Dialogue is Action


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How well can you re...
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How well can you really know someone?  


Bookworm AP Lit 2020
Joined: 11 months ago
Posts: 126
March 17, 2020 1:09 pm  

I found the fight that Toru had with Kumiko about toilet paper and tissues interesting. Toru began to think a lot about how much he actually knows his wife of 6 years just because of this incident. The fight itself seems a bit foolish, considering it’s about something as trivial as beef and green pepper and toiletries, but it seems to spark a crisis in Toru. This scene made me think about what we learned about existentialism (at least I think it was that unit) about how there are things we know and don’t know about ourselves, things others know and don’t know about us, and things that neither others nor us ourselves will ever know about us. There are things that Toru doesn’t know about Kumiko and vice versa. Sure he doesn’t know about her distaste for beef and green peppers, but he does know her period cycle which is something so personal that most people wouldn’t know that of her. She herself may not even realize how well her husband knows her considering she tells Toru her period is coming and he had already known without her telling him (maybe I’m just reading too much into this though). This scene also made me think about the first conversation Toru has with the telephone lady. Toru is surprised at how much the woman on the phone knows about him, even if those things are in reality, pretty insignificant (his age, that he’s unemployed, etc). She claims that 10 minutes is all that is needed to truly understand someone, and yet Toru has been married to Kumiko for 6 years and didn’t know she hates blue tissues and floral toilet paper. Do you guys think this connection is deliberately made between the woman on the phone and Kumiko and Toru’s relationship/interactions with both?

Gnome AP Lit 2020
Joined: 10 months ago
Posts: 67
March 21, 2020 3:29 pm  

I think you bring up a very interesting point as there is a lot of gray area in terms of discovery in ourselves and other people. I believe Murakami put this in here purposefully to generate these kinds of thoughts and all of a sudden make the insignificant seem significant. I believe this contributes to his koan-like writing style as he combines a Hodge Podge kind of style all into one to give a plethora of ideas that we have to tangle with to fully understand his thought process. It believe that existentialism like you said, is at play here as we are starting to question the things that seem meaningless when there clearly is more to it. i wonder where this thought process will take us as there is a lot to work with in this novel.

Steve Chisnell
Member Admin
Sith Lord
Joined: 3 years ago
Posts: 0
March 25, 2020 1:38 pm  

Some excellent points here, too.  BigBruh101 calls Murakami's style "Hodge Podge."  The literary name for his style comes from the postmodern approach: pastische (pah-STEESH). It means a narrative style that seems to be a collage of unrelated or non-chronological moments or scenes, yet somehow form a pattern of significance.

The juxtaposition of the phone-sex-lady and Kumiko has to be significant, yes? Toru sees the connection at the end of the chapter. But, as ever, doesn't dwell on it long. Is "knowing" someone inherently sexual? does it require intimacy? Is the sexual act offered a metaphor for intimacy or a false intimacy? Is the toilet paper design a metaphor or a false one? If not these two, what, then?  (There may be a Who and What issue here.)


Bookworm AP Lit 2020
Joined: 9 months ago
Posts: 143
April 23, 2020 2:10 pm  

@schisnell like @BigBruh101 mentioned about Murakami's style, it does seem to be a "hodge-podge of ideas and scenes. I think it is very interesting to now know a word for that style of writing. One thing this all makes me wonder about is how Murakami's tendency to write in spurts, some of which end scenes and begin new ones, effects his style. He must have an idea of what he wants to accomplish in the end, so all of these seemingly random concepts and scenes actually do connect in the end.

Gnome AP Lit 2020
Joined: 9 months ago
Posts: 55
May 6, 2020 12:38 pm  

Throughout my reading of the novel I wrestled with the concept of what it meant to know someone.  The contrast that Zoe discussed between Kumiko and the women on the phone definitely threw me upon my reading it.  Toru feels he known Kumiko far better than the other women who claims to know so much about him because of their marriage, but this turns out not to be the case.  However, as the novel progresses, Toru is able to help heal the women when working with Cinnamon and Nutmeg, sometimes without even knowing them or what they feel is broken about themselves.  Based on this context, I questioned what constitutes as "knowing someone", just as Mr. Chisnell discussed above.  It seems that Toru's knowledge of the women wasn't relevant as far as his ability to help them, so is knowing someone an achievable, or necessary quest?  If your mission is simply to be able to claim to know them, how does your knowledge of little facts about them impact your relationship?  From this perspective, the issue lies in the motive behind knowing someone.


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