Snow Falling on Cedars Essay
At the core of representation within a text is a composers hope to provoke within the responder thought about specific situations, personalities and ideas. Bias is evident in conflicting perspectives texts as the meaning is conveyed through manipulating either visual or language forms and features that position us to understand the composers ideas and purpose. David Gutersons Snow Falling on Cedars along with Joel Schumachers film A Time to Kill and Matt Ottleys picture book Lukes Way of Looking all, despite varied textual forms, articulate meaning and a partial perspective of the protagonist in each text.
Guterson in Snow Falling on Cedars uses a conventional isolated setting to highlight the ignorance of mankind, depicting a microcosm of the world. By contextualizing his novel into a winter ambience, the season is able to symbolize a turbulent community experiencing conflict. The metaphorical notion that haphazard cedar fences lined the careless roads suggests that man against natures will has constructed the divisions within society. This representation of natures disapproval of the social divide established by man is a reflection of Gutersons purpose of the text, to draw attention to racial prejudices towards the Japanese before, after and during world war two. The continuing motif of snow represents the chilling burden of hatred that distorts humanity, which is juxtaposed to the continuing motif of cedars, symbolizing natures resilience to shake off injustice. By using the setting of winter and the representations of nature as snow and cedars, the responder identifies Gutersons own opinion, that the social divide amongst the white-Americans and the Japanese is socially immoral.
While Guterson uses nature to portray the conflicting perspectives within Snow Falling on Cedars, Ottly intertwines elements of colour, composition and dialogue in Lukes Way of Looking to depict how societal hierarchies can culminate subdued conflict. Ottley draws upon Picasso inspiration within Lukes painting to highlight the protagonist embodying a different outlook to his class and teachers. Picasso himself demonstrated uncanny artistic talent in his early years, painting in a realistic manner through his childhood. The bars on the window within the frame allude to prison bars, Ottley signifying the suppression and containment of Luke which evokes sympathy in the responder, and thus a biased perspective. Ottley uses a recurring motif of a bird that signifies not only that such suppression has been man-made as in Snow Falling on Cedars, but that nature signifies hope for freedom of expression of all perspectives. The use of bright and different colours in the frames where Luke is expressing himself differently to the other students juxtaposes the dull and grey frames of his teacher and the normal world around him. This creates a more interested approach to the frames containing Luke which subconsciously allows the responder to engage in a biased perspective of the picture book.
Guterson conceptualizes prejudice through the trial of Kabuo Miyamoto and the conflict between the law and its supposed justice with morality. Guterson introduces a court trial at the very beginning of Snow Falling on Cedars, in media res, to foreshadow to the responder the conflicting perspectives that permeate the novels plot and to establish a perspective in the favour of Kabuo as the innocent and hard done by charged. Prosectuor Alvin Hooks utilizes prejudiced ideals, such as Kabuos Kendo skills, as the foundation of his case. The racial tension caused from Pearl Harbour eliminates and even battle between prosecutor and defence, as the jury and towns perspectives are prejudice against the Jap, Kabuo.
A Time to Kill also employs the use of a trial to provide the responder with an opportunity to observe the conflicting views and values between the white-Americans and the African-Americans. The graphic depiction of Carl Lees daughter being raped and tortured evokes emotion in the responder and a negative perspective of the white-Americans, which reflects the composers purpose of the film. An aerial shot outside the courthouse of the white-Americans and the African-Americans divided by a line of police is symbolic of the conflict that has torn the town in half. It makes the people outside of the courthouse appear insignificant to the courthouse itself, symbolising that a towns perspectives will not alter the decision made in the court, whether it is injustice or not. The dichotomy is not merely prosecution versus defence, but analogous to Snow Falling on Cedars, extends outside to the historical and contextual conflicts between the African-Americans and the Ku Klux Klan. Amongst the chaos the defence attorney Jake argues that the law is not impartial, Thats not the truth. Because the eyes of the law are human eyes and until we can see each other as equals, justice is never going to be even-handed. Thus, similar to Snow Falling on Cedars, exploring the differing stances on the racially charged trial in A Time to Kill with an uneven view manipulates the responders own perspective on the correctness of either view.
The representation of conflicting perspectives through clever placement of characters and effective integration of language, form, visual and stylistic techniques presents a biased demonstration of prejudice and conflict within Snow Falling on Cedars, A Time to Kill, and Lukes Way of Looking.