1. Hatsue questions whether identity is a question of geography or blood. The United States has been and continues to be home to many immigrants. Oftentimes, parents in these families tend to cling to the traditions and beliefs of their original country while their American-born children embrace American ideals. Create a collage that shows in which ways you identify yourself by your ethnic heritage and which ways you identify yourself by where you live. Present the project to your class, explaining whether you believe place or heritage is more important in forming your identity and why.
2. Hold a town meeting of sorts where Ishmael and Hatsue's romantic relationship is on trial. Choose one character from the novel to portray. When it is your turn to speak, state whether or not the relationship is acceptable. Defend your position as you believe that character would. Be prepared to debate your position.
3. Guterson's novel is rich in detail about things that are common on Puget Sound. Create a display of things that are unique to the area in which you live. How would these things help outsiders understand you? How do they help you understand yourself? If you were unfamiliar with the items in your display, how might you view these things differently?
4. Record the images you have of World War II based on movies, books, studies, and conversations you've seen or had. Then collect photos from World War II. Do the photos change your perceptions or strengthen them? What role does propaganda play in the photos and how does that work to mold your impressions? Do the photos change your perception of the role of race in this war? Present your findings to your class.
5. Assume the role of one of the parents in Snow Falling on Cedars. Write letters to three other characters in the story that explain your understanding of life on San Piedro after the war.
6. Guterson makes extensive use of symbolism throughout Snow Falling on Cedars. Draw a picture that uses symbolism to illustrate one of the main themes of the story. Choose from one of the following: forbidden love, racial tension, internment, war, or the struggle of trying to live in two cultures at once.
7. Imagine that you are Hatsue or Ishmael and that you had married. Today, you are a senior citizen. Looking back over the years, write an article that addresses some of the challenges you've faced as a couple. How well has your marriage survived? How have your children been treated? Were you able to stay in San Piedro? How do you feel about yourself and your decision looking back? What was your relationship with your parents like after your marriage? What have you had to give up to be in this marriage? What have you gained by staying in this marriage? Would you make the same choice again?
8. Ironically, Etta Heine endures very little prejudice as a German during World War II, while the Japanese suffer considerably. Research the attitude of Americans toward different ethnic groups during the 1930s and 1940s, especially World War II. Write a paper that examines racial relations in the United States across several ethnic groups during this time frame. Discuss how your findings change or confirm your perception of the characters in Snow Falling on Cedars.