Snow Falling on Cedars


David Guterson

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Snow Falling on Cedars Characters

Ishmael Chambers

Ishmael Chambers is the owner and sole reporter of San Piedro’s only newspaper, the San Piedro Review. Ishmael’s father, Arthur Chambers, founded the newspaper, and Ishmael often compares himself to his late father… read analysis of Ishmael Chambers

Hatsue Miyamoto (Hatsue Imada)

Hatsue Miyamoto is the wife of Kabuo Miyamoto, the man accused of Carl Heine’s murder. She is known on San Piedro for her remarkable beauty. Hatsue was first Ishmael Chambers’s friend, and… read analysis of Hatsue Miyamoto (Hatsue Imada)

Kabuo Miyamoto

Kabuo Miyamoto is a fisherman and the husband of Hatsue Miyamoto. Kabuo is accused of the murder of Carl Heine, another local fisherman. Kabuo struggles with anger and the power of fate throughout… read analysis of Kabuo Miyamoto

Carl Heine, Jr.

The fisherman around whose murder trial the novel is centered. Carl Heine was friends with Kabuo Miyamoto, the accused, in childhood. The two grew distant after the war, due to Carl’s Mother, Etta’s… read analysis of Carl Heine, Jr.

Carl Heine, Sr.

Carl Heine, Jr.’s father. He died of a heart attack in 1944. Carl Sr. owned and worked land before his death. He was a good, principled man who—unlike his wife, Etta—did not succumb… read analysis of Carl Heine, Sr.
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Etta Heine

Carl Heine, Sr.’s wife and Carl Heine Jr.’s mother. She is hateful and prejudiced against people of Japanese descent. She is from Bavaria and still speaks with an accent. Etta lived on San… read analysis of Etta Heine

Ole Jurgensen

The man to whom Etta Heine sold Carl Sr.’s strawberry fields—including the Miyamoto family’s share of seven acres—after the war. Ole doesn’t seem to have much against Japanese people, but he’s not sure what… read analysis of Ole Jurgensen

Arthur Chambers

Ishmael Chambers’s late father. He was the founder and sole reporter of San Piedro’s only newspaper, the San Piedro Review. Before his death from cancer, he was a highly regarded member of the… read analysis of Arthur Chambers

Fujiko Imada

Hatsue’s mother. She was sent to the U.S. to marry Hisao Imada, who is much poorer than he’d led her to believe. Fujiko has had a difficult life, but she’s worked hard to… read analysis of Fujiko Imada

Mrs. Shigemura

A woman with whom young Hatsue studies traditional Japanese culture. Like Fujiko, Mrs. Shigemura emphasizes the differences between the Japanese and the hakujin (white people). Hatsue often thinks back to what Mrs. Shigemura taught… read analysis of Mrs. Shigemura

Zenhichi Miyamoto

Kabuo Miyamoto’s father. Zenhichi trains Kabuo in the art of Kendo and teaches him about the family’s Samurai past. He buys seven acres of land from Carl Heine, Sr. before the war, but is… read analysis of Zenhichi Miyamoto

Philip Milholland

The radioman that records the S.S. Corona’s radio transmissions the night of Carl’s death. His notes from this night provide evidence that Carl drowned when the large freighter’s wake threw him from his… read analysis of Philip Milholland

Josiah Gillanders

The president of the San Piedro Gill-Netters Association. He testifies at Kabuo’s trial, stating that a man would only board another man’s boat in the event of an emergency. It would be ludicrous, he… read analysis of Josiah Gillanders
Minor Characters
Susan Marie Heine
Carl Heine Jr.’s wife. She is a beautiful woman who had a very active sexual relationship with her husband. The prosecutor, Alvin Hooks, sees Susan Marie as a valuable witness, as her fetching physique will be very persuasive to the males of the jury.
Helen Chambers
Arthur Chambers’s wife and Ishmael Chambers’s mother. Like her late husband, she seeks to uncover the larger truths that lie beneath plain, unexamined facts. Helen sees how bitter and unhappy her son is and encourages him to move on with his life.
Judge Llewellyn Fielding
The judge in Kabuo Miyamoto’s murder trial. He’s very tired throughout the trial and worries that he hasn’t performed to the best of his abilities. He reminds the jury of the importance of reaching a verdict “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Art Moran
The County Sheriff. He and his deputy, Abel Martinson, discovered Carl Jr.’s corpse, and he testifies at Kabuo’s trial. Moran has some animosity towards the coroner, Horace Whaley, who mocked him for “playing detective.”
Abel Martinson
Art Moran’s deputy. He and Art were the ones who found Carl Jr.'s corpse.
Horace Whaley
San Piedro’s coroner. It’s his job to objectively determine the cause of Carl Heine’s murder, but he deposits his own prejudiced beliefs onto his autopsy report. He testifies in Kabuo’s trial.
Dr. Sterling Whitman
The hematologist who analyzes the blood found on Kabuo’s boat.
Nels Gudmundsson
Kabuo Miyamoto’s defense attorney. He feels sympathetic towards Kabuo, even after he learns that Kabuo had been initially untruthful with him regarding his whereabouts and interaction with Carl Heine the night of Carl’s death. He appears old and awkward in court.
Alvin Hooks
The prosecutor in Kabuo Miyamoto’s murder trial. He uses racist rhetoric to appeal to the jury’s inherent prejudice against Japanese people.
Ed Soames
The bailiff in Judge Fielding’s courtroom.
Hisao Imada
Hatsue’s father. He is a poor strawberry sharecropper but cares for his family. Hisao is sent to a work camp in Montana before his family is deported to Manzanar internment camp.
Sumiko Imada
Hatsue’s sister. While the family is at Manzanar internment camp, Sumiko intercepts a love letter Ishmael sent to Hatsue. Sumiko brings the letter to their mother, Fujiko. Sumiko’s action precipitates Hatsue’s eventual decision to break off her relationship with Ishmael.
Alexander Van Ness
The sole member of Kabuo Miyamoto’s jury who is on the fence about Kabuo’s guilt. Van Ness repeatedly challenges the jury to see the extent of reasonable doubt present in the case against Kabuo, but they are unable to see past their prejudices.
Evan Powell
The chief petty officer of the lighthouse. Ishmael initially visits Powell to investigate records for a story on the snowstorm.
The radioman at the lighthouse who helps Ishmael with the coast guard’s records. He tells Ishmael that Milholland was transferred the day after Carl’s death.
Army First Sergeant Victor Maples
The sergeant who trained Kabuo. He witnesses Kabuo’s kendo expertise and ends up studying the Japanese martial arts under Kabuo. He testifies at Kabuo’s trial, offering his opinion that Kabuo is capable of killing another man.
Mr. Oshiro and Robert Nishi
Friends of the Imada family. Hisao Imada consults with them when tensions between the Japanese community and the white San Piedro islanders escalate after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
The Ichiyama Family
The Ichiyamas own a theater in town. They have a negative interaction with Otto Willets, a white islander, when they accidentally leave their theater lights on during a blackout.
Otto Willets
A fisherman who unscrews the Ichiyama family’s theater lights when they leave them on during a blackout.
Eric Bledsoe
A soldier Ishmael fights with during WWII. He watches Eric bleed to death.
Leonard George
A gill-netter who testifies at Kabuo’s trial.