Norwegian Wood

She Once Had Me: The Significance of the Women in Norwegian Wood 11th Grade

The people in one's life are often more important in shaping one's future than the choices of that individual themselves. In Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood, the protagonist, Toru Watanabe, encounters various women who influence him and alter his outlook on life as he progresses through his relationship with his girlfriend, Naoko. Naoko herself is a reminder of adolescence and death to Watanabe; her mental instability is a reminder of the suicide of his best friend and therefore, he can only associate her with his past. Hatsumi, the girlfriend of Watanabe's profitable dorm mate, is an image of what Watanabe believes he wants in adulthood; she lives a comfortable and well-adjusted life, but she is disillusioned with her boyfriend’s frivolous behavior despite living with profit and prosperity. Reiko, Naoko's caretaker, is a reflection of what Watanabe can be; she proves that even those with broken lives can heal after she accepts her own failures and losses. Finally, Midori, who Watanabe eventually falls in love with, represents his future; she has cast off all regrets from her past and lives solely for every passing moment. The women in Norwegian Wood each represent a different time in Watanabe's life and shape his transition...

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