Study Guide

Snow Falling on Cedars Chapter 9

By David Guterson

Chapter 9

  • Now we're back in the courtroom with Ishmael watching Hatsue. The jurors have come back in after their break, and Carl Heine's mother, Etta, takes the stand.
  • Etta Heine is, to put it mildly, prejudiced and unlikeable. We get some background on her, and she relays the story of a land dispute between her family and the Miyamotos.
  • It seems that Zenhichi Miyamoto had approached Carl Heine, Sr. to ask if he would sell seven acres of his strawberry farmlands to him. Etta had been against it, since she was rabidly prejudiced against the Japanese, but the elder Carl Heine (who did not share his wife's xenophobia) made the deal.
  • Oh, one tricky thing, though: the Miyamotos were on a payment plan for the land and—because they weren't born in the U.S.—couldn't get an official deed. Carl was going to hold it for them until the kids (who were born in the U.S.) could take possession legally.
  • Now we're back in the courtroom, and the judge is explaining the legal mumbo jumbo that prevented the Miyamotos from being on an official deed for the land they purchased. Alvin Hooks, the prosecutor, asks Etta to explain why the Miyamotos no longer own the land they had purchased.
  • As we already mentioned, the plan had been for the Miyamoto kids to take over the deed officially when they came of age. However (as you already know), in 1942 Kabuo's family got sent off to the internment camps... which definitely threw a wrench into that plan.
  • In relaying this whole history in her testimony, Etta recalls being extremely offensive and aggressive to Zenhichi when he came to make arrangements for the land before leaving for the internment camp.
  • While the Miyamotos were away, Carl Sr. died and Etta ended up selling all the land (including the Miyamotos' piece) to Ole Jurgensen. Since the Miyamotos ended up missing their last payments (because they were, you know, in prison) and weren't on the deed, Etta had no qualms about just sending them back their equity and making the sale. Hmm, okay, we think we've spotted a motive for Kabuo Miyamoto to have a beef with the Heines...