Summary and Analysis Chapters 29-30


The trial ends in Chapter 29, with both lawyers presenting their closing arguments without interruption by Ishmael Chambers. The judge instructs the jury, carefully explaining the charge of murder in the first degree. In Chapter 30, we hear from members of the jury as they deliberate.

In his closing argument, Alvin Hooks presents a scenario that is indeed consistent with the facts, but is of course, incorrect; however, his presentation is not only plausible but also extremely believable. His version makes sense. Then Nels Gudmundsson presents Kabuo's side, taking the narrative a step further. Nels comments upon human nature and prejudice; he wants the jurors to look beyond race, to put the intense feelings of World War II behind them.

Nels provides the moral code of the book as he urges the jurors to look at the facts logically and not emotionally. As he is delivering his closing argument, he is also presenting Guterson's views on racism, prejudice, and the lingering effects they have on not just the island of San Piedro but on the country as a whole. The ideas that Nels leaves with the jury are the ideas Guterson wants to leave with readers — his call to action for all people to examine their own lives and their own actions and do the right thing, the reasonable thing, the one thing that will result in justice — treating one another fairly and objectively.

The jury deliberations provide a means of rehashing and reviewing the testimony. The members of the jury are embattled — eleven versus one. As they attempt to re-create the past, they weigh the evidence, trying to come to the truth, yet only one person is really willing to contemplate "reasonable doubt." Alexander Van Ness recognizes that Kabuo was a liar who may be guilty of something, but he's not convinced that Kabuo is a murderer.

Kabuo certainly did have a jury of his peers, if his peers are represented by all of the inhabitants of San Piedro: Eleven out of twelve islanders do not trust the Japanese, just as eleven out of twelve jurors do not trust Kabuo Miyamoto. At six o'clock, the jury retired for the evening, as torn and divided as Ishmael Chambers.


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