Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Kafka Tamura Character Analysis

Kafka is one of the two protagonists of the novel, serving as the narrator for half of the chapters in the book. At the opening of the story, Kafka has just turned fifteen and decided to run away from home. Kafka is obsessed by fate, plagued by a fear that he will fulfill a prediction made by his cruel and distant father: that Kafka will kill his father, and have sex with his mother and sister, both of whom left the family when Kafka was a young child. This fear not only sets Kafka on his transformative journey but also makes him worry that every woman he meets could be his mother or sister. He constantly feels guilt, worrying that his dreams and desires have the power to affect things in real life. Kafka attempts to make himself stronger and smarter by constantly working out and reading, but he worries that he will always be unhappy because of his family. Although Kafka prides himself on his self-sufficiency and independence, he eventually forms close bonds with Oshima, Miss Saeki, and Sakura, and, with their help, begins to make peace with his longing for his absent mother.

Kafka Tamura Quotes in Kafka on the Shore

The Kafka on the Shore quotes below are all either spoken by Kafka Tamura or refer to Kafka Tamura. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Kafka on the Shore published in 2006.
The Boy Named Crow Quotes

Sometimes fate is like a sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change directions but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn. Why? Because this storm isn’t something that blew in from far away, something that has nothing to do with you. This storm is you. Something inside of you.

Related Characters: The Boy Called Crow (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Related Symbols: Crows
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“‘Even chance meetings’… how does the rest of that go?”

“‘Are the result of karma.’”

“Right, right,” she says. “But what does it mean?”

“That things in life are fated by our previous lives. That even in the smallest events there’s no such thing as coincidence.”

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Sakura (speaker)
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

“In ancient times, people weren’t just male or female, but one of three types: male/male, male/female, or female/female. In other words, each person was made out of the components of two people. Everyone was happy with this arrangement and never really gave it much thought. But then God took a knife and cut everybody in half, right down the middle. So after that the world was divided just into male and female, the upshot being that people spend their time running around trying to locate their missing other half.”

Oshima and Kafka have just met for the first time. Oshima engages Kafka in a surprisingly deep conversation about the nature of the soul. Indeed, this quote reveals much about Oshima’s worldview, and foreshadows later conversations he will have with Kafka, as their friendship develops, about his own gender identity. Oshima’s story helps to explain why many characters in the novel feel as if they are being drawn towards each other by forces outside of their control or knowledge, as well as why characters feel so comfortable with each other so soon after meeting: perhaps they are actually two halves of the same soul, reunited at last. However, another side to that theory is that soulmates are codependent—and, until they meet, are less than complete. One possible danger of a belief in soulmates is that it suggests that someone who has not found their soul mate is less than whole, and therefore cannot possibly have a fulfilling life. Finally, Oshima’s story relates to his gender identity, something that he keeps private from Kafka until later. Oshima identifies as a gay transgender man, but because he faces prejudice from others who don’t know about his identity or perceive him as female, Oshima often feels conflicted about his gender, making him another example of the ways in which the novel deals with the split between the mind (or the self) and the body.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Oshima (speaker)
Page Number: 39
Chapter 13 Quotes

“If I listen to some utterly perfect performance of an utterly perfect piece while I’m driving, I might want to close my eyes and die right then and there. But listening to the D major, I can feel the limits of what humans are capable of—that a certain type of perfection can only be realized through a limitless accumulation of the imperfect. And personally, I find that encouraging.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 111-112
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

I’m being tested, I tell myself. Oshima spent a few days alone here, too, when he was about my age. He must have been scared out of his wits, same as me. That’s what he meant by solitude comes in different varieties. Oshima knows exactly how I feel being here alone at night, because he’s gone through the same thing, and felt the same emotions.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Oshima
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 17 Quotes

“Miss Saeki’s life basically stopped at age twenty, when her lover died. No, maybe not age twenty, maybe much earlier…I don’t know the details, but you need to be aware of this. The hands of the clock buried inside her soul ground to a halt then.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura, Miss Saeki
Page Number: 161
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 19 Quotes

“But what disgusts me even more are people who have no imagination. The kind T.S. Eliot calls hollow men. People who fill up that lack of imagination with heartless bits of straw, not even aware of what they’re doing.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 23 Quotes

One by one the words find a home in my heart. It’s a weird feeling. Images beyond any meaning arise like cutout figures and stand alone, just like when I’m in the middle of a deep dream.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Miss Saeki
Page Number: 228
Explanation and Analysis:

The drowning girl’s fingers

Search for the entrance stone, and more.

