Snow Falling On Cedars Essay

2233 words - 9 pages

Racism can be defined as the vicious, sadistic, and overwhelming hatred of a person of a different ethnicity (Unk). Racism often causes problems in today's society. It was an even bigger issue in the past when the Ku Klux Klan was at its peak and also during and after World War II. The Ku Klux Klan mainly affected African-Americans in the South whereas the Japanese-Americans became the targets of hate crimes and discrimination because the United States was at war with Japan. The book, Snow Falling on Cedars, written by David Guterson, is about a trial that reveals the prejudice that people have towards Japanese-Americans. The protagonist, Kabuo Miyamoto, is suspected of murdering Carl Heine after Carl is found dead, caught in his fishing net. Carl's death is suspicious because the coroner, Horace Whaley, suspects that Kabuo inflicted a massive head wound to Carl with a kendo stroke, a sport that Kabuo is an expert in. As a result Kabuo faces charges for first-degree murder. With biased prejudice and discrimination, the prosecutor, Alvin Hooks, successfully accomplishes portraying Kabuo as a cold-blooded "Jap". Whereas, Kabuo's lawyer, Nels Gudmundsson tries to ingrain the fact that first-degree murder involves the premeditation of the crime since no clear evidence existed that Kabuo has planned the murder of Carl Heine. In spite of this argument, all but one of the jurors reason that enough evidence exists, which is a fictitious story that Hooks makes up to prove that Kabuo had committed first-degree murder. Luckily for Kabuo, his wife, Hatsue Miyamoto, and the reporter, Ishmael Chambers, discover two very important pieces of evidence on Carl's boat before the jurors can reach a conclusion. This evidence matches along the lines of Kabuo's story and finally proves that Carl had accidentally fallen into the ocean. Throughout this trial, there are also many flashbacks that narrate the story of the lives of the people in San Piedro. The trial, as well as the hardships Japanese-Americans face each day, parallels actual events that have happened during this same time period.There were several court cases, including Korematsu vs. United States, which involved the prejudice of Japanese-Americans. In the case of Korematsu vs. United States in 1943, the Supreme Court ruled that the military detention process was constitutional. In another case, Hirabayashi vs. United States, it explicitly stated that it was legal to put curfews and restrictions on people based on their race. Furthermore, Japanese-Americans could not become citizens of the United States and they could not hold land titles unless they were citizens. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, every Japanese-American became a suspect of espionage. Thus the government decided to intern all people of Japanese ancestry. Justice Murphy called it "the legalization of racism". In the internment camps, they faced not only poor conditions but also were curtailed of their privacy. Moreover, life did not get...

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