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Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson

Chapters 15–18

Chapters 11–14

Chapters 15–18, page 2

page 1 of 2

Summary: Chapter 15

The following morning, army trucks take San Piedro’s Japanese families to the Amity Harbor dock. They embark on the first stage of the long and arduous journey to Manzanar, an internment camp in the deserts of Southern California. At Manzanar, the Japanese-Americans live in cramped barracks that do not adequately protect them from the incessant wind and dust storms. The residents do not speak or complain to each other, however, but merely wander around in a daze like ghosts. Families lose track of one another and children wander off from their parents.

Ishmael’s first letter to Hatsue arrives at Manzanar. Ishmael has taken precautions so that the letter will reach Hatsue without her family’s knowledge, but this elaborate plan is foiled when Hatsue’s sister opens the letter, reads it, and shows it to her mother. Fujiko angrily confronts Hatsue about the letter, ordering her never to write or speak to Ishmael again. Hatsue admits that the relationship was wrong. The following day Hatsue writes Ishmael a letter breaking off their relationship. Within months, Ishmael is a memory, “a persistent ache buried beneath the surface of [Hatsue’s] daily life.” Hatsue meets Kabuo, and they soon fall in love.

Summary: Chapter 16

The narrative leaves Manzanar and rejoins Ishmael, who is now a marine aboard the U. S. S. Heywood, about to storm the island of Betio, part of the Tarawa Atoll in the South Pacific. Ishmael has been a marine since the late summer of 1942, training first as a rifleman in South Carolina, then as a radio officer in New Zealand. He and his fellow marines load into boats before dawn, then wait for hours in the waters off Betio. When they finally storm the beach, everything goes wrong. Nearly all of Ishmael’s company is killed before the men even reach the shore. Ishmael hides behind a seawall for hours, watching soldiers die all around him.

Finally, when evening falls, Ishmael and the remaining troops climb over the seawall to storm the beach. When a bullet hits his left arm, Ishmael drops behind a dead soldier and passes out. He wakes up to find that medics are tending to him. He blacks out again and then wakes up on a ship, surrounded by sick and dying soldiers. Ishmael realizes that his left arm has been amputated. As he recovers in bed, in a morphine-induced stupor, he mutters in confused rage about Hatsue, “that fucking goddamn Jap bitch.”

Summary: Chapter 17

As the blizzard continues to rage outside the courtroom, the narrative follows several San Piedro islanders as they cope with the storm. Back inside the courtroom, Art Moran testifies that one of the mooring ropes found on Carl Heine’s ship did not match the other three ropes but did match those on Kabuo’s boat. Furthermore, one of Kabuo’s ropes is brand new, indicating that he recently lost one and had to replace it. Art explains that he first thought to search Kabuo’s boat after speaking with Etta and Ole about Kabuo’s determination to reclaim his father’s land.

Summary: Chapter 18

The narrative flashes back to the moments just before Kabuo’s arrest. Art goes to Judge Fielding’s office to request a warrant to search Kabuo’s boat. When Art arrives at the dock with the warrant in hand, Kabuo allows the sheriff to search the boat but declares his innocence. Kabuo is eager to get out to sea and start fishing. Art soon discovers the blood-covered gaff, however, and decides to arrest Kabuo on the spot.

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