Snow Falling on Cedars
How is the concept of the conflicting perspectives represented in the texts you have studied? In your answer refer to Snow Falling on Cedars and ONE related text of your choosing A conflicting perspective is a point of view of either one or more people that is generally subjective which presents a form of opposition in opinion. The novel, ‘Snow falling On Cedars’ composed by David Guterson in 1995 and the film ‘Crash’ composed by Paul Haggis in 2005 represents the concept of conflicting perspectives in different ways.
Both the film and the novel convey the ideas of the social, judicial and interpersonal concepts in their texts through their characters and experiences such as Ishmael Chambers in Snow falling On Cedars and Jean from ‘Crash’.
In ‘Snow Falling On Cedars’ Guterson addresses the idea of conflicting perspectives through a court case and then relates other people’s perspectives to the core plot of the novel while ‘Crash’ tells several different stories and then melds them together.
Therefore through each composer’s use of sub plots, setting in the strawberry fields and techniques, the concept of conflicting perspectives is represented. The novel, Snow Falling on Cedars is a crime fiction novel which reveals a story about an investigation and trial into the death of a local islander on San Piedro. The book in itself characterises many sub plots such as the relationship between Ishmael Chambers and Hatsue Imada as well as the main plot of the murder trial. Guterson uses setting as a technique in order to reinforce his representation of conflicting perspectives in the novel.
One of the main conflicting perspectives which are represented in “snow Falling on Cedars” is the concept of racial heritage due to World War II. This is political conflict which in turn causes distress in the everyday life of the characters within the book. The racial hatred between the Japanese and the Americans fuels many of the conflicts which occur in the book including the prejudice and urged conviction of Kabuo and also separating those in society who have different opinions.
The war seems to change peoples’ perspectives on everything and Guterson represents a latent mistrust of the different. This can be seen in the novel as the repercussions of the attack on Pearl Harbour cause minor abuse of residential Japanese ‘traitors’ who are being arrested ‘in Hawaii and other places- and the FBI’s in on it”. Guterson represents the conflicting perspectives through the personalities of Arthur and Ishmael chambers who through their newspaper voiced reason and unbiased information over the war ‘Let us remember… hat prejudice and hatred are never right and never to be accepted by a just society (Arthur) and this caused great criticism from the fellow islanders. “Seems like your favouring the Japs Art”. This can be contrasted with the characters of Etta Heine who sold off the land promised to the Miyamoto’s while they were in internment camp and also the boatman Dale Middleton who comments to Ishmael ‘suckers all look alike’ referring to the Miyamoto’s. The use of the strawberry fields within the novel highlights Guterson’s representation of the concept of conflicting perspectives.
The fields are a superficial union of all the islanders with growers, pickers and packers working off the farm and the rest of the island attending the Strawberry Festival in town each year. The strawberry field represents one of the main themes in the film which is the idea that not everything is as it seems. The fields are symbols of richness and fertility and hold a sense of beauty in the fruit it produces however, at the same time the fields are cold and bitter to work on which becomes symbolic of the characters on the island.
In ‘Snow Falling On Cedars’ there is a sub plot which revolves around the relationship of two islanders and this relationships represents the concepts of conflicting perspectives. The relationship between Ishmael Chambers and Hatsue Imada becomes highly significant as not only is the responder able to see the conflicting perspectives between Ishmael and Hatsue but also the conflicting perspectives which occur within Ishmael later in the book. Ishmael loves Hatsue and the loss of the relationship between them results in the hatred of Hatsue and a loss of compassion from Ishmael.
They both have different perspectives on their relationship and therefore it was destined to fail, not only because of the racial differences but also because she doesn’t love Ishmael. This revelation is revealed to the responder through the hidden scene in the cedar tree. ‘It came as an enormous shock to her, this knowledge, and at the same time it was something she had always known, something until now hidden’. This quote also becomes quite significant as the relationship between Ishmael and Hatsue was kept a secret with their love filled meetings kept within a hollowed out cedar tree in the forest.
