"We forged straight ahead, as if our walking were a religious ritual meant to heal our wounded spirits." (27) (simile)
The one thing that Toru and Naoko never talk about during their walking-dates is the past: Kizuki's suicide back in Kobe from which they fled to Tokyo, which provides them with an endless metropolitan expanse in which to continually run away. The two feel implicitly that by walking together, often with Naoko leaning on Toru's shoulder, they can forge a bond to sustain each other. In the end, though, they are not able to walk forever, and their walking does not take them anywhere.
"Fresh, simple, smells like life. Really good cucumbers" (191) (simile)
When Toru visits Midori's father in the hospital where he lies dying of brain cancer, she tells him of her toils taking care of him and is slightly exasperated to find that her sister has packed a cucumber for her to feed him. Doubtful that he would want to eat it, she asks him, and indeed he refuses. However, when Toru takes over and begins to eat the cucumber, Midori's father too takes interest in it and asks to eats some. In this case, just as Toru is able to make people feel comfortable and bring out their best selves in conversation, he is able to restore Midori's father's appetite, thus giving him a burst of new life just before his death.
"You look like you've seen a ghost" (168) (simile)
Right after Toru's first trip to Ami Hostel to visit Naoko, he becomes disillusioned with the bustling everyday world of Tokyo. In fact, just as Midori comments, Toru has been to a strange land of the dead where Naoko lives in a limbo, still tied to the dead Kizuki but also to Toru; this is especially evident from the episode when Naoko shows her "perfect" naked body to Toru as though in a dream at night. The implication is that Midori is decidedly not a ghost; indeed, she cures Toru of his malaise by going drinking with him.
"We're all each others' mirrors" (97) (metaphor)
Reiko explains that the unique aspect of Ami Hostel is that patients and doctors alike expose their own vulnerabilities and become attentive to others' vulnerabilities. More than a simple isolated solitude, this environment of totally honest and nonjudgmental communication is meant to allow people to understand themselves better and thus adapt to their own deformities.
"Midori removed her sunglasses and narrowed her eyes. She might just as well have been looking at a crumbling, abandoned house some hundred yards in the distance" (254) (simile)
Toru experiences something very similar with Naoko when he looks into her eyes the night she exposes her naked body to him: even though the two are close, their estrangement makes itself apparent in the distance of their eye contact. However, in this case with Midori there is the significant difference that Midori has taken off her sunglasses, which, recalling the first time Toru encountered her, is a sign of her feeling vulnerable; the Naoko of the "perfect flesh," on the other hand, was one who was unnaturally free of all deformities.
Norwegian Wood Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Norwegian Wood is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.