Identify the conflicting perspectives shown in Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars, Weir's The Truman Show, and in the featured clip from the movie, Elizabeth.   Film Clip-...

Identify the conflicting perspectives shown in Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars, Weir's The Truman Show, and in the featured clip from the movie, Elizabeth.  

Film Clip- 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the three work samples, conflicting perspectives drive plot, characterization, and thematic understanding.  It is through conflicting perspectives that the meaning of the work becomes evident.  In Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars, conflicting perspectives are intrinsic to the novel's narrative.  On one hand, there is the most basic set of conflicting perspectives in ascertaining whether Kabuo is guilty of murder.  This is enhanced by the conflicting perspective of prejudice that exists towards Japanese- Americans on the island following World War II.  Prejudice and hatred motivate the prosecution's desire to see Kabuo imprisoned.  At the same time, Carl experiences a set of emotionally conflicting perspectives in terms of his coverage of the trial, his own sense of resentment and anger towards the Japanese through his experiences in World War II, and the evidence he uncovers.  This conflict is enhanced with his own emotions towards Hatsue, Kabuo's wife.  The collision between how he felt at one point towards her and the reality that confronts both of them in the present is itself a set of emotional conflicting perspectives:

Sometimes at night he would squeeze his eyes shut and imagine how it might be to marry her. It did not seem so farfetched to him that they might move to some other place in the world where this would be possible. He liked to think about being with Hatsue in some place like Switzerland or Italy or France. He gave his whole soul to love; he allowed himself to believe that his feelings for Hatsue had been somehow preordained. He had been meant to meet her on the beach as a child and then to pass his life with her.

This vision of subjective love collides with the reality in which choices, history, and social attitudes play a determinant function.  The conflicting perspectives that exist within the characters help to drive plot as well as the novel's themes. Conflicting perspectives underscore how people interact with one another and how they view their own subjectivity, appropriating the world in accordance to these conflicting realities.

Conflicting perspectives are evident in Elizabeth.  In the scene featured, Elizabeth is forced to confront the conflicting perspectives within her world. On one hand, the threat of the Spanish Armada is one intense perspective.  It is a perspective that seeks to obliterate Elizabeth's perspective as English monarch. At the same time, the scene's exposition clearly establishes that Elizabeth must battle the conflicting perspective of collusion between some of her own subjects/ advisers and the Spanish in the form of the "English enterprise." Elizabeth clearly recognizes that the conflicting perspectives present between the Spanish desire to remove her from power and obliterate English presence on the seas and people within her own dominion that doubt her capacity as leader are threats that must be met with complete strength and unequivocal force.  It is in this light where Elizabeth challenges the Spanish emissary and threatens the conflicting perspective that Spain offers with her own defiant position:

I too can command the wind, sir. I have such a hurricane in me that should strip Spain bare if you try me…Tell [your king] if he wishes to shake his little fist at us we’re ready to give him such a bite he’ll wish he’d kept his hands in his pocket…

In the scene, Queen Elizabeth responds to a perspective that provides conflict to her own with intensity and force.  At the same time, such a declaration that internally exists within the protagonist.  When Elizabeth suggests that she has a "hurricane in her," it belies the demure construction of women during the time. It is a reflection of the conflicting perspective that Queen Elizabeth experienced throughout her time between the desire to be an effective ruler as well as challenging conventional notions of what it means to be a woman.

In Weir's The Truman Show, conflicting perspectives provide the film's focus. The most overwhelming of these is the fact that Truman lives his life unaware that he is watched on television by millions of people. The conflict is in his desire to live life in the belief that he has freedom and autonomy against a social construction that orders his every action and thought.  In this way, the basis for conflicting perspectives sets the entire plot in motion. Christof's opening monologue reflects this paradigm:

We've become bored with watching actors give us phony emotions. We are tired of pyrotechnics and special effects. While the world he inhabits is, in some respects, counterfeit, there's nothing fake about Truman himself. No scripts, no cue cards. It isn't always Shakespeare, but it's genuine. It's a life.

As the film progresses, this perspective predicated upon conflict becomes pointed: Truman's desire to escape vs. Christof's desire to keep him on Seahaven.  The film's other conflicting perspectives fall into this paradigm. Truman's relationship with his parents, his marriage to Meryl, his friendship with Marlon, as well as his love of Sylvia are all reflective of this perspective where conflict is inevitable.  At the end, Truman's actions speak to the resolution of this conflicting perspective.  Freedom and personal choice overcome design and external control.

In each of the works, the presence of conflicting perspectives is critical.  The conflict within perspectives help to establish how characters react to themselves and the world around them.  Characters develop and grow as well as themes emerge as a result of the conflicting perspectives within each work.

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Snow Falling on Cedars

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