Lifting the hem of her azure dress,

She gazes—

at Kafka on the shore.

The lyrics to “Kafka on the Shore” speak deeply to Kafka, serving as one of many pieces of real or imagined evidence convincing him that he is being drawn to Miss Saeki by fate. Indeed, there are many references in the song tying different elements of the book together, adding a note of surrealism and coincidence that helps explain why characters like Kafka might believe so strongly in fate. The most obvious instance of this is the connection to Kafka’s name, which seems especially powerful because he chose the name “Kafka” for himself. The reference to the “search for the entrance stone” connects Miss Saeki and Kafka’s story to that of Hoshino and Nakata, reinforcing the suspicion of many characters in the book that their lives are on predetermined paths.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Miss Saeki
Page Number: 252
Chapter 25 Quotes

I breathe very quietly, waiting for the dawn. A cloud parts, and moonlight shines down on the trees in the garden. There are just too many coincidences. Everything seems to be speeding up, rushing towards one destination.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker)
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 31 Quotes

“I had something too complete, too perfect, once, and afterward all I could do was despise myself. That’s the curse I can never escape. So I’m not afraid of death.”

Related Characters: Miss Saeki (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 35 Quotes

“There are a lot of things that aren’t your fault. Or mine, either. Not the fault of prophecies, or curses, or DNA, or absurdity. Not the fault of structuralism or the Third Industrial Revolution. We all die and disappear, but that’s because the mechanism of the world itself is built on destruction and loss.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 336
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 37 Quotes

“I know how you feel,” he finally says. “But this is something you have to figure out on your own. Nobody can help you. That’s what love’s all about, Kafka.”

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Kafka Tamura, Miss Saeki
Page Number: 351
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 39 Quotes

What makes sense, what doesn’t, it’s all mixed up. Above me, a crow gives out a piercing caw that sounds like a warning, it’s so jarring. I stop and cautiously survey my surroundings.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker)
Related Symbols: Crows
Page Number: 367
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 41 Quotes

“You have to overcome the fear and anger inside you,” the boy named Crow says. “Let a bright light shine in and melt the coldness in your heart. That’s what being tough is all about.”

Related Characters: The Boy Called Crow (speaker), Kafka Tamura
Page Number: 387
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 47 Quotes

Mother, you say. I forgive you. And with those words, audibly, the frozen part of your heart crumbles.

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Miss Saeki
Page Number: 442
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 49 Quotes

“It’s not something you can get across in words. The real response is something words can’t express.”

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Oshima’s Brother
Page Number: 459
Explanation and Analysis:

“I appreciate it,” I say. “But that’s just a dream too.”

Related Characters: Kafka Tamura (speaker), Sakura
Page Number: 466
Explanation and Analysis:
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Kafka on the Shore PDF

