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Snow Falling on Cedar's Use of Setting in Character Development

  • Date Submitted: 03/17/2010 12:49 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 46.2 
  • Words: 308
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*Choose a novel in which the setting in time/place is a significant feature. Show how the writers’ us*e of setting contributes to your understanding of character and/or theme.
In addition, the use of the ‘herd mentality’ within the Japanese community on San Piedro is another very effective technique employed by Guterson in illustrating Hatsue’s duty. Hatsue was born in America yet a strong part of her identity tells her to be Japanese, which is clearly very confusing, particularly to Hatsue as a younger character. Japanese characters on San Piedro are representing their country. It is a small, secluded island therefore only a few islanders really know how other cultures operate:
‘“Yes, you were born here, that’s so,” said Fujiko. “But your blood – you are still Japanese.”’
As a teenager she is confused about her identity. Guterson portrays Hatsue as wanting to be both American and Japanese, yet he points out that – with this divide – the customs cannot interlink. This is particularly true because of the novel’s setting. It is a time of heightened conflict between the two countries. Furthermore, being based on an island located in America highlights Hatsue’s confusion. She is constantly pressured into becoming more Japanese. At the internment camp – Manzanar – the Japanese community is able to come together as one and take something positive from their bad situation.
Hatsue is portrayed throughout the novel by Guterson as if she is extremely devoted to her Japanese identity but is simply confused and wants to have a proper place in American culture. Hatsue simply wants to recognise that she is a mix of both races and not be defined solidly as one or the other. Guterson is able to show this very effectively with his examination of the conflicting messages that Hatsue feels and receives in her life.

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