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Essay on Snow Falling on Cedars

The aim of literature is to entertain and inform. We see this in the novel “Snow Falling on Cedars” by David Guterson. Guterson uses stylistic language techniques to capture the reader and involve them in the text. By integrating flash backs into the murder mystery genre, the characters are made three dimensional, and the reader becomes involved. The story informs the reader by integrating important themes into the text.

Literature aims to entertain. “Snow Falling on Cedars” is entertaining because it is written in such a way that the reader becomes involved with the characters. Guterson uses metaphors of the surrounding area, to give insight into the characters. For example, the radiator in the courtroom is sluggish and slow to get started, and is in a state of disrepair. This is a metaphor for the townsfolk, and by using it, Guterson has made the reader link the two together. Through using descriptive metaphors in the early stages of the book, when the same character traits are brought up later, they already feel familiar to the reader. The book is well written in the murder mystery genre, which creates suspense. The plot draws and captivates the reader. Guterson integrates flashbacks from different character perspectives, which make the murder mystery more intriguing. These flashbacks hold in them vital clues and insights to the plot and the reader is forced to think. The layers of plot are gradually built up, giving the book a three dimensional quality. Subtle clues given by the author create a question about Kabuo’s innocence. This question creates curiosity in the mind of the reader, who is entertained by the suspense and drama, and finally the conclusion.

Literature also aims to inform. Through different characters experiences in “Snow Falling in Cedars”, Guterson subtly informs the reader of several strong themes. The rising snowstorm is a metaphor for the building tension between the two communities on the island, and through this and Ishmael and Hatsue’s relationship we are shown racial tension. Through Carl and Kabuo’s lost friendship, Ishmael’s missing arm, Whaley’s personality, and the racial prejudice shown by the townsfolk, we are shown the impacts of war, both on communities and individuals. These are the prominent themes in the book, although Guterson weaves several others in as well. Through the suggested incompetence of the lawyers and law enforcers, and the run down courtroom, Guterson questions the human ability to pass judgement accuracy. Ishmael’s phantom pains in his missing arm are a metaphor for his heart, which still aches for Hatsue, even though she is long gone. This and the comparison between Ishmael and Carl highlights the theme that we need to learn and move on. These themes are interlaced and layered throughout the text unobtrusively, but in such a way that at the end of the book, the reader subconsciously takes away a new understanding of people and their cultures.

“Snow Falling on Cedars” is a good example of Literature that entertains and informs. The way it is crafted in layers, using a good murder mystery plot with stylistic language makes it entertaining. The subtle integration of theme into this plot gives the reader a better understanding at the end of the story. The reader is captivated and this is what makes it such a good read.

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