Kafka Tamura Character Timeline in Kafka on the Shore

The timeline below shows where the character Kafka Tamura appears in Kafka on the Shore. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Boy Named Crow
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Fifteen-year-old Kafka Tamura, who is preparing to run away from home, sits in his father’s study with... (full context)
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Crow warns Kafka that he will have to weather a storm—a storm that he will not be able... (full context)
Chapter 1
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In addition to the money, Kafka takes a cell phone, an old-fashioned lighter, and a small knife from his father’s study.... (full context)
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Hoping not to stand out as a runaway, Kafka strategically packs a small backpack with clothes. He decides to head for someplace warm so... (full context)
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As Kafka washes up and prepares to leave home, his mind returns to a familiar, dark place.... (full context)
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Kafka decides to head from his home in Tokyo towards Takamtsu, in Shikoku, Western Japan. He... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Kafka awakens as his bus pulls off the highway into a rest area. As he’s sipping... (full context)
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Back on the bus, the girl falls asleep leaning on Kafka’s shoulder. Glancing at her body, Kafka feels extremely attracted to her—until he suddenly wonders if... (full context)
Chapter 5
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As the bus arrives in Takamatsu, Kafka introduces himself to the girl next to him, who is named Sakura (a different name,... (full context)
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Feeling free and independent, Kafka checks into a local hotel and heads to the Komura Memorial Library outside of town.... (full context)
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At 2:00 PM, Kafka pauses from his book to take a tour of the library lead by Miss Saeki,... (full context)
Chapter 7
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After consulting with Crow about the best course of action, Kafka bluffs his way into extending his student rate at the hotel in Takamatsu without revealing... (full context)
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Kafka spends another day reading at the Komura library, and reveals to Oshima that he never... (full context)
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For the next week, Kafka falls into a lonely, orderly routine, spending mornings in the gym, afternoons at the library,... (full context)
Chapter 9
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Kafka suddenly wakes up lying on the damp ground beneath a bush on the grounds of... (full context)
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Kafka and Sakura discuss the blood on his shirt. Kafka worries that he has committed a... (full context)
Chapter 11
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In Sakura’s apartment, Kafka tells Sakura about running away from home and that his mother and sister left the... (full context)
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Before long, Sakura tells Kafka he can get into bed with her, but that they can’t have sex since she... (full context)
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The next morning, Kafka wakes to find that Sakura has gone to work, leaving him alone in the apartment.... (full context)
Chapter 13
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At the Komura library, Oshima offers Kafka some lunch and engages him in a conversation about the turn-of-the-century Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki.... (full context)
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Put at ease by the conversation, Kafka reveals that he has nowhere to stay and asks Oshima for help. Surprisingly, Oshima has... (full context)
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When the library closes, Kafka and Oshima get in Oshima’s green Mazda Miata and speed off down the highway. Oshima... (full context)
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...his eyes and die right there. As the Miata speeds down increasingly dangerous mountain roads, Kafka decides not to worry about a fatal crash, because Oshima has made it clear that... (full context)
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Finally, several hours after they leave the library, Kafka and Oshima arrive at a small log cabin deep in the forest. Oshima tells Kafka... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Telling Kafka that he will return in a couple of days, Oshima drives away in the Miata,... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Despite Oshima’s warning, Kafka decides to venture into the woods. Almost immediately, he becomes disoriented and is chilled by... (full context)
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On the second day, Kafka repeats the same routine, this time venturing slightly deeper into the forest. His feeling of... (full context)
Chapter 17
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By his third night in the cabin, Kafka feels a sense of peace and awe at nature. In the absence of his Walkman,... (full context)
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On the drive back to the city, Oshima observes that Kafka seems to be both seeking something and running away for all he’s worth, although Oshima... (full context)
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For the rest of the drive, Oshima tells Kafka the story of Miss Saeki’s troubled past. As a child, she fell in love with... (full context)
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...seems to be frozen in time, unable to move past her grief. Now, says Oshima, Kafka will take over the room where Miss Saeki’s boyfriend used to live. (full context)
Chapter 19
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Oshima helps Kafka settle into his spartan but comfortable room at the library, and shows him the basic... (full context)
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Kafka, too, is surprised. Oshima explains that he may be a little different, but he’s still... (full context)
Chapter 21
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Oshima gives Kafka a newspaper article titled, “SCULPTOR KOICHI TAMURA STABBED TO DEATH.” The article reports that Koichi,... (full context)
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Kafka says he doesn’t want to go to the police, because he doesn’t want to be... (full context)
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Kafka and Oshima decide Kafka will lay low in the library for a few days. Then,... (full context)
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Oshima points out that the prophecy can’t be true, because someone else killed Koichi. But Kafka is hesitant. He theorizes to Oshima that he may have killed his father in a... (full context)
Chapter 23
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In the middle of the night, Kafka awakes suddenly in his room in the library to see a young girl of about... (full context)
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The next day, Kafka asks Oshima if he can help him find an original record of “Kafka on the... (full context)
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...the record later that day. The picture on the cover of the album confirms what Kafka already suspected—the girl who visited his room was a young Miss Saeki. Kafka is filled... (full context)
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Back in his room, Kafka listens to the record several times. Though the lyrics are somewhat surreal, they begin to... (full context)
