Alienation between Eri and Mari in “After Dark”

While reading this novel, I first found it interesting that the entire story took place in one night. I can not recall reading any novel that took place over one night or day, likewise. I found this sort of significant to why the author made the novel occur this way. As I read further, I discovered alienation to be a theme of the novel by seeing the issue between Eri and Mari. We see the novel taking place as part in reality and in part, the dream. It opens up with Mari spending her night reading in a Denny’s restaurant. There she meets a few individuals, including Takahashi (who we get  an idea from at the end that Mari is involved with romantically) and the story falls into play. Alienation occurs as the eerie dream unravels with their hopefulness to reach dawn as they are “trapped” in the darkness and we learn of Eri and Mari’s relationship problem.

Alienation is also found between the two sisters, Eri and Mari. Eri is the beautiful sister, a model since a very young age, and who their parents see as the “better” sister. On the other hand, Mari can be seen as the intelligent sister, the bookworm, not so beautiful but has plenty of brains. One of them struggles under the pressure of being perfect, whilst the other suffers from lack of attention. Both problems persist with the sisters, without one of the other realizing each other’s problem. Hence, they become alienated from one another. Takahashi, who knows both Eri and Mari, provides the bridge between the two girls. He listens to Mari slowly but surely opening up about her and her sister’s complicated intertwined relationship. Both believe the life of the other to be easier; Eri thinks Mari has it easy because she has no pressure on her, and Mari believes Eri has a simpler life because she is perfect. Takahashi tries to dismiss the alienation between the two at the end of the novel by helping Mari to make the first move to reconcile herself with Eri. We can see Takahashi as the “hero” of the novel, well the relationship between the two sisters (a main concern of the novel) by helping them to get their relationship back on the right track.




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2 responses to “Alienation between Eri and Mari in “After Dark”

  1. looloo14

    I agree, alienation seems to be a recurring theme in the novel After Dark. In addition to Mari and Eri’s relationship, I think another person who seems to have been alienated is Kaoru. Unlike the two sisters, who seem to be alienated by their family, Kaoru is alienated by society. As a former wrestler, she has masculine qualities like a larger body type and short hair. She is also the manager at a hotel which would seem like an inappropriate place for any other woman to work at, given its association with vice and prostitution. I think it is interesting how there are many different types of alienation in the novel.

  2. I also noticed the novel did occur within a very short amount of time, I think this adds to the dreamlike feel of the story. The distinct contrast between the two sisters highlights differing personalities which ultimately leads to the alienation each one experiences. Although they are sisters and one would assume they should have a lot of things in common, this does not hold true for the two of them. I think it is important that you made the connection of Takahashi’s function of serving as a “bridge” for the sisters. I think you could extend this idea to a larger context that although you may think someone has it easier and “the grass is greener on the other side” it really is not, and you should not be so quick to assume someone else’s situation is better. I think the above post did a good job mentioning how there appears to be various forms of alienation throughout the novel, which tie into our overall class theme.

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