Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Telling Kafka that he will return in a couple of days, Oshima drives away in the Miata, leaving Kafka alone in the dark woods. Kafka tries to get to sleep in his sleeping bag, but it is oppressively dark and silent. he can’t shake the feeling he’s being watched. In his head, Crow mocks him for being afraid of something so harmless as the dark. Kafka reminds himself that Oshima, too, spent time here alone as a teenager, and must have experienced the same solitude and fear. That thought comforts him, and he drifts off to sleep.
In the cabin, Kafka’s ability to thrive on his own is put to an extreme test. As Kafka struggles to sleep in the dark, he turns to Crow for help—but, instead of offering counsel, Crow is critical, teasing Kafka for his weakness. Kafka realizes that his shared experience with Oshima can be a source of strength. In this way, Kafka is reminded that relying on others can help him to be stronger, and that even the most seemingly isolating experiences can be a source of connection to others.
Themes
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
Related Quotes
After making some breakfast and exploring the stream by the cabin, Kafka settles down with a book about Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi who was responsible for inventing ways to kill Jews during World War II. Previously, the book belonged to Oshima, and Kafka sees that Oshima has scribbled some margin notes: “Our responsibility begins with the power to imagine.” Thinking about his blood-stained shirt, the words resonate with Kafka. He worries that he will be held responsible for the contents of his dreams, even if he has no control over them. He also thinks about asking Sakura if he could imagine her naked, and decides again that what he imagines is very important—“for the entire world.”
In this scene, Kafka solidifies and brings out into the open a mindset that has driven him throughout the novel. Reinforced by his reading about Eichmann, Kafka believes that people are responsible for not just their actions but also the contents of their thoughts. This is a mindset that puts him constantly on edge, especially because he feels like he has no control over some of his deepest and most subconscious desires.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Despite Oshima’s warning, Kafka decides to venture into the woods. Almost immediately, he becomes disoriented and is chilled by the thought that he won’t be able to find the cabin again. Carefully, he retraces his steps and finds his way back. He feels awed by the power of the forest, which could swallow him whole. To bring himself back to reality, he listens to Cream and Duke Ellington on his Walkman. After working out and eating dinner, Kafka sits under the stars. Once again, he is awed by the vastness and power of nature—and afraid. Looking at the stars makes him feel watched and helpless, a feeling he worries he will never outrun. He falls asleep wishing Sakura were his real sister.
As Kafka adapts to life in the woods, he confronts the experience of being totally alone in nature. Total isolation gives him the opportunity to start noticing and appreciating nature for the first time, demonstrating one benefit of such isolation. Kafka also learns that music has the power to ground him, providing comfort in times of loneliness. At the same time, total isolation has also left Kafka alone with his insecurities, which only intensify. As he reflects on his journey so far, he is once again struck by the horrible sensation that he is trapped on a predetermined path. Isolation in the forest is both helping him to grow and bringing out some of his worst, most irrational fears.
Themes
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
On the second day, Kafka repeats the same routine, this time venturing slightly deeper into the forest. His feeling of helplessness has melted away, and he makes his way easily back to the cabin. In the afternoon, he washes himself in a rainstorm, which leaves him feeling purified and calm. Yet, in his mind, Crow warns that the calm won’t last long. Inevitably, says Crow, Kafka will dream about raping his mother or sister. He worries about the consequences of his dreams and imagination, and thinks that, ultimately, those are things he cannot control. Shortly after, the batteries in Kafka’s Walkman die, leaving him in a thick silence.
Over the course of a few days in the woods, Kafka’s relationship with isolation has evolved. After just a couple of days, he has begun to see the beauty of nature and appreciate the clarity and calm that being alone has allowed him to experience. At the same time, an inner voice that he can’t seem to silence—in the form of Crow—continues to toy with the idea that powerful forces within Kafka’s mind will overwhelm him with illicit thoughts and bring more evil into the world.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
Music and Introspection Theme Icon
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