Pascal Gunsch

WT1 Kafka on the Shore

Rationale

I have written two memoires from Miss Saeki from Haruki Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore. In the end the novel, she hands over a pile of papers, which contain the story of her life, to Nakata, asking him to burn them for her. I tried to reconstruct two parts of those papers. I have chosen this type of writing because it is a way to show deeper understanding of the novel.

I found both the reason why she wrote the papers, as well as the reason why she wrote the song, suitable parts to write about. This is because these things aren’t fully explained in the book, though many different – and often contradictory – hints are given. It is, for example, not clear whether she is Kafka’s mother, and neither is her relationship with Kafka or with the boy she loved before him.

The audience of these memoires is only Miss Saeki, though she wrote them in such a way that anyone would be able to understand her. Therefore I tried to describe the events clearly and in such a way, that someone who didn’t read the book would still understand it. I also tried to keep the elegance and calmness of Miss Saeki in the writing.

The task links to the course ‘Part 4: Literature critical analysis’. I tried to refer to some of the themes in the book, such as ‘music as a communicative medium’ and ‘the threat of fate’ to show how they fit in the context. Furthermore, I focussed on the personalisation of Miss Saeki.

Total word count of the rationale: 259 words

Written task

Fragment A:

Today I have finally returned to my hometown. I have travelled to all corners of the country and have visited many different villages and towns, but this is the town where I was born, where I was raised and where I will die. This is where my journey will end.

It seems as if it was only yesterday that I left this town. I can remember the train station, the broad streets, the library… I can barely imagine how I once was so eager to keep those memories, so desperate to hold on to them, so afraid to lose them. Now I only feel regret for being so ignorant, because the only thing I long for at this moment is getting rid of them. I want to make them vanish like smoke in the wind. Memories warm you up from the inside. But they also tear you apart. I think that by now, I have been torn apart more than anyone can handle, but still I deserve this suffering more than anyone else and I have to accept the consequences of my actions. However, I have to lose them but I don’t know how or where to begin. There is so much of them, and so much emotion attached to them. The least I can do is start where it all began.

I have cherished the memory of the day my love left for Tokyo more than any other. It was a warm and sunny day in August, 1971. The 23rd to be exact. It was at the end of the summer holidays. Though that day it was warmer than before, those months were warm and we went to the beach very often. It was the same beach where they painted him sitting on a chair, watching how new waves form and others collide, to ultimately wash on the shore.

He had turned eighteen earlier that month. I have known him since I was a kid. At first we were good friends, but soon it became clear that we were made for each other. We were deeply in love and everything was perfect and complete. But of course perfect things can’t last for long and he had to move to Tokyo for his study. The fact that he had to leave and I had to stay was terrible, and after his departure, the only emotions I could feel were loneliness, sadness and despair. It felt like I could never feel happiness again. The little world we had created and had lived in started to collapse and I didn’t want to believe, let alone accept it. I wanted to save this collapsing world more than anything else, no matter the consequences.

Fragment B:

All those strange events that had happened to me, I didn’t quite know how to handle them. That old man offering his help, the sudden appearance of an entrance stone, the soldiers from the war, the city in the crater, I just didn’t know what happened. At least I knew that I could be sure that my memories would be eternal, no matter what. Better yet, I knew that the fifteen-year old version of me, deeply in love, would be eternal. Surely, it comforted me to know that I had secured the little world we had created, that I had sealed it so that time didn’t play a role anymore. Actually, I was quite proud on myself for achieving this, I was sure I wouldn’t regret the consequences at all.

The only thing I worried about is the warning of those soldiers. They told me that leaving this place will unbalance the world, that eventually everything will be restored, and that my actions will affect not only myself but many others, and the world around us. The strangest thing was that they said because of me, it will one day rain fish. However, I took these warnings as granted and accepted the consequences.

I wanted him to know about it, the entrance stone, the soldiers, the forest, the city, the warning, but I surely couldn’t tell him what had happened. I wasn’t sure if he’d believe me in the first place. I decided to tell him in a song, written only for him. This way, I could indirectly say what I saw and experienced at the other side. I could mention every single detail and though I didn’t understand most of the things that had happened, I could try to explain the things I knew.

My piano skills would come in handy. I know about all the rhythms, tones, and chords. Well, all chords but the two I heard at the other side. But I’m sure I will find out how to play them, I definitely want to use them. The title of the song would without doubt be Kafka on the Shore, referring to his painting in his room.

Total word count of the written task: 810 words

Bibliography

Murakami, H. (2005). Kafka on the Shore. New York: Vintage Books.

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