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Free Study Guide-Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson-Book Notes
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Sheriff Moran approaches Judge Lew Fielding for a warrant for Kabuo Miyamoto’s boat and possibly Kabuo’s house. Sheriff Moran has five reasons for wanting a warrant:

Kabuo worked the same waters as Carl the night Carl died.

Etta Heine stated that Kabuo and Carl were enemies because of a dispute over land.

A piece of mooring line was on Carl’s boat showing he could have been boarded. The sheriff wants to look at Kabuo’s mooring lines.

Ole Jurgensen claims Carl and Kabuo both wanted to buy his property. Ole states that Kabuo was angry when he found out he had sold the land to Carl.

Horace Whaley, the coroner, stated that the wound on Carl’s head look liked blows made by Japanese soldiers in the war, a kendo blow.

Judge Fielding is hesitant to sign the warrant. Fielding believes that Horace’s statement is merely coincidental and he does not trust Etta Heine because she is hateful. Also, there were at least 50 gill-netters out that night and each of them just as contentious as the next if another fisherman is cutting into his fish. However, Judge Fielding does give more consideration to Ole’s comments. The sheriff produces an affidavit and a warrant. Judge Fielding signs it but only for Kabuo’s boat not his house. Sheriff Moran may look for the murder weapon and nothing else. Judge Fielding also reminds Sheriff Moran to execute the warrant properly.

San Piedro fishermen believe in signs, omens, and portents and avoided actions that might bring bad weather or bring harm their equipment. They dare not harm a seagull for they are inhabited by the spirits of men lost at sea. Kabuo doesn’t believe in these omens, but when 30 or 40 seagulls perched on his boat, he began to wonder.

He slid the battery he had been carrying into the battery well, and then he washed the gull droppings from his deck. One pearl gray and white winged gull perched arrogantly on his port gunnel watching him. Kabuo turned his hose up full force and aimed it at the bird. Caught by surprise, the gull smashed against the gunnel of a moored boat. As Kabuo watched the bird dying, Sheriff Moran and Deputy Martinson appeared with the warrant.

Kabuo asked them why they wanted to search his boat and how long it would take. When the Sheriff told him they believed he was responsible for Carl’s death, Kabuo dropped the hose and stated he didn’t kill Carl. The sheriff and deputy boarded and began to their search.

Deputy Martinson noted the size D-6 batteries. They also found a 3 and ½ foot gaff with a barbed steel hook. There was blood on the butt end. Kabuo explained he used it for gaffing, or cutting, fish and that the fish blood gets on his hands, as any fisherman will attest to, which is why blood was on the butt end.

Sheriff Moran told Kabuo he should go home and wait until he hears from him or otherwise he would have to arrest Kabuo. Kabuo states he can’t afford not to fish and that he would fish and come right home.

Sheriff Moran had successfully played Sherlock Holmes. He had not expected to find that Carl Heine had drowned. Now, he believed that for the first time in his career he had a murder. Horace Whaley would not be able to ridicule him now. Moran looked into Kabuo’s eyes, but he could read nothing. Kabuo’s eyes were those of a man hiding something. Sheriff Moran arrests Kabuo for the death of Carl Heine.


On a small island where it seems almost everyone has some racial prejudice, we find another example (besides Art Chambers) of racial tolerance and acceptance in Judge Fielding. His reluctance to sign the warrant and his admonition that it be executed properly is based on the facts of the case as well as his personal assessment of those providing that evidence. He distrusts Etta Heine’s statement because she is hateful. He also finds Horace Whaley’s statement coincidental. Fielding is a fitting example of objective justice coupled with an understanding of human nature and behavior.

In this chapter, we also learn one of the motivation behind Art Moran’s actions. He remembers Horace Whaley ridiculing his detective skills. With the evidence he has gathered, Moran believes he, like Sherlock Holmes, has solved the crime. Now, with a man arrested, Whaley can ridicule him no more.

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