Ultimately the idea that the relationship was kept a secret damned it because in order for their relationship to continue they need to be open about it but the relationship can only exist in secret. “… we can’t go out, Ishmael. We’re trapped inside this tree”. The end of the book gives Ishmael the opportunity for Ishmael to resolve many of the conflicting perspectives in the novel with the evidence he discovered at the light house which would clear Kabuo’s name. However, the personal cost to him is enormous and it takes away something in himself when he comes forward to resolve it.
The use of the cedar trees within the novel becomes an important technique when considering the representation of the concepts of conflict in the novel. The cedar tree is a place where Ishmael and Hatsue are able to pursue their relationship because it offers them a place away from cultural values and rules and gives them the opportunity to pursue their feelings. The tree offers them a protection from the realities of the outside world. The tree, like the strawberry fields is a symbol of tenderness and beauty.
The tree however is hollow and has something missing and this becomes symbolic of Hatsue’s and Ishmael’s relationship because it signifies that it was never meant to be and that there was something missing from their relationship. It was hollow. The tree is symbolic of the two’s love as this is the place where they lose their virginity to each other. However, moments after this takes place Hatsue asks Ishmael to pull out as she feels that their relationship is over. She does not love him. The cedar tree is as much of a symbol of Ishmael’s love as it is of Hatsue’s love in cultural blood.
The film, ‘Crash’ composed by Paul Haggis in 2005 represents the concept of conflicting perspectives. At the beginning of the film the responder watches several different characters in different sub plots creating several different stories which have no correlation to each other. As the film progresses the several different sub plots begin to meld into one and ultimately revolve around a single car crash. The film ‘Crash’ displays several different meanings of conflicting perspectives from the point of view of different characters and then displays how these perspectives can change when subjected to different experiences.
This can be seen through the character of Jean who due to a car-jacking earlier in the film, has a conflicting perspective on race. This perspective becomes ironic in that she feel that ‘whites’ are more superior and do not commit themselves to such abhorred acts as that of coloured people. However when she takes a fall within her own home and none of her ‘white’ friends come to help her, it is in fact her Hispanic maid Maria who helps her. The responder is able to see the change in Jeans perspective when she comments to her maid Maria “you’re the best friend I’ve got”.
This can be related to the character of Ishmael in ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ as he too changes his perspective towards the end of the novel when he discovers evidence which could change the course of his ex-lovers husbands court trial. The 12th chapter in ‘Crash’, Protect and Serve, captures the films essence of the representation of conflicting perspectives where two characters, Officer Ryan and Christine are forced into a situation where they are both forced to face their conflicting perspectives towards each other.
In the beginning of the film, Officer Ryan assaults Christine, a black women based on his external conflict of racial prejudice. Scene 12 “Protect and Serve” forces both characters to acknowledge their conflicting perspectives, giving them the opportunity to resolve this as Christine is trapped in her overturned car and Officer Ryan tries to free her. The scene uses several pan shots, non- dijectic and music sounds to create a surreal sense, as though the crash is a dream. This becomes important as the Haggis transforms the surreal sense to an immediate and high risk situation using mis-en-scene to create the emergency of the situation.
As Officer Ryan reaches the car, the responder is able to see a series of shots which show the scene from not only Officer Ryan’s perspective, but also Christine’s. This scene forces Christine to face her internal conflicting view of Officer Ryan as an abuser screaming “no, not you. Anyone but you” at him when she realises who he is. The idea that Christine is ultimately forced to face her internal conflicts by accepting Officer Ryan can also be seen in the novel Snow Falling on Cedars as Ishmael is forced to face his internal conflict in order to be able to present the evidence to save her husband, Kabuo from conviction.
Overall the 1995 novel, ‘Snow Falling on Cedars’ and the 2005 film, ‘Crash’ represents the concept of conflicting perspectives through the use of characters, setting and technique. The use of the characters Ishmael, Jean and Christine creates conflicting perspectives within themselves outlining how perspective are created and changed throughout the course of the text. Therefore In ‘Snow Falling on cedars’ composed by David Guterson and ‘Crash’ composed by Paul Haggis the concept of conflicting perspectives is represented.