Snow Falling on Cedars

by: David Guterson

Kabuo Miyamoto

Characters Kabuo Miyamoto

Like Carl Heine, Kabuo is a victim of fate. He does not feel that his fate is entirely arbitrary, however. A conscientious and pensive man, Kabuo feels guilty about killing Germans in World War II, even though he was merely doing his duty as a soldier. He had, after all, chosen to serve his country out of a desire to prove his loyalty. Still, Kabuo condemns himself for these wartime killings, believing that the guilt will remain with him even after his death.

Kabuo’s feeling of guilt is so pronounced that it haunts him in the same way that Hatsue’s rejection and the war haunt Ishmael. Though he is innocent of killing Carl Heine, Kabuo does not feel self-pity about his wrongful imprisonment. Rather, he accepts his trial and potential death sentence as a form of cosmic justice for his earlier murders in the war. However, he has no faith in this system of justice and lies to his attorney because he does not think anyone will believe him. Though Kabuo certainly wants to live, since he loves and appreciates his family, he is not even sure he deserves to be free. In effect, Kabuo puts himself at the mercy of chance because he does not believe in his own right to decide his future.