Snow Falling on Cedars

by

David Guterson

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Arthur Chambers Character Analysis

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 island community. Before becoming a reporter, Arthur fought in World War I and later worked as a logger. In life, Arthur was well-read and a lifelong learner. He believed that truth isn’t immediately apparent—often, people have to look deeply and carefully to discern truths that lurk in the gray areas of life. Arthur tried to make his son, Ishmael, see the truth in this way, too, but his son was obstinate and unconvinced of his father’s philosophies on truth versus facts. After Pearl Harbor, while other most islanders became very prejudiced against people of Japanese descent, Arthur wrote newspaper stories that drew on the positive contributions of the island’s Japanese community.

Arthur Chambers Quotes in Snow Falling on Cedars

The Snow Falling on Cedars quotes below are all either spoken by Arthur Chambers or refer to Arthur Chambers. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Snow Falling on Cedars published in 1995.
Chapter 4 Quotes

An unflagging loyalty to his profession and its principles had made Arthur, over the years, increasingly deliberate in his speech and actions, and increasingly exacting regarding the truth in even his most casual reportage. He was, his son remembered, morally meticulous, and though Ishmael might strive to emulate this, there was nevertheless the matter of the war—this matter of the arm he’d lost—that made such scrupulosity difficult.

Related Characters: Ishmael Chambers, Arthur Chambers
Page Number: 34-35
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13 Quotes

“Not every fact is just a fact,” he added. “It’s all a kind of…balancing act. A juggling of pins, all kinds of pins, that’s what journalism is about.”

“That isn’t journalism,” Ishmael answered. “Journalism is just the facts.”

[…]

“But which facts?” Arthur asked him. “Which facts do we print, Ishmael?”

Related Characters: Ishmael Chambers (speaker), Arthur Chambers (speaker)
Page Number: 188
Explanation and Analysis:
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Arthur Chambers Character Timeline in Snow Falling on Cedars

The timeline below shows where the character Arthur Chambers appears in Snow Falling on Cedars. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Ishmael’s newfound love of books led him to pursue journalism as a career. Ishmael’s father, Arthur, had also been a journalist, though he was a logger when he was Ishmael’s... (full context)
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
From this point on, Arthur committed himself fully to observing and reporting on San Piedro, knowing that doing so gave... (full context)
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Ishmael stops daydreaming about Arthur and redirects his thoughts to the morning of Carl’s death. The morning of September 16,... (full context)
Chapter 12
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
...Ishmael remembers that Hatsue was crowned the Strawberry Princess at the 1941 Strawberry Festival. Ishmael’s father, Arthur Chambers, had covered the event for the local paper. Ishmael watched as Arthur took... (full context)
Chapter 13
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
...the Amity Harbor Buddhist Chapel when she hears about the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Hatsue’s father consults with his friends Mr. Oshiro and Mr. Nishi over the phone. He learns from... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Ishmael’s father publishes the paper’s first war extra. It reads “ISLAND DEFENSE. SET!” and describes the steps... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Hatsue approaches Ishmael as he reads his father’s war extra. Hatsue tells Ishmael that her family’s bank accounts have been frozen—they have no... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Later in the week, Ishmael helps his father with the paper, taking phone calls. The county sheriff calls, concerned about Japanese farmers keeping... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Arthur also writes a story about men who had joined the “civilian defense auxiliary fire force.”... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Arthur continues to be selective in “which facts” he publishes, actively drawing his readers’ attention to... (full context)
Chapter 14
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
...Japanese descent had eight days to prepare to leave.” The Japanese islanders prepare to depart. Arthur runs multiple stories in the paper sympathizing with their predicament, and gets a phone call... (full context)
Chapter 22
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
...is lost in thought. Ed Soames thinks that Ishmael is “a strange bird.” Ed and Arthur Chambers had been pals, “but the boy was not someone you could speak to.” (full context)
Chapter 24
...to understand the hardships he’s endured. He compares the differences in their grieving processes when Arthur had died. His mother’s grief had made her “cold,” but she’s still sought happiness. Ishmael,... (full context)
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
...connections, to enjoy the sensations of living. Ishmael, she observes, has gone “numb.” Even Ishmael’s father, who’d fought at Bellau Wood, had managed to move on with his life. (full context)
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Chance vs. Choice Theme Icon
...and thinks about the baseball pennant collection he’d had as a boy. He and his father had both liked baseball and would listen to games on the radio together. (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
Ishmael’s thoughts turn to his father’s death. Arthur had pancreatic cancer, and had died in Seattle. Over 100 islanders had turned... (full context)
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
...of “disgust” and lack of “respect.” He used sex to avoid his unhappiness and loneliness. Arthur informed him of his sickness soon after these escapades, and Ishmael hasn’t been with a... (full context)
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
...Review that Hatsue asked him to write—though not for the noble reasons that would’ve motivated Arthur Chambers to do so. Of course, Arthur would’ve also shown the coast guard’s logs to... (full context)
Chapter 30
Racism and Prejudice Theme Icon
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
...the return of the electricity with Nels, who tells him how much he liked Ishmael’s father. “Arthur was one admirable man,” says Nels. Ishmael agrees and parts ways with Nels. (full context)
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Chance vs. Choice Theme Icon
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
...how unfair Kabuo’s trial was. She tells Ishmael he needs to write about it “in [Arthur’s] newspaper.” Ishmael says it’s not “[his] father’s newspaper.” It’s his newspaper. He tells Hatsue he’ll... (full context)
Chapter 31
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
...to listen for pipes thawing. His mother goes to bed and Ishmael sits in his father’s study, looking over his father’s books. There are a lot of virtuous, philosophizing volumes on... (full context)
Facts vs. Truth Theme Icon
Ishmael continues to reflect on his father’s life and legacy. Arthur had gone into the logging profession backed by thoughts of grandeur,... (full context)
Duty vs. Desire Theme Icon
Arthur was meticulous in everything he did, and he acknowledged the gray areas of life. This... (full context)
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
Ishmael recalls when he’d gone with his father to cover the Strawberry Festival. It was a beautiful, picturesque day. His father took a... (full context)
Chapter 32
The Psychological Impact of War  Theme Icon
...a.m. She says that Hatsue is there for him. Hatsue and Ishmael talk in his father’s study. She tells him how much he looks like his father. Then, she tells him... (full context)