Nothing is Black and White in After Dark

In the novel After Dark by Haruki Murakami, the lines between good and evil are blurred and Murakami suggests that both of these natures exist in everyone. We can see this first and foremost in the way the story is narrated- the story is not presented in first person and hence we are given a very objective point of view. We are not immediately aware of who is the protagonist and antagonist of our story and Murakami mentions many times that we are merely “observers”.

Another place that the delineation between good and evil is blurred is when we meet the man who beat up the prostitute at Alphaville. Upon meeting him we are surprised to find that he seems like a very ordinary man and Murakami makes the suggestion that perhaps the man was forced to do this: “He does not look like the kind of man who would buy a Chinese prostitute in a love hotel- and certainly not one who would administer an unmerciful pounding to such a woman…. In fact, however, that is exactly what he did- what he had to do” (Murakami 99). Once we figure out who our villain might be, the rug is pulled from under us and the neutrality of the story- as in between good and evil- is maintained.

Finally, when Takahashi is describing to Mari why it is that he wanted to become a lawyer, he notes the discovery of the dual presence of both good and evil in every person and how this peaked his curiosity to explore this further. He notes how “…that there really was no such thing as a wall separating their world [evil] from mine [good]” (Murakami 117). Takahashi also admits that he cried when a criminal was sentenced to death and asks us “Why should that have been?” (Murakami 120). Perhaps, it is because of his realization that not only evil, but good as well, resides in these criminals and that the criminals may not be all that different from himself. In this way, Murakami manages to not provide us with a protagonist or antagonist, and blurs the lines between good and evil- at least thus far.



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2 responses to “Nothing is Black and White in After Dark

  1. stperry1

    I think that this is a really important part of After Dark to point out. Not only is this point incredibly relevant to the novel, especially in the three instances you detailed, but its also incredibly relevant to each reader’s life. Every person reaches a point where they realize that good and evil is not as clear as it was in Disney movies. These lines are not as clear as we are taught and children, and part of growing up is learning this very important lesson. Although some people have more “good” in them, there is no individual who is completely good. Everyone has a “evil” side, and it is up to the individual to chose to be good.

  2. autumncassidy

    Another aspect of the book which pertains to your interpretation and thematic element is the situation with the motorcycle rider or the “pimp” of the Chinese prostitute and his exacting revenge upon the “john” who beat her up. Although this is in no way legal, nor is it moral, while I was reading the novel I had the impression that it was almost the “right” thing to do. Kaoru also seemed to think this way as she gave the pimp the man’s photograph. This represents a certain amount of grey area: although Kaoru did not want to know what revenge would be taken out on the man, she did want to know if he’d been found.

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