Japans In San Peidro Essay, Research Paper
Japan in San Piedro
?It is plain that, if the right belongs to any, it belongs to all.?
David Guterson, author of ?Snow Falling on Cedars?, introduces San Piedro as an isolated place which no one who lives there can afford make enemies. But couple years after WW II, a fisherman found drowned. And a Japans American is charged with his murder. All of the action is happening after the Second World War and most of the men of this Island fought in the war even Kabuo the Japans American who is charged with murder. Throughout the novel Guterson shows the racist part of the American society and how stereotypes affect Kabuo?s judgment because of set of beliefs about the personal attribute of Japans in San Peidro.
All types of theories assume that the attitude toward a group, Japans, is closely related to the attribute perceived as dominant traits of that group and with positive or negative evaluation of these attributes. Most of the time stereotype defined as a negative attitude toward an outgroup and the best example is the Japans in San Peidro or even Japans in America during the WW II.
Kabuo, who is charged for the murder of Carl Heine (4), is a Japans male who was born and raised in San Peidro. During the prosecution the prosecutor, Alvin Hooks, introduced a new point to the jury and that was, Kabuo did not say the whole truth to the sheriff and he got arrested about the batteries and why he changed the batteries the morning he found out that Carl Heine drowned (372-4). And Kabuo decided to not tell the sheriff about exchanging the batteries the morning Carl died. As his Wife Hatsue said, Kabuo and her talked bout the situation and decided to not tell any one about the batteries and the only explanation she had for the jury was that Kabuo said to her that ?it would not look good?(398-9).
Why would Kabuo think such a way? And tell her wife that it would not look good to tell the sheriff about what really happened that morning? The best or strongest explanation for his reaction could be the stereotype and prejudice that was going on during that period of time, beginning of WW II, in America. Since contacts between ethnic groups are determined in part by class and power differences, ethnic stereotypes can very strongly reflect class and race stereotypes and prejudices.
Furthermore, when Alvin Hooks mentioned how Carl Heine could of got killed and he said he could got of killed by the Japans Stick (122-4). Hooks is trying to convince the jury that most Japans are Stick fighters and they learn it since they are kids and relates that to the murder case and Kabuo. Stereotypes are, however, for the most part not developed but adopted.
Although, most of the second generation Japans, like Kabuo, were counted as American citizens according to the Constitutions but there were treated as aliens from other planet. This brings another important point and that is Prejudice. The stereotype and prejudice are closely related. The distinction between prejudice and stereotype parallels the common distinction between attitudes and beliefs.
stereotypes, seen as frames of references, enable to people to predict, rightly or wrongly, how members of an outgroup will behave in given situation. At the end of the novel Kabuo?s lawyer, Nel , had his last speech to the jury and he ended his day by mentioning that people should not be judged by their color of their skin or how they look different from others (416-8). And since Kabuo is a Japans American but obviously he looks different in an American white society, so Nel brought juries attention to the stereotyping and prejudice issue. And tried to explain Kabuo?s action in the morning of the Heine?s death.
Nel recite the facts as he understood them: ? the counsel for the state, has proceed on the assumption that you will be open, ladies and gentlemen, to an argument base on prejudice. He has asked you to look closely at the face of the defendant, presuming that enemy there?., if you see in him silent pride, it is the silent pride and hollowness of a veteran of war who has returned home to this. He has returned to find himself the victim of Prejudice- make no mistake about it, this trial is about prejudice- in the country he fought to defend.(417)
As once a famous Philosopher said ?stereotypes and prejudice are not separable, any where stereotypes is part of it you will find prejudice as a second part next to it.? We can see how Kabuo is one out of thousands Japans who is the victim of prejudice and because of that he has to not tell the truth and the whole to the authorities. Through out the history, not even Japans but other races were victims of stereotypes and prejudice and because of that they served years in jails and even in most cases they lost their lives over prejudice. And the best and strongest example is Nelsen Mandela the president of South Africa, he serve twenty something years in jail because of his color of his race and because of prejudice society of that time.