Snow Falling on Cedars : Chapter 29-30
Summary of Chapter Twenty-Nine
Alvin Hooks makes his concluding argument that Kabuo is a cold-blooded murderer, driven by hatred and jealousy. Nels Gudmundsson makes his summary by bringing out the facts and showing there is not enough evidence to say a murder was committed. It is all circumstantial evidence and hearsay. He states clearly, “this trial is about prejudice” (p. 531). Since there is reasonable doubt, the jury cannot convict. The judge gives the jury instructions and they file out.
Commentary on Chapter Twenty-Nine
The final and noble speech of Nels Gudmundsson is for human reason and justice, over prejudice and fate. Humans must make fair and moral choices to continue to be human. There is not enough evidence to convict Kabuo.
Summary of Chapter Thirty
Ishmael, watching Hatsue in court, is still in love with her and feels he could be whole again if he had her. He is aware of the notes in his pocket and his own choice to turn the evidence over or keep it. Nels had spoken of choice and justice, but Ishmael believes in the caprice of fate. In the lobby of the court, he offers Hisao and Hatsue a ride home but says nothing of the notes he carries. Hatsue again asks him to use his newspaper for justice. He realizes he does not know how to act, but he begins to feel a reckless stirring in his heart.
The jury is hung at this point: one man has reasonable doubt while the others are certain Kabuo is guilty. We hear them argue among themselves the definition of reasonable doubt. It comes down to a distrust of Kabuo rather than a rational decision. He is a hair away from being convicted.
Commentary on Chapter Thirty
Moral decisions must be made—Ishmael's and the jury's—and both are hesitating, acting from their lower rather than higher instincts. There is hope, however, as Ishmael watches the wild storm and feels something new and reckless coming into his heart instead of the habitual numbness. The jury, also, has at least one good man who understands they do not have enough objective evidence. The others are going by their emotions and prejudice.