Snow Falling on Cedars : Chapter 17-18
Summary of Chapter Seventeen
The snowstorm on the island is causing accidents everywhere, and traffic has come to a standstill: “a grimness set in” (p. 323). When the trial resumes, the sheriff gives four pieces of rope from Kabuo's boat as evidence. The rope shows that at some point the night of Carl's death, Kabuo's boat was tied up to Carl's.
Commentary on Chapter Seventeen
The most telling detail of this chapter is that the prosecutor asks the sheriff why he started to investigate Kabuo, and he answers that Etta Heine put him on the trail when he asked if Carl had any enemies. Etta has projected her hatred of Kabuo and made it into Carl's hatred.
Summary of Chapter Eighteen
This is a flashback to the moment Sheriff Art Moran asks Judge Lew Fielding for a search warrant for Kabuo's boat, giving the reasons for suspicion of foul play, largely framed by Etta's story, as well as the wound on Carl's head. The Judge says he does not trust Etta Heine, but he allows the sheriff to look for a murder weapon on Kabuo's boat. Just before the sheriff arrives, Kabuo replaces a battery on the Islander and nervously sees a bad omen of fifty seagulls perched on his boat. The sheriff comes to search Kabuo's boat and finds a possible murder weapon: a long fishing gaff with a barbed steel hook on it. It has blood on the butt end. The sheriff arrests Kabuo.
Commentary on Chapter Eighteen
The chapter reveals that the Judge is aware that Etta Heine is not trustworthy and that the sheriff is playing Sherlock Holmes and acting hastily. It also reveals the pervasive sense of fate in the book, with the large number of seagulls as an omen of disaster.