Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Miss Saeki Character Analysis

As a middle aged woman, Miss Saeki runs the Komura Memorial Library. The library is a special place for her—it is named after Miss Saeki’s first and only love, a young man in the Komura family who died at the age of twenty. Miss Saeki and Komura were childhood sweethearts who believed they were meant to be together. As a teenager, Miss Saeki wrote the song “Kafka on the Shore” to express her love for Komura. Now, the song is a painful reminder of the past. Miss Saeki has never overcome the pain of losing her first love and remains aloof from others. Kafka is captivated by her beauty and intelligence, feeling attracted to her as both a romantic partner and mother figure—an example of the Oedipal theme prevalent in this book.

Miss Saeki Quotes in Kafka on the Shore

The Kafka on the Shore quotes below are all either spoken by Miss Saeki or refer to Miss Saeki. 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.
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 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 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 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 42 Quotes

He’d resigned himself to the fact that it was only a matter of time before this day came. But now that it had, and he was alone in this quiet room with a dead Miss Saeki, he was lost. He felt as if his heart had dried up.

Related Characters: Oshima (speaker), Miss Saeki
Page Number: 395
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:
Get the entire Kafka on the Shore LitChart as a printable PDF.
Kafka on the Shore PDF

Miss Saeki Character Timeline in Kafka on the Shore

The timeline below shows where the character Miss Saeki appears in Kafka on the Shore. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
...PM, Kafka pauses from his book to take a tour of the library lead by Miss Saeki , an extremely elegant middle-aged woman who runs the library. Kafka is struck by her... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...has nowhere to stay and asks Oshima for help. Surprisingly, Oshima has a solution: if Miss Saeki agrees, Kafka can live in the library. In the meantime, Oshima will take Kafka somewhere... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...“the accumulation of ominous prophecies come to life.” Then, he tells Kafka that he and Miss Saeki have agreed that he can stay at the library. (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
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 the oldest son of the... (full context)
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Music and Introspection Theme Icon
While her boyfriend was at university, Miss Saeki wrote a hauntingly beautiful song about her love for him. She was invited to Tokyo... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
Twenty years later, Miss Saeki returned to Takamatsu and took over the Komura Memorial Library, where her boyfriend had lived... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...boy sitting by the beach. He feels drawn to it, and wonders if it depicts Miss Saeki’s childhood sweetheart. (full context)
Chapter 23
Music and Introspection Theme Icon
...the Shore.” Oshima agrees to help, but warns Kafka never to play the song where Miss Saeki might hear. In the storeroom of the library, they find a working record player, but... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...the album confirms what Kafka already suspected—the girl who visited his room was a young Miss Saeki . Kafka is filled with questions. How can Miss Saeki have a ghost while she... (full context)
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...on the Shore” and that the desk where he sits is the exact spot where Miss Saeki wrote the song. Though the lyrics are abstract and nonsensical, Kafka becomes convinced that each... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...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... (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 away from home, and he tells her... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
...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... (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... (full context)
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The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
In the afternoon, Kafka takes some coffee up to Miss Saeki . Kafka tells Miss Saeki that he’s in love, but doesn’t reveal with whom. As... (full context)
Chapter 29
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
...he realizes she isn’t the young girl at all, but rather the real, middle aged Miss Saeki . She undresses and gets into bed with Kafka. He realizes she must be sleepwalking... (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 she remembers the night before, but... (full context)
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...He says he believes his father wanted to die because he was in love with Miss Saeki , and, after she left the family, delivered the prophecy that Kafka would murder him... (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,... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
That night, Miss Saeki —the real one—comes into Kafka’s room. This time, she doesn’t seem to be sleepwalking. She... (full context)
Chapter 33
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
...at the library to work out at the gym and puzzle through his relationship with Miss Saeki . The boy named Crow tells Kafka that he’s trapped—in the relationship as well as... (full context)
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...Kafka. Oshima warns him that true freedom and independence are unlikely to be achievable.Kafka brings Miss Saeki some coffee, and she asks about his trip to the gym. He says he wants... (full context)
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Miss Saeki brings up the night before, and says she thinks she might have been making up... (full context)
Chapter 35
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The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...if everything is converging on one point. He also thinks its best if Kafka and Miss Saeki spend some time apart—Oshima knows they’ve been sleeping together, and he is worried because he... (full context)
Chapter 37
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...the cabin, where Oshima reiterates that he thinks it would be best for Kafka and Miss Saeki to spend some time apart. Kafka reluctantly agrees, but says it’s difficult not knowing whether... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
That night, Kafka thinks about Miss Saeki . Crow points out that while Kafka is little more than a child, full of... (full context)
Chapter 39
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Music and Introspection Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
Fate and Prophecy Theme Icon
That night, Kafka wishes Miss Saeki would appear, but again, she does not. Instead, he has a vivid dream about Sakura—a... (full context)
Chapter 40
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In the afternoon, Nakata and Hoshino join Miss Saeki’s tour of the library. After the brief tour, they settle back in to read, but... (full context)
Chapter 42
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Nakata takes a seat in Miss Saeki’s office. They both feel as if they have been waiting for each other. Miss Saeki... (full context)
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Miss Saeki says that she knows about the entrance stone, and that in fact she opened the... (full context)
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After the library closes, Oshima goes upstairs to Miss Saeki’s office. She is facedown on her desk—dead. Although he had been prepared for this moment,... (full context)
Chapter 43
The Mind vs. The Body Theme Icon
The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 44
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Hoshino and Nakata burn Miss Saeki’s files in a dry river bed. Nakata says that he has to take a nap,... (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... (full context)
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The Virtues of Self-Sufficiency Theme Icon
At midday, the middle-aged version of Miss Saeki arrives, and sits with Kafka for a cup of tea. She tells him that she... (full context)
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...glances back and suddenly feels like he can’t possibly go on. After all, the young Miss Saeki is still down there. But with effort, he forces himself to continue walking. The entrance... (full context)
Chapter 49
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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 predestined, as did... (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 he did the right... (full context)