Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood Summary and Analysis of Chapter 7


When Toru returns from Ami Hostel to his dorm, he turns off the lights, closes the curtains, and basks in the darkness. "In the darkness, I returned to that small world of hers [Naoko's]" (166). He masturbates, in a sense to relieve himself of her memory, but this does not work; and all the otherworldly sensations of her prevent him from getting sleep. The next day he comes slightly closer to reintegrating with the real world by exercising and eating lunch, both activities which restore him to his body. However, it isn't until an encounter with Midori that he regains his living color.

The day after returning from Ami Hostel, Toru runs into Midori, who asks him to go drinking with her, an experience which reorients him back to the real world after his dizzying feeling of alienation. That Sunday Toru spends time with Midori again, and in their usual banter she speaks about how she admires him. Unexpectedly, she takes him to the hospital where her father is staying with terminal brain cancer and tells him about the grueling work of taking care of the sick man. Toru suggests that she take a break to loosen her mind and offers to watch over her father. Strangely, he takes a liking to the man, whom he pities, while he talks to him and feeds him cucumber. The next Friday Midori's father dies, and Toru does not see her for a week. He writes a letter to Naoko telling her about how he misses her and how he "doesn’t wind his spring" on Sundays.


When she sees him, Midori immediately notices that something is off with Toru, just how as later on when Toru drops into and then climbs out of depression brought on by news of Naoko's worsening condition she is able to detect the difference in his face. He, however, seems to not be the most apt at reading Midori, such as when he doesn't recognize her at their first meeting and later on when he fails mention that she has changed almost just as he has. In any case, when she notices this condition she tells him, "C'mon, go drinking with me and get a little life into you. That's what I want to do—drink with you and get some life into myself. Whaddya say?" (168) In this same spirit full of vitality, Midori, after some vodka and tonics, half-jokingly tells Toru, "I'd make a pile of babies for you tough as little bulls" (169). Indeed, one gets the impression that if Toru were to have sex with Midori that it would be something utterly unlike having sex with Naoko; later on when Midori gives Toru a handjob, he is struck by how different she does it compared to how Naoko does it. Whereas Naoko can only have sex once and in a very unnatural way, Midori would be able of supporting vast amounts of life with her sheer exuberance.

Nevertheless, as a truly living person, Midori has her share of unhappiness and suffering, as she reveals to Toru most clearly in the figure of her dying father. Although Midori does not express many anxieties at the hospital, it is clear that the hereditary nature of brain cancer, with its horridly painful way of dying, frightens her terribly, such that she sees her father's suffering as her own. Therefore, when Toru is able to feed the man cucumbers, she feels as though some life has been restored to her too.

Although Midori's way of speaking may seem outlandish to the point of ridiculousness, there is actually quite a lot of significance in even the most aberrant things she says. For example, the story about her father running off to Uruguay is in fact a fitting description for the way that he is abandoning Midori and her sister by dying, and it also provides her with the image of "donkey shit everywhere," which illustrates her view of her own current life. "It's easy to talk big, but the important thing is whether or not you clean up the shit," she tells Toru after they leave the room where her father is lying in the hospital (186). In the case of her sick father, there is actual shit and various bodily secretions that must be cleaned up by her, but the statement is easily generalizable to all the troubles that she feels she has been forced to take upon her by others, who do not even recognize her burdens.

In this case, Toru takes up that role of giving Midori recognition and love, suggesting to her that she take a break and he take over for her. When left alone with her father, he at first notices that he has entered a triangular relationship reminiscent of that which he has with Midori and Kizuki, and later on Nagasawa and Hatsumi: "How strange it would be, I thought, if this man were to breathe his last with me by his side. After all, I had just met him for the first time in my life, and the only thing binding us together was Midori, a girl I happened to know from my History of Drama class" (187). Despite Toru's misgivings, we see that he naturally relaxes and opens up people such that he becomes a familiar friend almost immediately; Midori's father senses this and so entrusts Toru with Midori's care, almost in the sense of a father passing on his duty.

"It's good when food tastes good," Toru mentions, "It's kind of like proof you're alive" (191). Indeed, throughout the whole novel any given character's appetite stands as one of the best indicators of their true emotional state; in this chapter, when Toru enters the hospital, the overwhelming feeling of sickliness makes him lose his appetite, and Midori's father likewise does not seem interested in eating anything. However, when Toru spends time with the man and opens up to him, both rediscover their appetites, a development that Midori, she of the ever-present appetite, is quick to appreciate. One might also think back to Toru's (and Naoko's) great appetite for the homegrown vegetables at Ami Hostel in contrast to Reiko's thin diet consisting mostly of smoking.