Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore: Chapter 39 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On his second day in the cabin, Kafka feels restless. He can’t seem to shake thoughts of Miss Saeki. After working out and listening to music, he ventures into the woods. He arrives at the clearing where the trees grow more dense, like a labyrinth, and decides to forge ahead. Trying to make himself feel afraid, he ventures into the dark forest until he isn’t sure how to get back. A crow squawks in warning. Somehow, he stumbles back to the clearing.
Kafka continues to be obsessed by his relationship to Miss Saeki, to the point that the usually grounding effects of music and physical exercise have no impact. Keeping Oshima’s warning in mind, he plunges into the woods, trying to affect his mind by plunging into the physical manifestation of his psyche.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Music and Introspection Theme Icon
Related Quotes
That night, Kafka wishes Miss Saeki would appear, but again, she does not. Instead, he has a vivid dream about Sakura—a dream so realistic he wonders if it might be reality. In the dream, Kafka slips into bed with Sakura, who is deep asleep. A crow caws loudly, but he can’t see it. As he begins to touch Sakura, he feels something within him struggling to break out of its shell. Feeling as if he can’t control himself, he begins to have sex with Sakura. She wakes up and tells him to stop and get out of her dream. She says she’s his sister, and it’s wrong for them to have sex. But he says it’s too late, and that he’s already decided to have sex with her.
Kafka is plagued by the idea that he is responsible for what happens in his dreams, and simultaneously the idea that his dreams are manifestations of subconscious desires outside of his control. This vivid dream is no exception. In the dream, Kafka is unable to resist the sharp pull of the prophecy, which says that he will sleep with his sister—represented in this moment by Sakura. As this is happening, Kafka is reminded again of the sensation that his body contains a destiny he inherited from his parents which he can’t control.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
Crow chimes in, telling Kafka that Kafka wants to feel in control. Because he’s already killed his father and slept with his mother, all that remains is to sleep with his sister, as he’s doing now. Fulfilling the prophecy is the only way to be free of it and go on living as he wants to. As he continues to have sex with Sakura, Kafka feels as if he’s in the forest, trying to remember the shape of the trees and find his way back, but it’s impossible. He orgasms and wakes up, feeling incredibly alone. Crow says that the thing inside Kafka, a dark shadow, has revealed itself.
Kafka has let his belief in the prophecy drive him to do the very thing he least wants to do, demonstrating that a blind belief in fate can cloud decision making in potentially disastrous ways. Kafka feels trapped in his decision to rape Sakura in the dream because of his father’s prophecy, which he feels is physically contained within his body. Because he also believes people are responsible for the contents of their dreams, he feels incredibly guilty about what has happened.
Themes
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon