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The complex and dynamic concept of conflicting perspectives towards historical

events, personal situations and public personalities are meaningfully explored in


David Guterson’s Snow Falling on Cedars, Jonathon Swift’s poem ‘Verses on the
Death of Dr. Swift’ and Picasso’s painting, Guernica. These powerful representations
have engaged and developed my overall understanding of how conflicting
perspectives are shaped by ideologies and medium of production. Essentially, the
elevated language forms and features has allowed me to understand the multiple
perspectives towards interpreting the texts themselves.

Snow Falling on Cedars explores how the underlying prejudices between the Japanese
and the Americans give rise to conflicting perspectives towards publicly visual
interracial relationships. The slanderous diction of “Japs” and “Hakujin” foreground
this tension between the two communities where the cumulative listing of “Jap
Number 1 … Number 3” reduces the Japanese to mere numbers, stripping them of
their identity. This is reinforced by the portrayal of “I don’t want to be Japanese!”
emphasising how Hatsue has become an ‘other’ in a post-war xenophobic society.
The metonymic cedar tree liberates Ishmael and Hatsue from the prejudices of the
outside world yet consequently, its physical confinement acts as a prison of “deceit”
and “guilt”. Later, the high modality of “Oceans don’t mix” metaphorically questions
the worth of their relationship, where the physical distance between the “Atlantic,
Pacific, Indian, Arctic” highlights how social prejudices ultimately separate Ishamel
and Hatsue. Essentially, this macrocosm of these racist perspectives interact with the
private domain of relationships, generating meaning that allows me to better
understand the concept of conflicting perspectives.

While Snow Falling on Cedars focuses on the tension between two communities,
Guernica is a Cubist painting which powerfully explores the complex and morally
ambiguous ideals of the Spanish Civil War, where distorted representation of
suffering figures parallels the fragmentation of world view. The salient feature of the
bull and horse foregrounds the Nationalist perspective and are mythopoetic symbols
for the beauty and resilience of the Spanish people. However, this is dramatically
undercut by the poignant images of a mother cradling her dead infant representing
how destructive macrocosmic events impact upon communities and people within
them. This persuades me to sympathise with the pacifist perspectives evoked. Picasso
uses chiaroscuro in his collage of beasts and body parts to communicate the ambiguity
of this national event where the juxtaposition between light and shade acts as a motif
for the tension between a hopeful vision of order and the corruptive baseness of war.
Ultimately, the strategic placement of the metonymic light bulb contained within an
elevated sun represents how multiple perspectives towards destructive events shed
light on human issues in chaotic situations.

Similarly, Snow Falling on Cedars explores how the multiple perspectives towards the
murder trial of Kabuo sheds light on the problematic human psyche that interprets our
immediate context, acting as a barrier towards the ideological goal of truth and
justice. The underlying motif of “white snow” questions my perception of reality as it
physically covers the landscape, metaphoric for the obscuring of the meaning of facts.
This is reinforced by the historical reference to Pearl Harbour which acted as a
catalyst for the initial wave of xenophobia that marginalized Japanese migrants and
legal principles. Ultimately, the courthouse is symbolic of humanity’s frail attempts to
separate right from wrong, further questioning our ability to make decisions free from
prejudice. This is reinforced by the antithesis of “At least the facts you can cling to;
the emotions just float away” emphasising the blurring of moral boundaries due to the
corruption of human institutions held up idealistically as impartial. However, this is
later dramatically undercut by the powerful assertion of “Human beings must act on
reason” highlighting the possibility of the dues process of court to reconcile the
multiple perspectives of both parties so that a higher social justice can be achieved.

While Snow Falling on Cedars focuses on the widely corruptive nature of society,
‘Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift’ represents Swift’s criticism of human jealousy.
The poem opens with Swift’s perspective on La Rouchefoucauld’s maxim where the
rhetorical “Who wouldn’t stand high himself, keep others low?” reflects his cynical
view of humanity. This is reinforced by his imagination of how his friends would
react to his death where the reductive diction of “snivelers round my bed” emphasises
his view that we are uncaring of the hardships of close friends. The breakdown of the
Dean’s public memory is further reinforced by the reference to “Grub street” where
the antithesis of “To curse the Dean, or to bless the Drapier” reflects the conflicting
perspectives towards his death. However, the poem later undergoes a major transition
with the introduction of an admirer, viewed as a neutral observer. He praises the Dean
where the pseudonym of “Drapier” is a reference to Swift’s role in encouraging Irish
resistance to the “Destructive project of Wood’s half-pence.” This implicit panegyric
focuses on his virtues and selflessness where the personification of capitalized
“LIBERTY” elevates himself above base humanity, liberated as the one exception to
Rochefoucauld’s maxim. This represents how the conflicting perspectives, towards
the historical personality of Swift are meaningfully linked to his cultural context of
Irish virtue and service, developing my overall understanding of how conflicting
perspectives are shaped by our context.

The conflicting perspectives towards historical events, personal situations and public
personalities in texts can be better understood by considering the context specific
vision of the composers. My study on the dynamic concept of conflicting perspectives
has been shaped by my intrinsically subjective human response to contextual details.
Essentially, the elevated language forms and features within these powerful
representations has allowed me to establish a connection between representation and
meaning.

An absolutely brilliant analysis! This is just wonderful to read.

Wow! A lovely essay!


Well done – you detail the nature of Conflicting Perspectives and analyse
(extensively) how they have been represented in your texts!
Well done!
Great positioning of the responder throughout too!