Kafka on the Shore

by

Haruki Murakami

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Kafka on the Shore published in 2006.
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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 8 Quotes

It might sound strange to put it this way, but it seemed like the real Nakata had gone off somewhere, leaving behind for a time the fleshy container, which in his absence kept all his bodily functions going at the minimum level needed to preserve itself. The term “spirit projection” sprang to mind.

Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

I didn’t cry at all. I already knew that somewhere, on some distant battlefield, my husband would lose his life. Ever since the year before, when all those things I just wrote about took place—that erotic dream my period starting ahead of time, hitting Nakata, the children falling into that mysterious coma—I’d accepted my husband’s death as inevitable, as something fated to be. So news of his death merely confirmed what I already knew.

Related Characters: Setsuko Okamochi (speaker)
Page Number: 103-104
Explanation and Analysis:
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 20 Quotes

Experience had taught him it was better not to let on that he didn’t know how to read. Because if he did, people stared at him like he was some kind of monster.

Related Characters: Satoru Nakata
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 21 Quotes

“My father told me there was nothing I could to escape this fate. That prophecy is like a timing device buried inside my genes, and nothing can ever change it. I will kill my father and be with my mother and sister.

Page Number: 202
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 32 Quotes

“I used to be normal, just like everybody else. But something happened and I ended up like a container with nothing inside.”

“Yeah, but if you look at it like that we’re all pretty much empty, don’t you think?”

Related Characters: Satoru Nakata (speaker), Hoshino
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 34 Quotes

Listening to Fournier’s flowing, dignified cello, Hoshino was drawn back to his childhood. He used to go to the river every day to catch fish. Nothing to worry about back then, he reminisced. Just live each day as it came. As long as I was alive, I was something.

Related Characters: Hoshino (speaker)
Page Number: 328
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 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 46 Quotes

“But when I listen to this music it’s like Beethoven’s right here talking to me, telling me something like, It’s ok, Hoshino, don’t worry about it. That’s life. I’ve done some pretty awful things in my life too. Not much you can do about it. Things happen. You just got to hang in there.

Related Characters: Hoshino (speaker)
Page Number: 430
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 48 Quotes

“I think that whenever something happens in the future I’ll always wonder—What would Mr. Nakata say about this? What would Mr. Nakata do? I’ll always have someone I can turn to. And that’s kind of a big deal, if you think about it. It’s like part of you will always live inside me.

Related Characters: Hoshino (speaker), Satoru Nakata
Page Number: 455
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:
No matches.