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An Enemy on an Island – Snow Falling on Cedars – David Gutterson

November 9th, 2010 · No Comments · Humanism, Philosophy

An enemy on an island is an enemy forever, he’d been fond of reminding his son. There was no blending into an anonymous background, no neighboring society to shift toward. Islanders were required, by the very nature of their landscape, to watch their step moment by moment. No one trod easily upon the emotions of another where the sea licked everywhere against an endless shoreline. And this was excellent and poor at the same time—excellent because it meant most people took care, poor because it meant an inbreeding of the spirit, too much held in, regret and silent brooding, a world whose inhabitants walked in trepidation, in fear of opening up. Considered and considerate, formal at every turn, they were shut out and shut off from the deep interplay of their minds. They could not speak freely because they were cornered: everywhere they turned there was water and more water, a limitless expanse of it in which to drown. They held their breath and walked with care, and this made them who they were inside, constricted and small, good neighbors.

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