Chapters 17 and 18 focus on the trial. Sheriff Moran's testimony for the second time speculates that Kabuo tied the Islander (his boat) to Carl's boat and then made a quick getaway. In his haste, Kabuo inadvertently switched one of his lines with Carl's. The sheriff has five concerns that, when taken together, enable him to get a search warrant for Kabuo's boat to search for a murder weapon. During his search, Sheriff Moran finds a long-handled gaff with blood on both ends and arrests Kabuo, who has already declared his innocence.
Moran's testimony starts to solidify the prosecution's case. The information provided in his testimony may provide enough evidence — the means, the motive, and the method — for the jury to find Kabuo guilty. As the sheriff is arresting Kabuo, he notices the eyes of the accused and is convinced that Kabuo's eyes are concealing emotions; Sheriff Moran believes that the look in Kabuo's eyes mean that he is "hiding something," probably the truth.
Describing the weather during the afternoon of the trial, Guterson uses snow to comment on the attitudes of most San Piedro inhabitants. For the most part, the islanders are more accepting of the precipitation than they are of people. They prepare for the worst, not knowing whether the storm will last three hours or three days, but they do not pretend to know, because the outcome is "out of their control." When dealing with snowfall, islanders prepare for the worst, hope for the best, and accept what comes; in contrast, when the islanders view Japanese-Americans, they prepare for and expect the worst and refuse to see the best.
tire chains chains wrapped around an automobile tire and used in the winter for traction.
bowline a rope on the front of the boat used to keep the weather edge of a vessel's square sail forward when sailing.