers may be interested in how the juries can justify or accuse the defendant, how they can come to a resolution that he is guilty or innocent. As the judge in Snow Falling on Cedars noted, to prove the guilt of the defendant, people have to demonstrate that he has planned what he is accused of; in other words, that he has committed the murder with premeditation. In cases where the evidence is not conclusive, the motive is unknown, the jurors often look at the character of the accused and at the environment in which he lived to help piece together what happened. Courtroom novels often use testimony as a technique to tell the story. In Snow Falling on Cedars, evidence drives the plot. The witnesses tell the readers about the circumstances of Carl Heine’s death; they highlight the relationships of different people on the island and the whole community. Guterson does not speak about the events directly, so the readers learn about the relationships and the reason for the accusation of Kabuo Miyamoto from the islanders’ evidence. The author weaves together all the evidence and creates a controversial portrait of the relations on San Piedro Island.
Both David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars and Susan Glaspell’s Trifles are murder mysteries with the focuses on people’s relationships. In Snow Falling on Cedars, the trial is central; however, in Susan Glaspell’s Trifles, the pursuit of truth is not searched in a legal manner. Such themes as guilt and innocence, the choice between honesty and injustice, responsibility and prejudice are highlighted in the novels. In both stories, people, who are searching the truth, are facing the difficult choice as the fate of the convicted depends on their actions. The theme of choices is a difficult one as such decisions can easily influence others’ lives. However, in the first case, the truth can rescue the accused; in the second one, the reveal of the truth about found evidence and motive of murder can lead a person to prison. In Snow Falling on Cedars, Ishmael Chambers needs to find his courage and maleness to tell the truth about Kabuo’s innocence. The mixed feelings are fighting inside him: the call of duty to tell the truth and thus, justify a man and hidden feelings of hate and jealousy. He must decide whether to change the course of the trial or not, whether to share the evidence from the lighthouse and justify Kabuo or hide the truth that will result in imprisonment.
In Trifles, the women, who unofficially investigate the motive of John Wright’s murder, decide to hide the evidence of the crime, the killed canary, thereby helping the accused Minnie, John’s wife. They hide the evidence from their husbands as the men will use it against Minnie. Their decision to cover up the proof of murder is clear and unanimous. Here, the value of honesty, justice, and duty to the investigation is neglected for the sake of female solidarity. They definitely understand that the true reason for John Wright’s murder by his wife is Minnie’s long suffering. However, their husbands, George Henderson and sheriff Henry Peters, feel their debt and duty to the law.
Snow Falling on Cedars not only shows the trial and the difficulty of choice but is also considered as a reflection of prejudice, and what influence it has on justice. The figure of Kabuo Miyamoto is covered with prejudices and stereotypes. The racial discrimination is clearly seen in the pages of the novel. In the first half of the 20th century, Japanese diaspora in the United States was subjected to severe discrimination. The first generation of the Japanese immigrants could not get the US citizenship, were not allowed to own land, although many of them were farmers, and came to the United States on the basis of Japanese free immigration. Japanese and subhuman became synonymous in the United States. The unenviable position of the Japanese diaspora in the Pacific coast deteriorated significantly during the Second World War after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. Japanese residents, both first-generation immigrants and their children born in the United States and with even American citizenship, were interned in special camps, where they lived in barracks behind the barbed wire. That is why, to find a scapegoat for the death of the American man was an easy task, because the Pacific coast was settled by Japanese. The indigenous people attacked the defenseless Japanese Kabuo Miyamoto, whose return from the front coincided with the tragic death of the local fishermen. A long-standing dispute about a piece of land, hated “friendship,” and the difficult choice between selfishness of the lost love and family traditions are on the agenda.
Prejudice can be seen in Trifles as well. While David Guterson shows racism as the prejudice regarding Japanese in his novel, Susan Glaspell demonstrates sexism. Men want to show their priority over women; they consider that they are right and logical. The women justify Minnie, the killer, thus defending women’s rights to a full and normal life without oppression and humiliation by men. They oppose the society controlled by men.
In conclusion, David Guterson’s novel Snow Falling on Cedars is not only the story of the trial but also a mental journey into the past, which explains the difficult relationships between two races that are historically forced to live together in a confined space. Guterson uses the trial as a narrative frame. It lasts only three days; however, the essential information, which is somehow connected with the trial, happened much earlier. The complicated relations between men and women are also evident in Susan Glaspell’s trial. Both books are not only detectives but also can be considered as psychological novels. Completely different views on duty to the law are highlighted in the novels. The readers are engaged in the world of prejudice, guilt and innocence, search and hide of the truth, and, of course, a choice between the sense of duty and personal feelings.