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Legacy of the Family. “Snow Falling on Cedars” Movie


Culture is the cognitive constructs and the shared patterns that identify a particular group of people (Egede, 2006). Culture transcends the material objects and the tangible aspects of human societies. It forms the basis of ethnic differences and practices. The following paper is an assessment of family culture and racial traits. The paper explores how the family culture influences socio-cultural, environmental, communication, decision making, and roles. The assessment will draw examples from the movie Snow Falling on Cedars.

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Description of Movie Family

Snow Falling on Cedars is a movie that depicts the issues of cultural differences that exists within families. The setting of the film is on a fictional San Piedro Island that is inhabited by White Americans and Japanese Americans. The movie relates to the interactions between the two cultures during the Second World War. Imada’s family is a case depiction of the cultural differences in the island. The differences arose after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. As a result, Imada is arrested and taken to a concentration camp. Later, his entire family is taken to the camp. During their stay at the Camp, Imada’s daughter, Hatsue is involved in a secret love affair with Ishmael, a White American (Bass, 1999).

Family Processes


Socio-cultural forces influence family dynamics. The primary socio-cultural factor in Imada’s family is the denial of mixed marriages. The socialization process as depicted in the movie points to the family dynamics in which values are passed from the parents to the children. For example, Hatsue’s mother cautions her daughter to stay away from the non-Japanese boys.


The environment that exists between members of different communities determines the processes of interactions and adaptations. Mistrust and greed characterize the environment on the island. For example, Imada does not like the Whites; hence, he writes a letter to his family explaining to them that the White Americans are not better than animals.


The racial bias hinders communication between the two cultures due to prejudice. For example, Hatsue refuses to tell Ishmael why her mother was teaching her some cultural practices (Bass, 1999). The racial differences result in mistrust. For instance, Kabuo does not trust the white investigators.

Power/Decision Making

Racial differences also influence the decisions that affect the families. For example, due to racial bias, a powerful decision is made to take Imada’s family to the concentration camp. The decision to try Hatsue’s husband, Kabuo Miyamoto is also based on racial bias.


Cultural expectations differ by culture. Culture influences the roles of men and women in society. In the movie, Imada’s family has role expectations for the children (Egede, 2006). For example, Hatsue is taught the roles of a Japanese woman. On the other hand, White Americans are more oriented toward professionalism. For example, Ishmael’s father wants his son to be a professional photographer.

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Family Values

Family values comprise the customs, ideas, beliefs, and attitudes that are learned and reinforced within a family. In the Imada family, values are depicted in the roles Hatsue’s mother teaches her daughter. For example, the family is against mixed marriages; the values lead to Hatsue refusing to marry Ishmael. She marries Kabuo.

Socialization and Child Rearing

Socialization entails the process in which children are taught how to become successful members of society (Beaton & Ferraz, 2000). Socialization involves the passing of ideas, values, behaviors, and patterns to the children. Hatsue is taught by her mother how to do her hair, how to sit, and dance to prepare her for traditional roles as a wife and to attract her Japanese husband.

Healthcare Beliefs and Practices

Healthcare beliefs and practices are affected by many variables. Some of the variables include generational practices, culture, and socioeconomic factors. Similarly, in the movie Snow Falling on the Cedars, various factors affect how Imada’s family views matters that relate to health. Due to socio-economic factors, Imada’s family does not place a lot of emphasis on health issues. Instead, they place a lot of emphasis on the cultural upbringing of their daughter. Hatsue’s mother does not caution her against practices such as kissing and sexual affairs.


Adaptation entails the process in which an individual integrates into a new situation and feels comfortable. Imada’s family was relocated to the concentration camp. In the camp, the family adopted and assumed its usual practices. For example, Hatsue’s mother was able to go about her practices as a caring mother. Despite being in a concentration camp, Hatsue was able to cope with the situation and even fall in love with Ishmael.

Assessment of Development and Functional Competency

Functional competency entails the knowledge, skill, and abilities that are essential in carrying out a given task (Sutton, 2000). In the family setting, functional competencies are developed through a process of acculturation. The practices normally relate to cultural orientation, and the ethnic values practiced at the family level. For example, Hatsue’s mother teaches her daughters how Japanese women should behave. This portrays that Imada’s family is severely disturbed by matters that relate to mixed marriages. On the other hand, Ishmael’s family is more focused on professionalism and does not consider cultural differences. This depicts the adequate development of Ishmael’s family.


Culture acts as the distinguishing factor among people of different ethnicities. Snow Falling on Cedars is a movie that depicts the issues of cultural differences that exist within families. Hatsue is torn between the loyalty to the Japanese culture and the need for a world free from ethnic differences. The portrayal of Imada’s family points to the fact that culture has a great implication in the socialization process. Thus, culture influences the practices, decision-making process, and thinking.


Bass, R. (Executive Producer). (1999). Snow falling on cedars [DVD]. Universal City, California: Universal Pictures.

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Beaton, D., & Ferraz, M. (2000). Guidelines for the process of cross-cultural adaptation of self-report measures. Spine, 25 (24), 3186-3191.

Egede, L. (2006). Race, Ethnicity, Culture, and Disparities in Health care. Journal of Internal General Medicine, 21(6), 667-669.

Sutton, M. (2000). Improving Patient Care: Cultural Competence. Family Practice Management, 7 (9), 58-60.

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