Nightfall Brings Separation

Haruki Murakami’s novel, After Dark, is true to its title. The Japanese city that the novel takes place in is transformed upon sundown; the respectful business people have gone home to the suburbs and the city becomes alive with crimes like prostitution. The reader gets a sense of dreaminess when the stage is set: “In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single gigantic creature—or more like a single collective entity created by many intertwining organisms” (2) . The dreaminess that is established by Murakami seems to highlight the feeling of isolation that is brought on by nightfall. It is like fogginess has befallen the people of the city which works to bring out a sense of isolation in the characters of the novel.

For instance, Mari is a young woman who is sitting alone in a Denny’s restaurant. Despite the restaurant being almost full of people, it manages to be, “anonymous and interchangeable” (3). This atmosphere suggests that the presence of people is not enough to remove the felling of separation that nightfall brings. The Chinese prostitute that is beaten represents another level of separation; she is not only separated from her homeland, she is physically separated from the other women who help her. She is unable to communicate with Mari and she bears the marks of her beatings which will separate her from her fellow prostitutes by putting her out of work. Her occupation is one that is notoriously associated with nightfall because of its connection with sin. Although people are still active during night, they face a new separation from the world they live in; a sense of isolation that cannot be escaped until sunrise.

 

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Nightfall Brings Separation

  1. smboehm

    I think your take on night as separation is very interesting. When reading After Dark, I also found it interesting how the night is compared to the two-month comma that Eri has been in. Even though this “night” is much worse than the “night” that say, the prostitute, is facing, in the novel all of the nights seem to hold a similar feeling of ending when the daylight breaks. Simply because of the darkness, there is intense separation for all of these characters. It’s almost as if the darkness symbolizes evil and the daylight goodness, yet right now all they can dwell on is their current state in darkness and separation from reality.

  2. siegvald

    I think that another aspect of separation is placed upon the readers when we come to the scene with the Chinese prostitute. I thought it was curious how Murakami takes the trouble to transliterate the Chinese that is spoken between the prostitute and Mari, and then in parentheses add the English translation. It is almost as if he is trying to convey to the readers that “outsider” feeling that you can sometimes feel when you need to communicate with somebody and they don’t speak your language. Being dependent on a translator makes you feel estranged from the person you are trying to communicate with.

  3. aeernst

    This is very interesting, and you can also consider how the physical darkness creates separation through darkness and what that can represent. However, the prostitute can communicate with Mari because she knows Chinese, but the prostitute cannot communicate with the majority of the rest of the people in Japan. This creates a much bigger separation because most of the people that could help her would not be able to understand her. Also, Eri is separated from her family and everyone else around her by the darkness of a long, deep sleep, and she will be isolated until her dawn arrives.

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