Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At the Komura library, Oshima offers Kafka some lunch and engages him in a conversation about the turn-of-the-century Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki. Crow helps Kafka put his feelings about the writer into words. Oshima says he believes Goethe’s sentiment that “everything’s a metaphor.”
Kafka feels like Crow can articulate ideas that Kafka has a hard time putting into words, but Crow is part of Kafka—a type of coping mechanism that Kafka employs as he gathers his thoughts. Oshima’s assertion that everything is a metaphor becomes more relevant as the story unfolds and different characters are revealed to symbolize or “twin” other characters, just as one thing twins another in a metaphor.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Put at ease by the conversation, Kafka reveals that he has nowhere to stay and asks Oshima for help. Surprisingly, Oshima has a solution: if Miss Saeki agrees, Kafka can live in the library. In the meantime, Oshima will take Kafka somewhere he can stay for the night. Kafka is surprised but grateful.
Kafka realizes that, paradoxically, in order to maintain his status as an independent runaway, he must ask for help and advice. The risk pays off, and Kafka learns he can trust Oshima when Oshima offers to help.
Themes
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
When the library closes, Kafka and Oshima get in Oshima’s green Mazda Miata and speed off down the highway. Oshima tells Kafka that he has hemophilia, a condition that would make even a slight injury potentially fatal. Normally, he is quite cautious, but he drives at reckless speeds because he would prefer to die instantly in a crash than to slowly bleed to death. Reasonably, Kafka finds this revelation unsettling. But Oshima reassures him that since he isn’t planning on dying that evening, getting into a crash simply “isn’t an option.”
Oshima reveals a frustrating limitation of his body, one that makes him feel as if he is trapped inside his skin. Such a condition is another of the many ways Murakami explores the idea of a sense of self that is at odds with, yet nonetheless tethered to, the physical body. Oshima’s belief that he can predict or control the moment of his death leads him to act confidently, even recklessly.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
To further this point, Oshima puts Schubert’s Sonata in D Major on the CD player. He explains that it is extremely difficult to play the Sonata without errors, while still preserving its feeling, so most performances are slightly imperfect in a way he finds enjoyable. If he were to listen to a perfect piece of music, Oshima says, he would probably close his eyes and die right there. As the Miata speeds down increasingly dangerous mountain roads, Kafka decides not to worry about a fatal crash, because Oshima has made it clear that he has no intention of dying.
Oshima’s confidence is contagious, and soon Kafka is calmed because he, too, has the sense that Oshima has complete control over his destiny. That sense is bolstered by Oshima’s ideas about music: Oshima reveals that he feels such an intense connection to classical music that to hear the perfect song would be to die. This makes him one of several characters in the novel that has a special relationship to music.
Themes
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Music and Introspection Theme Icon
Related Quotes
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Finally, several hours after they leave the library, Kafka and Oshima arrive at a small log cabin deep in the forest. Oshima tells Kafka that his brother, a surfer in Kochi, built the cabin on mountain land that has been in their family for generations. When Oshima was young, his brother practically forced him to live in isolation in the cabin for stretches at a time; now, Oshima sees that he needed the experience. The cabin is sparse, without electricity or running water. Outside is a dense forest, and Oshima warns Kafka that he will almost certainly get lost if he ventures into the trees.
Nestled deep in the woods, the cabin is the ultimate site of independence and isolation. Oshima hints at some of the strong, contradictory feelings that such an arrangement can excite—both feelings of being trapped alone, and, in retrospect, a sense that the experience of being so isolated helped him to grow.
Themes
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon