Norwegian Wood

Norwegian Wood Summary and Analysis of Chapter 9


Toru goes drinking with Midori and then, as promised, goes to see a porno flick with her. Afterwards she asks him to come back home with her so that she doesn't have to sleep alone. Reluctant at first, Toru gives in. After putting Midori to sleep, Toru reads a novel; come next morning, he returns to his dorm. He continues writing to Naoko, who replies telling him about the times that she becomes lonely and depressed; for his twentieth birthday she sends him a sweater that she and Reiko sewed for him.


This chapter begins with Midori once again bringing Toru back to life by calling him at his dorm; this snaps him out of what is described as a "sleep of death" (219). In a parallel to the final scene, in which Toru calls Midori from a place that is no place, Midori calls Toru, and then he wakes to find himself completely disoriented; he doesn't know whether it is 6:15am or 6:15pm. Then, just as she had reoriented him when he came back from Ami Hostel, she tells him that it is night, and this helps ground him from what were supposedly dreams of Naoko—he had just written a letter to Naoko at the end of the previous chapter.

Another one of the quirky things that Midori says is that she would wear a red hat when she has her period in order to warn people of her irascibility at that time; this follows her story of how an unexpected onset of her period frustrated her boyfriend, because they wanted to have sex on vacation. Toru joking tells her that he wishes all girls could do that, and this actually has quite some significance, pointing out as it does the importance and difficulty of communicating one's own emotional state so that other people and won't hurt one or be hurt in turn. Midori's outspoken complaints to Toru about his failing to realize that she loves him belong to this same characteristic of hers, which stands in stark contrast to Naoko's inability to properly express, or understand, herself.

The episode of Toru's and Midori's visit to watch a porno flick, aside from providing yet another example of Midori's unusual personality, sets up the situation for a very insightful observation that she makes in response when Toru expresses his disappointment in the repetitiveness of the films: "What else can they do? We all just keep doing the same things" (225). This is in a subtle way a defense of the novel itself, in which so many things recur; although it might not seem to be art in a strictly formalistic sense, it is a true representation of lived experience.

The main action of the chapter is Midori's asking Toru to sleep with her at her now empty home:

"You're the only one I can say these things to. And now I'm really really really tired and I want to fall asleep listening to someone tell me how much they like me and how pretty I am and stuff. That's all I want. And when I wake up, I'll be full of energy and I'll never bother you with these kinds of selfish demands again. I swear. I'll be a good girl" (227).

She ends up being more or less correct, because this is the singular moment in the novel when Midori truly exposes her vulnerability and asks for Toru to take care of her. Significantly, it is not until she threatens to sleep with any random man she meets that Toru accedes; he has been reminded of his painful habit of sleeping with random girls to satisfy his hunger for intimacy and doesn't want Midori to fall into the same self-destructive culture. Despite her great exuberance, Midori too is human and has certain needs that only others can fulfill.

Just before Midori falls asleep with Toru lying by her, she asks some promises of him, following Toru's agreeing to Midori's father to take care of her and in lines very similar to Naoko's requests to Toru: "'If you like me that much, you'll do anything I tell you to do, right? You won't get mad, right?' 'No, of course I won't get mad.' 'And you'll take care of me always and always.' 'Of course I will,' I said, stroking her short, soft, boyish hair. 'Don't worry, everything is going to be fine.' 'But I'm scared,' she said" (231-2). It seems almost hypocritical of Toru to be promising his care to two girls at the same time, but somehow this is what is most natural; Midori, for one, is willing to wait for him.

When Toru returns to his dorm the next morning, he falls into a sleep like the one he awoke from in the beginning of the chapter: "Finally, a dreamless sleep closed over me like a heavy lead door" (233). Also just as before, what immediately follows is a letter from Naoko in which she tells him of her desire to express herself to him but also the pain she feels in doing this; for her spoken or written intercourse is just like sexual intercourse, something which she can only do in extraordinary situations, perhaps only once in her lifetime.