Snow Falling on Cedars
Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. How does Guterson use Kabuo’s criminal trial to explore prejudice against Japanese-Americans?
2. Guterson alternates between scenes taking place in the courtroom in the present and flashbacks from the past. What effect does such a narrative structure have?
3. How does Alvin Hooks use the jurors’ prejudices against Japanese-Americans in an effort to win his case against Kabuo?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. What dramatic purpose does the snowstorm serve? How does Guterson relate the storm to his narrative?
2. Does Ishmael’s decision to bring the lighthouse evidence to Judge Fielding’s attention represent a major development in Ishmael’s character? What is the significance of Ishmael’s decision?
3. The novel presents several different codes of behavior, each associated with a different character. What are some of these codes and how do they differ?
4. Considering the demographics of San Piedro’s population, what is ironic about the prejudice against Japanese immigrants and their descendants? How does Guterson develop this irony?
5. Why is Sergeant Maples an inappropriate expert witness on kendo?
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