Snow Falling on Cedars

A comparison if the influence of the past and the present in Snow Falling on Cedars and Chocolat.

Joanne Harris’ novel Chocolat and Scott Hicks’ film Snow Falling on Cedars use characters and their interactions to explore the influence of the past on the present. Both texts reveal the influence of past relationships on their major female and male characters’ present lives. Where Harris’ focus is family relationships, Hicks also explores the impact of a past romantic relationship. Using a dual first-person narrative, Harris relies on the reminiscences of her central characters to convey the connection between past and present, whereas Hicks employs a non-linear structure of flashbacks interspersed with the present to make this link. Both texts use the impact of racism on its victims to reveal that not only individuals live in the shadow of the past, but also the entire community.

Both Chocolat and Snow Falling on Cedars depict how a childhood father figure shapes the lifestyle of their main male character. Harris’ dual first-person narrative voice allows the reader access to antagonist Reynaud’s thoughts and memories as he speaks to Mon Pere, who was once his childhood mentor; whereas Hicks juxtaposes flashbacks from several characters’ perspectives with the present to reveal how the past shaped protagonist Ishmael’s (Ethan...

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