Comparing Novel and Film Version of Snow Falling on Cedars
It is no easy task to create a work - through writing or film - that has an impact on society. In writing, one must discuss and analyze a relevant topic that will have an impact on the readers. One must also present stunning sensory images through words in order to create a complete understanding for the reader. In filmmaking it is not much different, but there must be striking visual imagery in combination with a fitting musical score in order to give the viewer of the film the full experience. There must also be historical accuracy, both in writing and film. In either case, it can take years to create such a captivating piece of work. David Guterson's novel Snow Falling on Cedars and its cinematic counterpart of the same name combine all of the aspects of good writing and filmmaking to create an emotionally provocative and historically accurate masterpiece.
The story of Snow Falling on Cedars was set on a fictional island called San Piedro, somewhere in the Puget Sound area. The island had a thick history of generations of prejudice disguised by immigrant strawberry farmer life. The island was home to descendents of German, Swedish, English, and Japanese ancestry. When the Second World War arose, the people immediately panicked and reacted poorly to the Japanese American citizens. The story follows the lives of these Japanese Americans through their painful internment by the American government for what they termed the 'good of the union.' The story is also centered on several other subplots, including a biracial romance between a young couple, as well as the death of a white island fisherman named Carl Heine, Jr., and the trial of the Japanese American man, Kabuo Miyamoto, on whom the citizens blamed his death. The story became even more complicated as it was revealed that the young couple was Ishmael Chambers and Hatsue Imada. Hatsue had grown up to marry Kabuo, the man on trial, and Ishmael had lost an arm in the war against the Japanese. Ishmael was also one of the reporters covering Kabuo's trial, and found himself tempted to ignore the ethics of journalism taught to him by his father in order to satiate his bitterness toward Hatsue for ending their childhood romance. In delving deeper into the issues that deal with Kabuo's trial, the effects of war, and the romance between young Ishmael and Hatsue, Snow Falling on Cedars explores human emotion and behavior with astonishing accuracy.
In the novel, David Guterson spent significant amounts of time exploring the way language can be used to convey a story line. Guterson went back and forth with scenes from past and present in the novel, combining both and portraying them thickly with literary devices. One of the most predominant literary devices in the novel was the use of imagery. The prevalent image of the story is the snow as it fell upon the cedars that populated San Piedro Island....