Snow Falling on Cedars

Reason and Chance 12th Grade

“There are things in this universe that we cannot control, and then there are the things we can…let fate, coincidence, and accident conspire; human beings must act on reason” (Guterson 418). Reason, especially in the eyes and hands of human beings, is a very fickle thing in David Guterson’s novel Snow Falling on Cedars. It is applied and interpreted in different ways by different people, and often, it is incorrectly done so. Etta Heine believes it is pure reason that causes her to ignore the agreement between her dead husband and Zenhichi Miyamoto and instead sell her land to Ole Jurgensen; however, it is only undiluted prejudice. Despite this, there are also those on San Piedro Island who do understand reason in both concept and practice. Nels Gudmundsson is an examples of one of these people, as is Kabuo Miyamoto. On the island of San Piedro, reason and the lack there of collide constantly, leaving indelible stains on all of the islanders. It is the colliding of reason and irrationalism that controls the lives of all of the islanders and that brings them all to where they are when Kabuo Miyamoto is tried for murder.

In Snow Falling on Cedars, Nels Gudmundsson is one of the few characters to represent reason. Though he is in...

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