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Snow Falling on Cedars

David Guterson

Chapters 25–29

Chapters 22–24

Chapters 25–29, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary : Chapter 25

The narrative returns to the courtroom on the third day of Kabuo’s trial. Hatsue takes the stand, and Nels Gudmundsson questions her. She is outwardly calm during her testimony, but she struggles to suppress her nervousness. Hatsue tells the court that Kabuo remained optimistic about recovering his family’s land after his conversation with Ole Jurgensen, despite the fact that Ole had already accepted a down payment from Carl. Kabuo felt even more optimistic after speaking with Carl. Kabuo came home the morning of September 16 and told Hatsue that he came across Carl stranded in his boat and loaned him a battery. Kabuo said that Carl agreed to sell the seven acres of land to Kabuo for $8,400, leaving Kabuo jubilant.

Summary: Chapter 26

Alvin Hooks cross-examines Hatsue on the stand. He gets Hatsue to admit that upon learning of Carl’s death, she and Kabuo did not tell anyone about Kabuo’s interaction with Carl that night—the incident of the dead battery and Carl’s agreement to sell the land—because they feared Kabuo would fall under suspicion and would be accused of Carl’s death.

Next on the stand is Josiah Gillanders, the president of the San Piedro Gill-Netters Association. He testifies that gill-netters—fishermen like Carl and Kabuo—board each other’s boats only in cases of emergency. Tying two boats together is tricky, Gillanders adds, so it would be virtually impossible to board another man’s boat against his will. Despite the fact that minor disputes frequently arise between fishermen, no gill-netter would ever refuse to help another in an emergency. Alvin Hooks offers a hypothetical scenario: Kabuo pretends to have an emergency aboard his boat, asks Carl to tie up next to him and assist him, and then kills Carl with his gaff. Josiah admits that this scenario is indeed more plausible than a forced boarding scenario.

Summary: Chapter 27

The narrative flashes back to September, just after Carl’s death and Kabuo’s arrest. Nels Gudmundsson, who has been assigned to defend Kabuo, visits his client in jail. Kabuo denies that he spoke with Carl Heine the night of Carl’s death. Nels does not believe him. Kabuo admits that he lied because he did not expect to be trusted, citing the smoldering prejudice against Japanese-Americans on San Piedro. Kabuo explains that he was fishing in the impenetrable fog in Ship Channel Bank that night, just as Carl was. Kabuo tells Nels that he answered a distress signal from Carl’s boat. One of Carl’s batteries had run out of power, so the two fishermen tied their boats together and Kabuo loaned Carl a D-6 battery. Carl’s engine used D-8 batteries—a different size—so he used Kabuo’s fishing gaff as a hammer to bend the battery hold to accommodate the D-6 battery. Carl cut his hand in the process, leaving blood on the handle of the gaff.

After Kabuo finished assisting Carl, they had a tense conversation—Carl thanked Kabuo for his help and forthrightly admitted that he might not have done the same for Kabuo. Carl then mentioned the land, explaining that his mother sold it while he was off fighting “you goddamned Japs.” Kabuo angrily reminded Carl that he was an American citizen, not a Japanese one, and pointed out that Carl’s German ancestry never led Kabuo to call him a Nazi. Carl apologized again and offered to sell Kabuo the seven acres of land for $1,200 per acre, the same price Kabuo had agreed to pay Ole Jurgensen for it. Kabuo agreed immediately, and the two fishermen went their separate ways.

Summary: Chapter 28

The novel returns to the courtroom, with Kabuo now on the stand. Questioned by Alvin Hooks, Kabuo admits to lying when he was arrested. He acknowledges several details that he had not mentioned before, such as the fact that he replaced the D-6 battery he loaned Carl with a spare from his own shed. Kabuo claims that he was unwilling to cooperate with the police at first out of fear of being judged unfairly. Alvin Hooks emphasizes the inconsistencies in Kabuo’s story, saying, “You’re a hard man to trust, Mr. Miyamoto.”

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