Anna-Lotta Lindström , pp. 27. Inst. för humaniora/Dept. of the Humanities, 2002.
"Different or Diversed Identities? A Question of Cultural Articulation in Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars" deals with how cultural identities are expressed in David Guterson's highly acclaimed novel. My reading of Snow Falling on Cedars left me with a stimulating ambivalence, since I sensed that despite its eloquent and elaborate narrative, the voice in the novel was somewhat engaged in producing prejudiced views about cultural identities. For my investigation of the novel I chose a post-colonial approach, to be precise, Homi Bhabha's theory about how cultural aspects are articulated in texts. According to Bhabha authors and theorists have, through history, expressed cultural diversities in their texts and empirically used the term to show universal "truths" about culturas. Homi Bhabha thus recommends the articulation of cultural difference, which is when cultural aspects emerge from not only the cultural dominant, but also from the culturally marginalized. Since Homi Bhabha's concept of cultural difference seeks to renounce universal knowledge of culture and therefore fractures traditional binary oppositions, I sought to use the deconstructive method associated with Jacque Derrida, in order to see how cultural identities are articulated in the novel. Hence, my analysis of the narrative structure not only demonstrates the binary oppositions West-East, it consciously disrupts them to make the reader recognize their deceptiveness. Illustrating that these oppositions become unstable in terms of defining identities as culturally superior or inferior the novel can be said to articulate cultural differences. With its unstable binaries the novel questions people's narrow-mindedness and observes similarities between individuals. However, in another sense the novel entails an after-taste of unintentional prejudiced views. Thus, I have tried to show how the novel articulates identities with a narrative of cultural diversity, since it does not only keep the binaries intact by letting one side dominate the cultural, but also create a victimization of the Japanese people. The descriptions of the ethnic individual are built on universal "knowledge" and the narrative indicates a preference for ethnic purity. Moreover, there is an exotic portrayal of the Japanese, while the Westerners are merely shallow, sexual objects. Finally, the narrative technique of an omniscient, invisible narrative profoundly illustrates how one dominant voice articulates culture and therefore emphasizes cultural diversity instead of cultural difference.