“A Wild Sheep Chase”: meaning and analysis of the book by Haruki Murakami

“A Wild Sheep Chase”: meaning and analysis of the book by Haruki Murakami Literature

Books by modern Japanese writer Haruki Murakami are gaining more and more popularity among connoisseurs of intellectual literature. Murakami unsurpassedly combines mysticism, symbolism, fantasy, bordering on harsh reality in his works.

Haruki Murakami was born in 1949 in Kyoto and spent his childhood in the industrial city of Kobe. He himself was very fond of literature from a young age, leading endless disputes with his father, a teacher of the Japanese language. His student years fell on a period of political chaos and riots. Soon he begins to write, feeling in himself the strength and desire to change the world for the better as much as possible. His famous work “Song of the Wind” quickly brought him great fame and popularity.

The author is popular in many countries, his books are sold in millions of copies, he has many awards in the field of literature, he is one of the main candidates for the Nobel Prize. Murakami is called “a European from Japanese literature”, his work was greatly influenced by both Japanese and American culture. We can say that his Japanese characters look at the world through the eyes of Europeans. In Russia, Murakami’s books appeared relatively recently and quickly won well-deserved popularity. Both the educated “advanced youth” and the mature public are read by them, but the younger generation is still larger.

In them, it seeks answers to questions that are important to itself, learn to put up with the injustices and contradictions of fate.

Haruki Murakami’s book “A Wild Sheep Chase” is one of the trilogies about a character under the speaking name “Rat”, with whom the protagonist of this novel meets. The author masterfully describes the intricacies of their destinies, character traits, immersing readers in a secret world that not everyone can control. In the future, the trilogy acquires a continuation, the hero of “A Wild Sheep Chase” is described in other wonderful works of the author.

The protagonist is in constant search of himself, rushing from one woman to another, not finding harmony and peace. Suddenly, a very strange person appears in his life, who invites him to complete an equally strange task: to find a sheep, or rather, its wandering spirit, which has the power to inhabit the very soul of a person. If he does not do this in the shortest possible time, his work as an interpreter will come to an end.

The plot is based on a Chinese legend about the transmigration of the soul of a Sheep into a person, who then receives supernatural powers and abilities.

The genre of Haruki Murakami’s works is very difficult to define, it is an amazing synthesis of compatible and incompatible. Critics call his novels both occult detective stories and dystopian literature, but agree that the author’s talent is undeniably unique.

The work of Haruki Murakami is complex and diverse, it is better to start acquaintance with him not from this book, it is not easy to understand, it must be read thoughtfully enough.

In the center of the novel, the image of the Sheep Man appears, which symbolizes the departing human spirit, he is the owner of the Evil Empire he created himself and must soon die along with his Empire. His name is Sensei, he is old, and most importantly seriously ill – for many years a giant tumor has been growing in his head, incompatible with human life. Because of this, monstrous hallucinations arise in his inflamed brain, and he himself seemed to be reborn into a different creature. In these hallucinations, the image of a sheep appears to him, the photographic image of which is found by the protagonist of the novel. Soon Sensei still dies, he is replaced by the character of the Rat, into which the spirit of the Sheep should move.

The hero returns again to where he came from, left with a “broken trough”. At first, he meets a pretty girl, but she quickly bothers him and disappears from his life. Then he seeks to assert himself at the expense of his work partner and his wife, bringing misfortune to their family. Then a fantastic image appears that has arisen from another reality – the image of a Sheep with its supernatural abilities. There is a struggle between their coexistence, aimed at the survival of the fittest.

A distinctive feature of the novel is that it practically does not use names, the author calls his characters like this: “the main character”, or according to their occupation or features of character and appearance.

In 1981, Murkami left for the island of Hokkaido in order to collect material for the future book A Wild Sheep Chase. He needs to plunge into an unknown world, understandable not to everyone. He does not deny that Coppola’s “Apocalypse” and Chandler’s “The Long Goodbye” had a great influence on the creation of the novel, from which he learned a lot. However, the author himself denies that he borrowed the plot of the Apocalypse. He takes as a basis the novel by Joseph Conrad “Heart of Darkness”, which, as later, the Rat himself read before hanging himself. And the main idea was the reflection that when a person finds what he has been looking for for so long, someone else’s goal disappears, but his own does not appear, only chaos and emptiness come to replace it.

Why is the book called “A Wild Sheep Chase”?

The author was often asked this question, and oddly enough, even he himself cannot answer it, leaving this right to the readers themselves. Each of us can decipher its meaning in our own way, based on our worldview, life experience, preferences. Reflecting on the book, everyone will see in it something of their own, understandable only to him, somewhere he will think it over, he will agree with something or not.

The image of a certain Sheep embodies the problems of our subconscious and conscience, proving that the problems of each person are primarily in himself and only he himself can help himself cope with everything that worries and worries him so much. But at the same time, the Sheep itself is very humane: before moving into the professor’s soul, she asks for permission from him. And it is from this moment that the main test begins: the main choice in our life is made only by ourselves! A person has an internal dispute with himself: who do I want to be in this world, why did I come to Earth? Sell ​​your soul for power, wealth, possible immortality, or remain mere mortals penniless, but free?! These questions are eternal, everyone has only their own choice, and the role of the author in this is only to help show a person what he can be capable of by making his choice in life.

The problems raised by the author in the work are always eternal: the value of human life, the meaning of being, the search for oneself and one’s destiny on the path of life.

It is impossible to predict the actions of Murakami’s heroes, each time you don’t know how they will behave this time, having a special power, the work is breathtaking and does not allow you to tear yourself away.

The novel simply shakes with its power, fascinates with magnetism, it is not very easy to understand and comprehend. More it will appeal to literary gourmets who love creative delights. Murakami, using the subtle strings of the human soul, immerses the reader into a different world, where not everyone can enter. After reading the novel, you begin to look at some things differently, appreciate life, every moment of it. As trite as it may seem, the book teaches simple truths of life, immutable values ​​that make up the meaning of human existence.

The end of the book is quite natural: the hero returns to normal, he lost a lot that was so dear to him, but at the same time he understood and realized how important all this turned out to be for him. It can involuntarily be compared with the heroes of Faust, his reflections on good and evil, their constant struggle and contradictions.

Murakami shows us a kind of “Hero of Our Time” with his difficult, but quite conscious position, but how to act in his place is already a personal choice for everyone, based on their principles and moral values.

I hope I have helped you to find the meaning of the book A Wild Sheep Chase, as well as to understand its ending. If you have a different vision of the book – write your own version in the comments.

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