After Dark and the Generic

One of the things I found most interesting while reading was how After Dark seems to highlight many aspects of the environment that seem generic.  The way that Haruki Murakami describes many of the settings makes them seem unoriginal and like they could exist anywhere they were constructed.  There is a great deal that describes the man-made aspects of the environment, which leaves it feeling somewhat cold and impersonal.

One of the earliest and most clear representations of this is the scene in Denny’s.  Although this is a scene that depicts Mari first interacting with others and begins the reader’s interest in the real aspects of the story.  However, instead of this taking place in a personal or original space, it occurs in one of the most generic settings that one can think of. In fact, while describing this scene the author even writes, “Everything about the restaurant is anonymous and interchangeable.  And almost every seat is filled” (Murakami 5).  The way that Murakami points out the impersonal being one of the most popular settings is very unique.

In this day and age its difficult to find many places that aren’t created to be exactly like Denny’s: impersonal, anonymous, and interchangeable.  Almost anywhere one goes to eat, buy food, get clothing, is a part of a larger chain that dictates it be identical to every other store of its kind.  However, these are also the places that personal interactions occur every day, and Murakami does an excellent job of highlighting how much of every person’s life is played out in a setting that could not be more generic.


1 Comment

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One response to “After Dark and the Generic

  1. Samantha Cooke

    I do not think that Murakami is necessarily trying to show that our lives are not unique, that everything has become generic. Rather, I believe he is using the well-known settings, like Denny’s, as a way of connecting the characters to the reader. It is easier for the reader to connect with the familiar, and as Denny’s chains are found internationally, more readers are likely to recognize the name and know what it looks like, what the food is like. The characters become more real – that could be us in there, reading and sipping coffee. It is an experience we can identify with, and because of that, the characters and their actions become more easily identified with.

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