Summary and Analysis Chapter 22


A snowstorm shuts down the entire island as the prosecution rests its case, and Guterson uses Chapter 22 to illustrate how islanders react to the weather, as well as to provide striking similarities between the primary male characters. Although this chapter doesn't further the plot much — Ishmael's speaking with Hatsue is the highlight — Guterson uses the weather to advance important aspects of character and thematic development, as well as to develop aspects of symbolism.

Ed Soames thinks to himself that "the boy [Ishmael] was not someone you could speak to," and thus Ishmael, like Carl and Kabuo, is a veteran who returns to San Piedro unable to talk after the war. Ironically, Ishmael earns his living through his words. Ishmael also wants to feel the pain where his arm used to be, just as Kabuo wants to suffer for the offenses he committed during the war.

After court is recessed for the day, Ishmael's reporter's instincts take over, and he is out taking pictures of the storm and its effects for the paper because the damage that the storm inflicted on the island is definitely newsworthy. Ishmael's decision to talk to Charlie Toval before running a picture of what may be his run-down, overturned car provides insight into Ishmael's character. Ishmael doesn't want to embarrass Charlie Toval. This detail, almost an afterthought, reveals that Ishmael, though his manner often suggests otherwise, is not entirely uncaring.

The fallen snow removed the borders between property, and no one can distinguish differences below the surface. This covering is a commentary on people and their differences. Ishmael ponders two questions: Do people really fight over land and borders? And, do people really kill for them? Of course, the answer is yes. These are some of the fundamental questions of warfare.

The snow in this chapter is beautiful yet deadly and serves as a metaphor for Hatsue, or at least Ishmael's perception of her. During his wanderings, Ishmael encounters the Imadas and offers them a ride. In the car, Ishmael tries to read Hatsue's eyes. Hatsue talks about Kabuo's trial being unfair, but Ishmael uses her words to strike at her for what she did to him: "You're right — people don't have to be unfair."

Ishmael believes that Hatsue was unfair to him for not giving their relationship a chance to work. Now he realizes that the trial and his newspaper may provide him the means back into Hatsue's life. Gradually his anger toward Hatsue had "dried up and blown away," yet nothing took its place. Perhaps, Ishmael muses, if Kabuo is taken from Hatsue in a manner similar to the way Hatsue was taken from him, she may find her way back into his life. This notion sets the stage for an important decision that Ishmael will have to make.


propitious advantageous.

séance a spiritualist meeting to receive spirit communications.

solicitous meticulously careful.

machete a large-bladed, heavy knife.

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