Probably, many of you have already read a large number of novels that described the trauma of people in life, the balance of life and death. Of course, if we talk about this, then almost everyone will remember the works of the classics of Europe and Russia, but few people know about the novel written not so long ago by the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. Under his authorship there were already many works that deeply immerse us in the life of the characters, their experiences and moral choices, where each character has his own life values and views on the world and society. It is precisely such works that the novel “Norwegian Wood” belongs to.
The beginning of the book immediately shows us the main character – thirty-seven-year-old Toru Watanabe. He is walking through Hamburg Airport and accidentally hears the Beatles song “Norwegian Wood”, after which he begins to reflect on the past, how he lived in the 60s, in which the main events of the novel took place. Toru grew up in Japan, Koba, in a narrow circle of friends – Kizuki’s best friend and his girlfriend – Naoko. Their life was happy and calm, but at one point the main character’s friend commits suicide, which shocks everyone and destroys their carefree existence. Left alone, the heroes are grieving the death of a loved one.
Especially his girlfriend, who is in despair and feels only the pressure of death due to the loss of her soulmate. Only after the death of a person dear to him, Toru realized that death is not something separate from life, it is part of it. Over time, their life becomes more calm and ordinary, the guys decide to go to university in Tokyo. Their relationship improved every day and they spent a lot of time together. Finally, when Naoko turns 20, they have a love affair, but after that, Toro receives only a note that she is leaving for a sanatorium and she needs to be alone. After that, our main character gets acquainted with a student of the theater class. The girl’s name was Midori, and as it turned out, she likes the main character, so they kiss one night.
But the girl said that she already has a young man, and in principle, ideas about love are selfish, her lover must fulfill all her whims immediately, even if the lady’s opinion and desires change in a second. After some time, Toro received a letter from Naoko, who thinks she is to blame for him. She came to her senses after the events that had happened, the girl stayed at the Amiryo sanatorium and had already settled in. In her letter, she says that she will completely disappear without Watanabe and invites her to come and visit her. The protagonist accepts this offer, upon arrival he meets her neighbor Reiko. It was a strange woman with wrinkles, Thoreau noted that they were on her from birth and accompanied her emotions. After talking with Reiko, he learns more about life in this sanatorium. In this institution, employees and patients are on an equal footing, each of them can do some work, help each other, and sometimes doctors and patients are indistinguishable or patients look better than the staff. Later after this conversation, Toro meets with Naoko. In the evening, Reiko played the guitar while the characters chatted. At some time, by order of the girl, the song “Norwegian Forest” was played, which the main character heard at the very beginning of the novel. As it turned out, Naoko requested this song in moments of unbearable sadness.
Therefore, the guy’s girlfriend decided to talk about her relationship with Kizuki. According to her, they knew each other perfectly, even every part of each other’s body, but their intimate life was bad. They were closed from everyone in their inner world, but Toro became for them a means of communication with the rest of the world. Because of such a heavy conversation, Naoko began to cry, and Reiko and Watanabe went for a walk. On it, a woman spoke about herself. In fact, she was a born pianist, but her little finger stopped working, the doctors said that this was due to mental problems. She even had several treatments in the hospital. Soon after the hospital, she found a husband who was noble and decent, he loved her despite all the problems. This period of life, when they had a family, dob, life and children, became the happiest time in Reiko’s life.
Later, Tori returned to Tokyo, he continued to communicate with Midori, but his thoughts were occupied by longing for Naoko. Therefore, soon he comes to her again, they decided that they would live in Tokyo together. But immediately upon arrival in the city, the guy receives a letter from Reiko, which says that Naoko was transferred to a hospital, where she will undergo intensive mental rehabilitation. The protagonist at this time again begins to communicate with Midori and decided that he was in love with her. The girl reciprocates and leaves her boyfriend.
After telling Reiko about this, he is asked not to tell Naoko about it. Upon her return, she hanged herself in the woods that same evening. From this, Toro becomes depressed, he traveled for a long time with only one backpack, but when the money ran out, he had to return to Tokyo. Reiko has arrived. They talked and then had sex all night long. In the morning, she leaves forever, and the main character understands that he wants to be with Midori for the rest of his life and calls her.
The meaning of the book “Norwegian Forest”
The main meaning of the work can be called the understanding that death is far from being a separate part of life and is not opposite to it. Only a person chooses whether to live or to die. The author shows us this from the very beginning on the example of Kizuki’s suicide, where he chose his own right path. It is important that this is the personification of the exodus of weak and frivolous people, who have become very numerous among the youth. By his act, the guy left a loved one in grief, but, doing this, he did not think about it. Even at the end of the work, the conclusion was summed up: “Things could have been different if my childhood friend had been alive.”
Analyzing Haruki Murakami’s book, one can notice not only a lot of reflections on life and death, longing and love, but also in the novel there are distinctive features of Japan. The country itself was removed from the whole world for quite a long time, so it has left its national flavor so far, but in the work, unfortunately, it is represented by suicides, which can be called a hallmark of this country.
Norwegian Wood is a 1987 novel by Japanese writer Haruki Murakami. The name of the work comes from the song of the same name by the Beatles, which appeared several times in key moments. Many people said that the novel is autobiographical, but the author denied this and said: “I’m just the type of person who can’t understand anything until they try to put it on paper.”
The name “Norwegian Forest” was not chosen by chance. It intersects with the song “The Beatles”, which was also called. It is important that this composition played at the beginning of the novel, which served as the beginning of the plot, but also in the hospital, where one of the turning points of the story took place.
The main problem of this work can be called the fact that Haruki wove together the state of a normal and healthy person, but also the world of depression and anxiety. Also, some readers who are not native Japanese say that there is too much color of this country in the work, which seems strange or incomprehensible to a group of readers. But still, the majority of both critics and ordinary readers liked the book and became known all over the world.
In his novel, Murakami teaches frivolous people, especially teenagers and young adults, that passing away is not the way out of problems. The author showed on the history of ordinary people what suicide can lead to, as well as the choice of the main character, which is truly correct, he chose to move forward and live, not death. The writer is trying to urge everyone who has read the story to this decision.
The ending of the book can be called both tragic and happy at the same time, but it is impossible to argue with the fact that the ending of the novel is open. The author wants you to come up with your own end to the story of the characters. It can be called positive because the main character finds his love and understands what he wants in his life, he chooses to move on in a direction that is clear to him, to which the whole plot went. On the other hand, the ending is tragic, all of Toro’s friends die or leave forever, only Midori, with whom he may have connected the rest of his life, remained with him at the end of the story.