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Free Study Guide-Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson-Book Notes
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The trial brought back many memories for Ishmael. For almost 4 years, Ishmael and Hatsue met inside the cedar tree. They talked, kissed, and touched each other. Ishmael imagined marrying her and moving to some place where it might be possible for the two of them to be together. Hatsue had many moods; there were times when she was cold and distant. She told him that she was taught to control her emotions, and it didn’t mean she was withholding love from him. Yet, Ishmael still believed he loved her more deeply than she loved him.

He learned of Hatsue’s religious side. Hatsue believed that a person should act carefully because each action had a consequence on the soul’s future. She anguished over meeting him and deceiving her parents. She believed that God was personal and “only she could know what God wanted from her.” She worried about her motive because it was very important. What was her motive in concealing her relationship with Ishmael from her parents, she wondered.

They pretended not to be involved at school. She taught him how to act detached, but his detachment always appeared practiced. He remembers her being crowned Strawberry Princess in 1941. Eventually, they were high school seniors.

One day, Hatsue told him how she was told to marry a boy of her own kind. How she felt that there relationship was evil because she was living a secret life, betraying her family. Ishmael tried to tell her the world was evil, not their love.

The war that was going on seemed far away, but it crept into Ishmael’s thoughts.


The relationship between Ishmael and Hatsue becomes a source of joy and pain for both of them. Knowing that the community and especially their parents would not approve, for almost 4 years, they secretly meet in the cedar tree. The deception is particularly hard on Hatsue, who believes that each action has a consequence on her soul. We learn that religion, moral beliefs, and cultural upbringing influence their relationship.

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Free Study Guide-Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson-Book Summary


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