After Dark: At a Distance

Murakami’s novel After Dark has the unique feature of keeping the reader at a distance while still incorporating them into the work as “we”. The reader is never directly involved in the action of the story but is able to relate as their, “point of view, as an imaginary camera, picks up and lingers over things like this in the room. We are invisible, anonymous intruders” (Murakami 33).  This same relationship the reader has with the novel can be expanded to how one feels as life happens and passes them by. One feels like, “we are not physically present in the place, and we leave behind no traces” (Murakami 33). It is this disconnection with other human beings and society that grasps the essence of this novel.

These relationships between the characters in the story help to define the “collective entity” of the novel while still showing the individuality of people. Each person with their unique characteristics must all together in this world. Unique to this story though is a character’s ability to not be present in a room, but still linger behind. Perhaps the author is trying to say that even when someone is not physically present we still have the ability to remember and learn from that person. It is these walls, either physical or not, that ultimately define our relations with other people. The novel’s greatest accomplishment is its ability to make the reader question who they are as a person.  And what defines being human? One is forced to analyze the unique human feature, the mind.

 

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “After Dark: At a Distance

  1. smboehm

    I loved your topic choice for this post. When reading After Dark, I also thought it was interesting how there was distance between the narrative and the reader. Normally, this would cause the reader to be bored and show minimal attention to the plot, but in Murakami’s novel, it works for the reader to be kept at a distance. Since there is this essence of distance, it causes things to be left in a “gray zone”, ultimately asking the reader for their own interpretation of events and scenarios. Through creating this distance, I believe that Murakami actually made the reader have a more personable take on the story by relating their experiences and opinions in the vague areas.

  2. ashleighbarraca

    I have to admit that when I was first reading After Dark, I was confused by the “we”. I thought that “we” referred to another set of characters that we as readers had not met yet. It was only when I read that first chapter about Eri, in the line “We are invisible, anonymous intruders” that you quoted that made me realize that Murakami was talking about the readers! I definitely felt a little stupid at that point, but as I kept reading I definitely agree with you that such a disconnect with the characters helps the novel. It gave the feeling that we are nature documentarians, watching wildlife happen, but not being able to intervene. In a way, it made me like the characters even more.

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