Norwegian Wood

The Strange and the Unusual: The Complexities of a Bildungsroman in 1960’s Tokyo College

Thrusting into the world of Tokyo in the 1960’s, Norwegian Wood is a novel by Haruki Murakami, which was published in 1987. At first seeming very foreign and obscure, Norwegian Wood proves that even over a span of nearly five decades, not much changes socially. Toru Watanabe is a college student in Tokyo, who falls in love with the attractive, but unsettled Naoko, and later on with the demonstrative, lively Midori. Watanabe is a serious person by nature, but like most things in life, looks can be deceiving as he cares more than he allows himself to show. Naoko, plagued and bedeviled by mental illness, serves as the entrance into Watanabe’s life as she is the only woman Watanabe takes an initial liking to. Midori, the latter of the two main love affairs is too plagued mentally by the deaths of loved ones, yet seems to be more compos mentis than Naoko. Both Naoko and Midori take a liking to Watanabe for different reasons, with one being more of comfort and the other being more for actual physical attraction. 1960’s Tokyo serves as the background for Norwegian Wood as Watanabe navigates love, life, and death; however, familiarity breeds contempt and the things worth cherishing in life are always fleeting.

Toru Watanabe, the...

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