Alienation of Mari in “After Dark”

Very similar to the literature that we have been reading all semester long, one very evident theme present in “After Dark” is alienation. I think that alienation is present in all characters that have so far been introduced, but especially in the main character, Mari. Mari is introduced in the novel by sitting in a Denny’s by herself late at night, reading a book. She is concentrating very hard on reading her book, completely ignoring the environment around her. I think there is something to Mari’s character, as to why she seems to prefer to be alone. It seems that any time she gets other people through the course of the story, she looks for a way to get away as soon as possible. An example of this is when Mari and Kaoru are looking for some time to pass, and Kaoru takes Mari to a bar. Kaoru says “I could really use a nice cold beer. How about you?” Mari replies, “I can’t drink.” Kaoru then says, “So have some juice or something. What the hell, you’ve gotta be someplace killing time till morning” (Murakami, 65). When the two are on their way to the bar, Mari seems a little reluctant to go, but she eventually warms up to Kaoru and starts talking once they order their drinks. I do not completely know why Mari has the tendency to prefer to be alone, but I think that answer will come once we have read the book in its entirety.

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4 responses to “Alienation of Mari in “After Dark”

  1. looloo14

    I think another way Mari is alienated is by her family. Eri is a beautiful beauty-queen figure and Mari is a book worm college student. Perhaps the thing most similar between them is their names. The sisters are defined, one as a beauty and the other as a brain, which makes it hard for them to reach outside the limits of who they are supposed to be. Another difference between the sisters is even their sleep schedule. Eri has not awakened in two months, while Mari stays out for whole nights. Perhaps this highlights the alienation that they face from each other.

  2. What I find interesting about her alienation is that it does not stem from other people distancing themselves from Mari, but it is instead Mari distancing herself from others. Immediately in the novel, Mari is approached by Takahashi, and later friendly acquainted to Kaoru, but she reacts to these acts of fraternization with complete apprehension. I believe she is generally avoidant because of a fear for rejection, which derives from her parents’ shame for her not being unrealistically attractive or scholastic. Mari also mentions that she could not make friends in school, to the point where she had a borderline phobia of going. This social rejection coupled with her own parents disregard could have psychologically structured Mari for alienation.

  3. stperry1

    I agree that Mari’s alienation from her family and specifically her sister make for an excellent addition to one of the themes of this semester. Alienation within a family is a classic example of how an individual can feel on the outside. A bond between sisters is a complex one, and there is usually a degree of alienation regardless of how close the two girls are. In this case, Mari and Eri are not close and have difficulty connecting at all, which can be difficult, especially for the younger sister. I feel like Mari’s behavior in places such as the Denny’s is a result of her feeling alienated from her family.

  4. Although I focused on alienation between the two sisters, Mari and Eri, I agree with your post as the theme alienation is repeated throughout the novel. The fact that you pointed out how the story opens up with “Mari sitting in a Denny’s by herself late at night, reading a book. She is concentrating very hard on reading her book, completely ignoring the environment around her.” This is something I did not immediately catch as “alienation”. The fact that she was isolated in the beginning and focused on only herself and what she was doing at the time is a great example of alienation. Good close reading of the text.

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