Tag Archives: Night

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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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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