“Everything else is ambiguous. Everything else is emotions and hunches. At least the facts you can cling to; the emotions just float away.”

Midway through Chapter 24, Ishmael and his mother, Helen Chambers, debate Kabuo’s guilt. Ishmael pretends to think that Kabuo is guilty, despite having just discovered crucial evidence at the lighthouse that effectively exonerates Kabuo. Moreover, after his conversation with Hatsue, Ishmael knows that although “[e]verything else is ambiguous,” he has a responsibility to do what he can to ensure that justice prevails. In his conversation with his mother, Ishmael stubbornly clings to certain convictions that he knows are untrue. He believes that only facts matter and that facts are always clear and objective. Ishmael’s mother, however, realizes that her son’s convictions are merely a shell behind which he hides. She implies that one emotion in particular—love—is stronger than fact and reason. Through Helen’s debate with her son, Guterson explores how humans can live together in a universe governed by chance. Helen offers a compelling answer: human beings cannot ever really know the facts or the truth, but they can choose to love one another. Later, after Ishmael decides to overcome his resentment and chooses to help Kabuo, he grasps his mother’s sentiment, understanding that chance has the power to rule everything in the world except the heart.