Notes on Snow Falling on Cedars Themes

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Snow Falling on Cedars Topic Tracking: Love

Chapter 1

Love 1: In Chapter 1, the reader sees Ishmael's feelings for Hatsue, and her response to them, for the first time. He simply asks her if she is all right, and she refuses to answer, telling him to go away. Though he is deeply in love with her, when she turns from him, she leaves all his emotions unfulfilled, and there is nothing he can do.

Love 2: Susan Marie Heine's love for her husband is made clear when she is told about his death. She becomes inert, unable to speak, and says aloud that she always knew this would happen. The moment is especially poignant since Carl had named his boat after her.

Chapter 8

Love 3: Fourteen year old Ishmael is in love with Hatsue in the desperate way of a young teenager, but he seems to know that he will never outgrow this type of love for her. He thinks she feels the same way about him, but this is unclear to the reader. She worries that her family will be angry.

Chapter 9

Love 4: Though Carl and Etta Heine are married, they do not appear to love each other. At one point Carl even tells Etta they are not "right" together (because she is vehemently anti-Japanese and he wants to support his neighbors during their internment.)

Chapter 14

Love 5: Ishmael is so in love with Hatsue that he does not see how she feels about him. Meanwhile, she has begun to see their love as a product of their youth and the attachment she feels to where she lives: he reminds her of clams and cedars and the quiet woods. She realizes, suddenly, that she does not want to be with him and has never wanted it. She cannot quite tell him this, however.

Chapter 20

Love 6: Susan Marie thinks about Carl constantly now that he is gone from her life. Susan Marie and Carl Heine loved each other in a way that was largely about sex. Susan Marie knows that much of their marriage centered on their sex life—they had had sex just a few hours before he left, never to be seen alive again—and she wonders what would have happened if their sex life had gone bad.

Chapter 22

Love 7: Ishmael has begun to hate Hatsue in some way, and to him a mutual distrust and conflict is better than no interaction at all. He has never stopped loving her, but his loneliness and anger has forced him to reach out to her in strange ways. During the trial, he is somewhat cruel to her, telling her she cannot expect fairness for Kabuo because life is not fair.

Chapter 30

Love 8: Ishmael is still so obsessively in love with Hatsue that he tries to manipulate her into coming to his mother's house to talk about the case. He wants to have something to hold over her, something to make her care about him, even if it is not really about him. He will do anything for her attention.

Chapter 31

Love 9: Ishmael realizes that he loves his mother, despite their fundamental disagreements about such things as the existence of God. He knows he will miss her when she is dead. He feels this largely because her love for him is so dependable: she will never give up on him the way he feels Hatsue did.

Chapter 32

Love 10: Though Hatsue does not love Ishmael, she respects him again, and this seems to begin to heal him. She shows her warmth for him by kissing him gently, exactly the way he has wanted for so many years. Although he is helping her get her husband back—something he is loathe to do, it satisfies him simply to be helping her at all.

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