Empty handed and unafraid, Kafka forges into the forest, as if going towards the heart of a labyrinth. He has the feeling that the forest is a part of him, and he’s actually journeying deeper into himself. He thinks about his cruel father, dying in the empty house. He thinks about his mother, and wonders why she didn’t love him. He remembers his mother leaving, and thinks that if she is Miss Saeki, he can’t understand why she would do that.
To help himself work through the turmoil he has carried throughout the book, Kafka imagines his psyche in physical form as the forest. If he can conquer the forest, he feels he will have also conquered his own fears and past. In this scene, Kafka’s insecurities and indeed his entire identity is defined by his relationships to adults who have let him down. Obsessed with the past and those who abandoned him, Kafka is unable to move forward or find peace with himself.
Kafka feels himself turn into a black crow. Crow tells Kafka that his mother did love him, and that by forgiving her or moving on, Kafka has the power to repair himself. He believes that his mother, possibly Miss Saeki, was scared and angry when she left, but he can’t figure out why. As he thinks about it more, he grows more and more confused. Why is love—the love he feels for his mother, the love he feels for Miss Saeki—so painful? Frustrated, Crow flies away.
Crow, who often serves as a voice of reason within Kafka, tries to point out that Kafka is destroying himself by fixating on these past toxic relationships. Crow warns that Kafka should forgive others so that he can focus on himself, because dwelling on past relationships in such a way can be all-consuming. But, overwhelmed with emotion, Kafka is unable to take this advice. Instead of trusting his inner voice of reason, he gives way to his darker emotions.
Soon, two soldiers appear. They’re wearing old uniforms from World War II. They tell Kafka that they’re the soldiers who wandered off during training. They hoped to avoid killing or being killed, and have been hiding in the woods ever since. They tell him they’re guarding the entrance, which is temporarily open. They ask if Kafka wants to enter, and he says that he does. He follows them down the path.
Once Kafka casts off this logical part of himself, he enters into a surreal situation. Kafka has committed to trying to understand his past relationships rather than trying to simply move on, and so ventures deeper into the dangerous woods of his mind.