Throughout this entire novel, Kobo Abe crafts themes such as identity, voyeurism, anonymity, and one’s existential place within the world. Each of these is equally represented with numerous examples throughout the course of the book. However, I will be taking a stylistic approach concerning Kobo Abe’s writing of The Box Man. My intentions are to tackle his methods of confusion and address his motives for using these particular methods.
From the beginning, Kobo Abe begins his writing with the bizarre introduction of how to create a box, one of the many steps to becoming a box man. But even before this, the very first sentence leaves the reader in utter confusion. With first and third person narration present, the audience reads on page 1, “This is a recording of a box man. I am beginning this account in a box. A cardboard box that reaches just to my hips when I put it on over my head. That is to say at this juncture the box man is me. A box man, in his box, is recording the chronicle of a box man.”
After the basic concept of the physicality of becoming a box man is explained, Abe gives an instance of where the world is confronted by a true box man, he calls it Case A. When flipping through the pages, I realized that Kobo Abe constructs example cases A, C, and D; yet refrains from incorporating case B. This is an example of how Kobo Abe refuses to stick to the technicalities of society’s norms. I read the entire book without even noticing the lack of case B. It was not until I considered writing on all cases that I was aware that case B was not present. To elaborate further, children are taught at a very young age the beginning letters of the alphabet, and here, Abe refuses in a subtle way, to conform to the norm.
The way in which this book is organized is also very different. Typically books are divided by chapters; however, The Box Man is portrayed in a style that an investigator might use. Throughout the recordings there are various...