Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood Literary Elements



Setting and Context

Japan (mostly Tokyo), 1968-1970

Narrator and Point of View

Toru Watanabe, 1st-person, narrating from around 18 years after the events of the novel.

Tone and Mood

Nostalgic, innocent, sensitive, and simple.

Protagonist and Antagonist

Protagonists: Toru, Naoko, Midori; Antagonists: N/A.

Major Conflict

Toru tries to search for a meaning in life. Naoko tries to overcome her worsening mental health. Midori tries to find someone who will love her. All three try to overcome loneliness, move past painful memories, and grow up.


Naoko commits suicide.


Naoko jokingly tells Reiko that she would share Toru with her sometime. Later, Reiko does sleep with Toru.


Most of the things that Toru says are understatements; when people, such as Midori, compliment him on his emotional acuity, he simply says that he is an ordinary guy.


Toru reads many books and mentions them by title, such as F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" and Thomas Mann's "The Magic Mountain."


The workings of weather (rain versus shine) and the environment (urban Tokyo versus rural Ami Hostel) are always invoked to set each scene.


Toru falls deeply and genuinely in love with Midori while still being attached to Naoko.


Toru acts as a mediator between Nagasawa and Hatsumi, just as he did between Kizuki and Naoko.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

The memory of Naoko, especially of her body, is preserved in her t-shirt that she bequeaths to Reiko.


The firefly that Toru releases into the night air from the rooftop of his dormitory is described as going through a kind of emotional development, which concludes with it recouping its memories and proceeding into a future.