Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore: Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In addition to the money, Kafka takes a cell phone, an old-fashioned lighter, and a small knife from his father’s study. He also takes an old photo of himself and his older sister standing on the beach many years ago. The photo fills him with questions—he can’t remember the trip to the beach, or his mother or sister.
Kafka’s decision to take only what he needs most from his father’s study reflects his commitment to making it on his own as a runaway. The photo reminds him of how alone he feels, with no memory of his mother and sister. Kafka has turned his sense of isolation and loneliness in his family into a determination to escape and live on his own.
Themes
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
Hoping not to stand out as a runaway, Kafka strategically packs a small backpack with clothes. He decides to head for someplace warm so that he won’t need as many supplies. Kafka has also spent years working out so that he can be physically strong and appear older. He spends most of his time studying and reading alone, avoiding his father and staying isolated from his peers.
Again, the reader is clued into the elaborate, strategic preparations that Kafka has made to ensure his success and self-sufficiency. Kafka’s years of physical and mental exercises demonstrate that he hopes to hone his body and mind like tools, despite the sense of turmoil he often feels.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
As Kafka washes up and prepares to leave home, his mind returns to a familiar, dark place. Kafka imagines that deep within his body is a pool of dark water, threatening to drown him at any moment. Kafka imagines a dangerous “mechanism” hidden within his DNA, an omen that he cannot escape.
Kafka is obsessed with the idea that, deep within his body, there is some kind of physical manifestation of the evil his father passed on to him. If Kafka isn’t careful, he worries, this darkness will overwhelm him.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Kafka decides to head from his home in Tokyo towards Takamtsu, in Shikoku, Western Japan. He leaves the house and boards a bus headed West. Even as he drifts off to sleep on the speeding bus, Kafka can feel the omen following him.
Despite putting physical distance between himself and his father, Kafka feels as if there is a dark omen following him. Kafka’s belief in this omen shapes how he perceives everything around him, even when things are going well.
Themes
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
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