Stranger In The Kingdom Vs. Snow Falling On Cedars Essay, Research Paper
Snow Falling On Cedars
Stranger In The Kingdom
When I first read Howard Frank Mosher s novel Stranger In The Kingdom I was astonished that something like that took place in Vermont. I have always been under the misconception that racism isn t extremely prevalent in our local culture today. Once again my white American s views were challenged when I read Snow Falling On Cedars, by David Guterson. The two books seem to me to be exactly the same story, only they occur about forty years apart from each other. The book are so synonymous with each other, that most of the characters are comparable.
As the story of David Guterson s book unfolds, we find ourselves looking through the eyes of a man that has lived on the island for most of his life. His name is Ishmael Chambers. Ishmael seems to be a perceptive child, and soon gets to know one of the island s many Japanese girls, named Hatsue. As fate would have it, they fall in love with each other in Shakespeare-like-fashion. The problem of them coming from two different races of people forces them to be secretive about their relationship. When Hatsue is forced to move away because of WWII regulations, she ends her relationship with Ishmael, sending him into a life filled with jealousy and grief.
Howard Frank Mosher paints the same portrait for us, only in a more commonly know setting. A black man and his son are cognizant of their color when they are forced to live in a town of solely white people. As the murder trial unfolds, we find out that the man s son also has been having a relationship such as the one Ishmael and Hatsue had. He had been having relations with a white mail-order bride that had just arrived in town. They kept this secret because of the obvious problems it would have caused with the bigoted townspeople. In both stories, a love between two different people has evolved. Similar to each story the only reason the two young people were separated was due solely on the race and social standing. (The similarity to Romeo and Juliet here is amazing. I am beginning to think that all modern love stories are based on that play; West Side Story.) I believe that stories such as these will continue to happen indefinitely in the future.
Ever since Columbus first set foot on the New World, racism and prejudice has been an issue. I personally have always been a little more cognizant than most youths about racism, due to my father s work with Cesar Chavez. The media has been good about publicizing events about the struggle for equality, especially the struggle that continues to this day in the south. One area of racism in our history that I had never heard of before, was the rounding up of oriental people during WWII. My mind immediately flashed back to scenes during Steven Spielberg s hit Schindler s List. Jews being rounded up into concentration camps became synonymous with millions of oriental faces living in mediocre (at best) conditions. Why hadn t any of my previous history classes ever covered this topic? Why, at 17 years of age and a junior in high school was I only becoming aware of it now? Provocative thoughts such as these kept circling through my head as Hatsue described the conditions in the camps. I believe that we have enough books like Stranger In The Kingdom in our repertoire. Books such as Snow Falling On Cedars is a book that should be more widely taught to enlighten students about the issues our country seems to forget.
Ever since the thought-provoking meeting of C.V.U. s Diversity Committee, I really do believe that we are not informed of a well-balanced amount of information in school. After reading and rereading the section about the mistreatment of oriental people during WWII, I believe that we should focus more on issues such as these in our history classes at school. I remember a speech that Jesse Jackson once gave where he stated that in order for us to fix racism, we had to educate all children at an early stage. Although we as upper classmen at C.V.U. are far from being at an early stage, we could still use a little reminder of what our predecessors have done.
These two books we read over summer break were a phenomenal resource for recognizing problems with our society. Although the two books occurred during different periods of the twentieth century, they are far from different. Both show the same human behavior and attitudes towards people that are different. They re also different because one is a more well known theme of racism than the other. However, both books present us with thoughts and emotions that should be felt by young adults.