Table of Contents | Message Board | Downloadable/Printable Version
1. How do religious beliefs affect Hatsue, Kabuo, and Ishmael? How are their actions affected or not affected by what they believe? Do they find solace or tumult in their beliefs? Compare how God is different for these characters?
2. What do the chapters of Fujiko tell the reader about Japanese culture and how the Japanese felt about their relationship to the hakujin? What influence does Fujiko’s speech have on Hatsue? What does Fujiko’s intense anger when she finds out about Ishmael reveal?
3. Several times we hear how Kabuo’s unreadable face? Why? How do people react to this? How is this associated with Kabuo ethnicity?
4. In Chapter 15, Guterson describes the journey to the Manzanar and the conditions at the interment camp through Fujiko’s eyes. What does Fujiko’s perspective tell us? How would Hatsue’s perspective been different? Why does Guterson use Fujiko’s character in this chapter?
5. Do you believe Fujiko when she writes that the crime of Ishmael and Hatsue is the concealment of their relationship not their attraction? Is this contrary to what she has told her daughters in regard how they should behave amidst the hakujin?
6. Before Ishmael finds the shipping records that prove Kabuo’s innocence, how strong is the evidence against him? How is this evidence tainted by Alvin Hooks attempts to use any racial prejudices the jury might have?
7. Though this book is arguably about the male characters, we learn a lot about the female characters as well. What roles do Hatsue, Fujiko, Etta, and Susan Marie play in the novel? How are their roles alike and different?
8. Guterson takes great care in discussing Nels Gudmundsson’s physical and emotional ailments caused by the natural process of aging. How is Nels’ reaction similar or different than the reactions of Kabuo, Carl, Ishmael, and Horace to their physical and emotional wounds caused by the experiences of war?
1. Explain the last statement in the novel: “accident ruled every corner of the universe except the chambers of the human heart.”
2. Discuss the symbolic significance of the snow throughout the novel.
3. Compare the history of Japanese-Americans in the United States to Guterson’s fictional account.