Title-How does the writer use weather and environment in the novel? Short (1100 words) essay for exam practice.

Essay by capslockA-, February 2004

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The novel is set on San Piedro Island, a small island north of Puget Sound in the Washington state area. The island setting is fitting in several ways. The people of San Piedro Island have everything they need on the island; they are self-sufficient. Additionally, on a small island like San Piedro everyone knows everyone else. This works well in a novel where history and relationships are integral to the story. The islanders are not simply neighbors, but employers and employees, family and friends, lovers and enemies. The relationships between the island citizens are intimate because of their proximity to each other. Arthur Chambers, the owner of the local island newspaper, finds the island lifestyle to be good and bad, good because people are careful not to step on each other's toes, but bad because many feelings are repressed to avoid creating tension and strife. But the reality is that tension is exactly what exists between the two races that inhabit the island.

Both white and Japanese races have everything they need to sustain their own culture and way of life on the island, but each race is isolated and even seeks isolation from the other, just as the island is isolated from the mainland because of the surround waters. Guterson uses particularly bleak descriptions of the island to make it seem a remote place, though it does have a certain beauty in some descriptions.

The young Ishmael and Hatsue end up in the cedar tree for the first time because a rainstorm drives them there. For Ishmael and Hatsue, the cedar tree is a sanctuary from society and the forces of prejudice that attempt to keep them apart. The smell of the cedars and the surrounding forest is very, very strong and Ishmael relates the smell to his experiences...