Kafka on the Shore


Haruki Murakami

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Kafka on the Shore: Chapter 41 Summary & Analysis

Kafka returns to the woods with a number of supplies, including gloves, a knife, a compass, and some yellow spray paint. As he heads deeper into the woods, he marks each tree with some paint, leaving a trail back to the cabin. He feels like he’s being watched. He thinks about the soldiers practicing in the forest before World War II.
Kafka, always hoping to be prepared and self-sufficient, gathers up supplies. He is hoping to venture into the woods without risking too much.
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Kafka’s mind wanders back to Sakura and the night before. Again, he thinks that if he’s already killed his father and had sex with his mother, he has to fulfill the prophecy by sleeping with his sister so that he can be free of the omen. Crow, walking behind him, says that he shouldn’t have raped Sakura, even in a dream. Crow says that even if Kafka completes the parts of the prophecy, it will still be inside him, inside his DNA, his breath, and the confusion inside him. Crow says Kafka has to face the fear and anger inside him, and melt the coldness in his heart—and then he really will be the toughest fifteen-year-old in the world. He can reclaim himself.
Soon, it becomes clear that Kafka’s journey into the woods is no easy task. Kafka returns to his fixation on the prophecy and feels again that he is trapped on a path he does not want to follow. Worse, his sense of being trapped extends beyond the prophecy itself to encompass his entire life, because even if he vanquishes the prophecy, his body will still be tainted by his parents. Crow counsels him again to let go of the toxic relationships eating away at him so he can truly focus on independence and healing.
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But Kafka suddenly feels confused, like he’s lost in a labyrinth. He feels hollow, like there’s nothing that makes him real. Crow has vanished, and Kafka wants to disappear, as well. He thinks the only way to escape the prophecy is to die. He tosses away his survival and navigation gear and heads into the trees.
Kafka is unable to follow Crow’s counsel and soon loses control. Like Oshima and Miss Saeki, he becomes convinced that death is the only way for him to control his own fate. In throwing off his survival gear, he abandons the pretense of making himself strong and self-sufficient.
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