Kafka tries to stay awake so that he will not miss the moment that the living ghost arrives, but he does anyway. Suddenly, the young Miss Saeki is sitting at his desk, contemplating the painting of the boy on the shore. Kafka’s heart pounds, and for a moment, she seems to be able to hear it. But then, like the night before, she quietly leaves. Kafka realizes that both he and the girl are in love with someone no longer of this world: he is in love with her, and she is in love with the boy in the painting.
Both Kafka and young Miss Saeki are haunted by connections from their past—Miss Saeki with her boyfriend and Kafka with the mother who abandoned him. Because they are both unable to let go of these connections from the past, they are both haunted.
Early the next morning, Kafka walks on the beach and realizes that he’s jealous of the boy in the painting. In his head, Crow tells Kafka that Kafka wishes he could switch places with Miss Saeki’s teenage boyfriend, even if that would mean dying a premature and pointless death. It is a more intense and painful emotion than any Kafka has felt before. Crow says it is as if he has wandered into “a labyrinth of time,” and he has no desire to escape.
Kafka’s desire to be loved and his fear of abandonment are so intense that he would rather die than face life alone. Even though Kafka has trained himself physically and mentally to be independent and self-sufficient as a teenager, these strong desires keep him from being happy by himself.
Later that day at the library, Oshima and Kafka discuss the dreamlike lyrics of “Kafka on the Shore.” They both agree that the lyrics feel meaningful and urgent, yet their symbolism remains hard to grasp. Suddenly, Kafka poses the question that has been weighing heavily on his mind. He asks if Oshima thinks it’s possible that Miss Saeki could be his mother. He has a number of reasons for suspecting this: the mysterious gap in Miss Saeki’s life story lines up with when Kafka was born; Kafka felt pulled by fate to the library; and, most convincing of all, he is in love with Miss Saeki. Oshima is skeptical, but he doesn’t rule out the theory.
Kafka makes explicit the connection between his desire for Miss Saeki and his belief that she could be his mother. This connection demonstrates two things: first, that Kafka’s fear of abandonment is driving him towards a potentially unhealthy attachment; and second, that Kafka’s obsession with the so-called prophecy about his family is affecting his perception of Miss Saeki. Kafka’s circular logic is that the prophecy proves itself: because he is in love with Miss Saeki, she must be his mother, and vice versa. Kafka’s overwhelming belief in such a destiny leads him to conclude that everything that has happened to him in Takamatsu is the result of fate, and not his own decision making.
Later in the afternoon, Kafka takes some coffee up to Miss Saeki in her office. She asks why he ran away from home, and he tells her it was to avoid becoming damaged by his family. Miss Saeki reflects that when she was fifteen, she simply wanted to escape to another world outside of time and preserve the fleeting happiness that she felt then. In comparison, she says, Kafka is very strong and independent. She observes that he looks like a boy she knew once. Just as Kafka is leaving the office, Miss Saeki tells him that she once wrote a book about people who had been struck by lightning. That fact seems strangely important to Kafka, but he’s not sure why.
Miss Saeki’s reflections on her past show that she, too, is haunted by a lost loved one and has been unable to move on. Even when he was alive, Miss Saeki’s overwhelming attachment to her boyfriend kept her from enjoying life. Meanwhile, Kafka thinks that running away from his family has allowed him to escape those damaging connections and focus on himself, but instead he has simply found a new way to obsess over his connection to his past in the form of Miss Saeki.
That night, Kafka listens to “Kafka on the Shore” again, musing that the ghost girl must have found the other world Miss Saeki longed for. Suddenly, Kafka remembers that his father was once struck by lightning. He wonders if Miss Saeki met him while working on her book. It feels as if there are too many coincidences drawing them together—as if everything is speeding towards some unknown destination.