Notes on Snow Falling on Cedars Themes

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Snow Falling on Cedars Topic Tracking: Small Town Life

Chapter 2

Small Town Life 1: Art Moran's job is made more difficult by the fact that he knew the entire Heine family. THeir entire history comes back to him as he discovers Carl's body. His police work is far from impersonal, and he worries so much about the Heines that he wishes he did not have to be involved in the investigation of Carl's death.

Chapter 5

Small Town Life 2: Horace Whaley and Art Moran have known each other a long time, and so their professional relationship can at times become personal. Horace is a coroner "by default"--he does the job because no one else in this small town wants to. Horace knows that Art does not handle gore very well, and he kindly reassures Art that it is important for him to see Carl's wound.

Chapter 6

Small Town Life 3: Art Moran is uncomfortable when he goes to tell Susan Marie that her husband has died. Art would like to speak to her formally and then leave--this would be easier for him--and so he decides he will tell her he has urgent business and "in the spirit of one who knows his place simply leave Susan Marie alone."

Chapter 10

Small Town Life 4: For Ole Jurgensen it makes sense to sell his farm to Carl Heine Jr. Carl and his family had lived there, and Etta Heine had sold the land to Ole. In such a small town, family histories are of great consequence.

Chapter 13

Small Town Life 5: When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, the entire town of Amity Harbor is up in arms. Everyone is watching everyone else, and the minority population of Japanese residents is suddenly in the spotlight. They have nowhere to hide in the small town, and although they make a point to show their patriotism by sending money and joining the army, Amity Harbor's white residents are often very suspicious of them.

Chapter 17

Small Town Life 6: When the snow falls heavily in San Piedro, all the citizens band together. Everyone goes to the same grocery store to stock up on food, and many people go to the same doctor if they injure themselves on the ice. The community is insular and self-reliant.

Chapter 19

Small Town Life 7: When Dr. Whitman enters the courtroom, he is seen as a curiosity, partly because he is tall and partly because no one knows who he is. This event helps the reader see just how much everyone knows about everyone else: no secrets can be kept, and everyone has a personal view of everyone else.

Chapter 23

Small Town Life 8: In a town like Amity Harbor, a reporter like Ishmael Chambers has many jobs. He can act as a private investigator, and because he knows everybody he knows exactly who to talk to and how much to trust them. When he searches through the coast guard records, he finds evidence about the night of Carl Heine's death that changes the entire case.

Chapter 28

Small Town Life 9: At the trial, the citizens seem to think as one. They watch Kabuo and determine that he is "not like them". Their town is so insular and afraid of difference that for them, it is almost the same as guilt. The townspeople are desperately trying to see something of themselves in the accused man, but they can only think of him as foreign, because of the way he looks and acts.

Chapter 30

Small Town Life 10: The jurors are tired and desperate to get home to their families. Once all but one of them has decided that Kabuo is guilty, the last juror feels a great deal of pressure from the others. In the manner of small town people, they band together and try to convince the juror to agree with them.

Chapter 31

Small Town Life 11: Arthur Chambers fit well into small town island life, because he understood how to respect and love people without liking them. He knew that on an island, one cannot be anonymous, and any feud that begins will probably continue for a long time, because the two parties cannot separate from each other. Ishmael has not blended as well into island life: he is too obviously different.

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