The Elephant Vanishes Written by Murakami Haruki Presentation by: AnuradhaChhibber
Looking Back at the MurakamiHaruki’s Good Old Days….. Born in Kobe in 1950, Murakami was introduced to Japanese literature by his high-school teacher father. Entering Waseda University, he chose to study Greek drama. For him, though, the real tragedy of his student days was the rise and inevitable destruction of the student radical movement. Disenchanted with mainstream society, Murakami opened a jazz café in Shibuya and ran it for nine years. Soaking up the bohemian atmosphere, he spent long nights at his kitchen table, writing down ideas and impressions. The result was his first novel, Hear the Wind Sing, which won the Noma prize for fiction in 1980. Google Images
Did You Know….. That this story is actually called “A Family Affair” and is one of the short stories IN the book “The Elephant Vanishes” so if you’re wondering why the title doesn’t make sense, this is why!! Murukami’s characters are not that extreme however, they encounter a strong authority- the fiancé was one of them. Many people criticized Murukami’s work for not being realistic. He is one of the few authors that integrate American pop culture into his/ her work.
What do people think about The Elephant Vanishes- Family Affair? This story struck me as being fairly laced with subplots and hidden meanings. All of it was done in a very subtle manner, true to Murakami’s style and it really struck well, especially at the end, with its blunt, matter-of-fact manner of storytelling. Firstly, the narrator and his sister are just what he says, “partners”. Partners in living a pointless lifestyle. She has grown out of it though. In the 5 years they have lived together she has grown and developed a sense of responsibility and place in the world. He however, is still trapped in his own little world, his separate reality. This is demonstrated often by how he says things that don’t affect him don’t concern him, such as who wins the baseball game. It doesn’t matter. “I’m not playing, they are.” The differences in the narrator and Noburo Watanabe are extensive. An important thing to point out at first, is the fact that Watanabe has a name at all. Very few, if any characters even receive names in Murakami’s stories. This name is important in that it symbolizes a place in reality. His place in reality is marked by his name and he conforms via that name. His sister will become a part of that reality when she takes this man’s name. Thus, as the representative of reality, Watanabe begins to destroy the narrator’s fantasy world. In the end of the story, after talking to this man and hearing how pathetic his life really is, he first feels the pointlessness of his life. His night out with the girl at the bar is miserable and that is the first mark of the destruction of his fantasy, drawing him into Watanabe’s reality. http://ezinearticles.com/?Haruki-Murakamis-The-Elephant-Vanishes&id=432064 http://www.scribd.com/doc/15280490/Murakami-Magic-Realism
Things to think about.. Last pg, “where were we headed? I wondered. But I was far too tired to think very deeply about such things. When I closed my eyes, sleep floated down on me like a dark, silent net.” We already know that he does see how pathetic his life is. But, does he actually change? This sentence said I wondered about it but was far too tired to think very deeply.. Does this mean that he is the same and won’t give it much thought?
What’s the story about.. The narrator in the story “Family Affair” lives a life in complete lavishness, an almost oblivious boredom, dating numerous girls, dining and getting drunk in bars, living an indifferent life without any values of importance. He dislikes his sister’s fiancé, Noboru Watanabe, The fiancé is a stereotypical Japanese man, a computer engineer, someone “under his father’s thumb.” Throughout the story, the narrator struggles to accept his sister’s choice and this signals his doubts about his life’s own importance. His idleness is threatened and he becomes even more aware of his “out-of-place-ness.”
A Comparison….. The Brother Noboru Watanabe Differences Was the sister’s hero Has an unusually strong liking for alcohol. Disrespects girls and treats them like objects. Similarities