Snow Falling on Cedars Essay

Submitted By JDTuell38
Words: 1221
Pages: 5

J.D. Tuell
March 4, 2012
Humanities 3/7

Racism on San Piedro Island

The novel “Snow Falling on Cedars” written by David Guterson has strong evidence of racism, more specifically racism between the Japanese Americans that migrated onto the Island and the Americans that have grown up on the Island. When America entered into World War II the situation for the Japanese in America becomes even worse and the effects of all the people in the area have a major role in this people group in this novel. Racism is the most prevalent theme in the novel and is demonstrated within the island through Etta Heine, the townsfolk, and the jury system. Throughout the novel many influential people demonstrate the act of racism towards the Japanese people and their community. One specific example of extreme racism is Carl Heine’s mother Etta Heine. Etta Heine is unsympathetically racist and she displays words of hurtfulness and hatred toward the Japanese. During the agreement of the selling of the land, Etta was convinced that this was a bad idea. She was not in agreement even though they sold the land. “He was always nodding, thought Etta. It was how they got the better of you-they acted small thought big. Nod, say nothing, keep their face turned small; it was how they got things like her seven acres. How are you going to make the payments if me and Carl’s picking your berries?” (Guterson 127). Even after the land is sold she still can not find a way to be kind to the Japanese and to their race. “He’d gone rigid, gone cold. She could see that he was angry, that he was holding it in, not exposing his rage. He’s proud, she thought. I just spit on him, he’s pretending it didn’t happen that way. Blink away, she thought (Guterson 131). She is so angry and frustrated with the person because she believes she is better than him, and that she is superior because of their skin color, and she is pointing out the bad in him while she still cannot get past his looks. She is absolutely filled with hatred towards these people. Even though Etta’s racism shows through strongly many other townsfolk also seem to have a racist view. The townsfolk including barbers, storekeepers, and the census taker at Port Jefferson Mill are all victims in the theme of racism are prevalent through the words they choose to talk with and the names they call people. “Thirty-nine Japanese worked in Port Jefferson mill, but the census taker neglected to list them by name, referring instead to Jap Number 1, Jap Number 2, Jap Number 3, Japan Charlie, Old Jap Sam, Laughing Jap, Dwarf Jap, Chippy, Boots, and Stumpy-names of this sort instead of real names” (Guterson 75). These are not nice names and there is a lot of evidence that the Japanese were not liked in this particular time in history and especially when they were on their way to internment camp and the conditions they went through was quite extreme. Many of the islanders believed that the Japanese needed to be exiled and they were. This shows that hatred racism can lead people to do the extreme in a situation when it is not needed. “They were loaded onto a ship while their white neighbors looked on, people who had risen early to stand in the cold and watch this exorcising of the Japanese… The fishermen felt, like most islanders, that this exiling of the Japanese was the right thing to do, and leaned against the cabins of their stern-pickers and bow-pickers with the conviction that the Japanese must go for reasons that made sense; their was a war on and that changed everything”(Guterson 79). The expressions on the American faces were not at all up-lifting or in anyway that America was doing the wrong thing, and this war changed everything to do with America and the relationship with the Japanese. Many Americans never made a confession showing that they did the wrong thing and hopefully this incident will not happen again if another country attacks the U.S. because the Japanese-Americans had nothing to do with the