Chapter 25
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Kafka tries to stay awake so that he will not miss the moment that the living... (full context)
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Early the next morning, Kafka walks on the beach and realizes that he’s jealous of the boy in the painting.... (full context)
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Later that day at the library, Oshima and Kafka discuss the dreamlike lyrics of “Kafka on the Shore.” They both agree that the lyrics... (full context)
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Later in the afternoon, Kafka takes some coffee up to Miss Saeki in her office. She asks why he ran... (full context)
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That night, Kafka listens to “Kafka on the Shore” again, musing that the ghost girl must have found... (full context)
Chapter 27
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Once again, the young Miss Saeki appears in Kafka’s room late at night. This time, he calls out to her, saying her name over... (full context)
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...a detective stops by the library and chats with Oshima. Hoping to find and question Kafka, the police have tracked Koichi Tamura’s stolen cell phone to Takamatsu. Oshima covers for Kafka,... (full context)
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Oshima says the police also told him that Kafka had been suspended more than once for violence at school. Kafka admits that on a... (full context)
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In the afternoon, Kafka takes some coffee up to Miss Saeki. Kafka tells Miss Saeki that he’s in love,... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Feeling guilty about his abrupt departure from her apartment, Kafka calls Sakura to let her know he’s ok. She’s a little annoyed, but glad to... (full context)
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That night, Kafka wakes up as usual to the living ghost sitting at his desk. But something is... (full context)
Chapter 31
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In the afternoon, Kafka takes coffee up to Miss Saeki’s office. He studies her carefully for a sign that... (full context)
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In a rush, Kafka reveals the rest of his theory. He says he believes his father wanted to die... (full context)
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Then, Miss Saeki asks Kafka if he desires her, and he responds that he does—not just in theory, but in... (full context)
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That evening, Kafka and Oshima have dinner together. Kafka talks about the difficulty of being in love, and... (full context)
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That night, Miss Saeki—the real one—comes into Kafka’s room. This time, she doesn’t seem to be sleepwalking. She looks at the painting on... (full context)
Chapter 33
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Kafka takes the morning off from work at the library to work out at the gym... (full context)
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Back at the library, Oshima comments on the fact that Kafka took all of his possessions with him to the gym in his big backpack. He... (full context)
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...night before, and says she thinks she might have been making up for lost time. Kafka says that he is, too, in the sense that he’s trying to make up for... (full context)
Chapter 35
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Oshima wakes Kafka up with an early morning phone call and tells him to gather his things. Oshima... (full context)
Chapter 37
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Oshima and Kafka arrive at the cabin, where Oshima reiterates that he thinks it would be best for... (full context)
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As Oshima is leaving, he reiterates his warning to Kafka not to wander into the woods. He says that right before World War II, a... (full context)
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That night, Kafka thinks about Miss Saeki. Crow points out that while Kafka is little more than a... (full context)
Chapter 39
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On his second day in the cabin, Kafka feels restless. He can’t seem to shake thoughts of Miss Saeki. After working out and... (full context)
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That night, Kafka wishes Miss Saeki would appear, but again, she does not. Instead, he has a vivid... (full context)
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Crow chimes in, telling Kafka that Kafka wants to feel in control. Because he’s already killed his father and slept... (full context)
Chapter 41
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Kafka returns to the woods with a number of supplies, including gloves, a knife, a compass,... (full context)
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Kafka’s mind wanders back to Sakura and the night before. Again, he thinks that if he’s... (full context)
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But Kafka suddenly feels confused, like he’s lost in a labyrinth. He feels hollow, like there’s nothing... (full context)
Chapter 42
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...prepared for this moment, Oshima feels overwhelmed with loss. He realizes he needs to tell Kafka, but thinks that somehow, Kafka already  knows. (full context)
Chapter 43
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Empty handed and unafraid, Kafka forges into the forest, as if going towards the heart of a labyrinth. He has... (full context)
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Kafka feels himself turn into a black crow. Crow tells Kafka that his mother did love... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 45
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Kafka follows the soldiers down an increasingly dark and overgrown forest path. The soldiers commend Kafka... (full context)
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Alone in the cabin, Kafka falls asleep. When he awakens, it’s evening and he hears someone cooking in the kitchen.... (full context)
Chapter 47
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In the morning, the young version of Miss Saeki comes and makes Kafka breakfast. She tells him that soon, he’ll become a part of this place. She also... (full context)
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At midday, the middle-aged version of Miss Saeki arrives, and sits with Kafka for a cup of tea. She tells him that she burned up all her memories,... (full context)
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Kafka walks out to the forest, where the two soldiers are waiting. They tell him the... (full context)
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Somehow, Kafka stumbles back through the woods to Oshima’s cabin. Feeling as if waves are overcoming his... (full context)
Chapter 49
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To Kafka’s surprise, it is Oshima’s brother who picks him up from the cabin. On the drive... (full context)
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Back at the library, Oshima tells Kafka that Miss Saeki died of a heart attack. He says he believes that it was... (full context)
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At the train station, Kafka calls Sakura to tell her he’s going home. She tells him she had a dream... (full context)
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On the train, Kafka thinks about Miss Saeki and everything that has happened to him. Crow tells him that... (full context)