What is the significance of the meeting between Hatsue and Ishmael? What was Ishmael's life like after the war?

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kristenfusaro eNotes educator| Certified Educator

1. There are several meetings between Hatsue and Ishmael throughout the novel. A general significance of the meetings between Hatsue and Ishmael includes the imagery of races not mixing. Hatsue and Ishmael meet in their youth because of "love," but truly, Guterson is demonstrating how World War II demanded that Japanese-Americans identify with their Japanese heritage as a result of the American ostracization, and general lack of cultural understanding and mixing. Hatsue and Ishmael meet at the end of the novel as a form of reconciliation for Ishmael; he is coming forth with his knowledge about Kabuo's innocence as a way to move on from Hatsue.

2. By the end of the trial, Kabuo had been incarcerated for nearly three months, as he states while being cross-examined by Alvin Hooks.

3. Ishmael was very broken after the war, both literally and figuratively, as he lost his arm during the war. He came back to San Piedro island to take over his late father's paper, but he managed to be more of ghost than his dead father was; he never married, he remained to himself, and lurked behind the hope that Hatsue would one day return to him. It is mentioned that he had sexual relationships with a very few other women, but he grew to despise those women and merely ended up using them to pass the time. The time between the end of the war and the end of the trial is 10 years, and it takes Ishmael those 10 years to live up to the high expectations (by exonerating Kabuo, and releasing the truth) that Hatsue had for him when she broke his heart by letter during the war.

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Snow Falling on Cedars

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