17th, March, 2013
Word Count: 1,389
The Concept of Pride, Death and Fear in the stories: Cultural Motifs in Murakami’s The Elephant Vanishes
Haruki Murakami’s collection of short stories in The Elephant Vanishes consists of recurring themes of pride, death, and fear. Although Murakami is shown more of a very modern Japanese writer, he still includes many references of Japanese culture and traditional values that haven’t been lost in Japan and indicates that the horror theme that has been a Japanese storytelling chosen theme since feudal Japan and still plays a role in many stories now, which will all be further discussed on in this paper; about the significance of the repeated name “Noboru Watanabe”, mentioning of suicide and fear of losing face or ‘pride’ in The Silence, similarities of stories in Japanese folklore compared to this one and murder because of the fear of getting hurt in The Green Little Monster, the fear of seeing dead things at night known as “Kanashibari phenomenon” in Sleep, and finally, how all these short stories inevitably bring about the concept of pride, death and fear in cultural aspects of this story. In most of Murakami’s stories, there is a recurring name for supporting characters of the short stories, ‘Noboru Watanabe’. This is appears in the first story, The Wind-Up Bird and Tuesday’s Women, as the name of a missing cat, then again in Family Affair as the scorned computer engineer fiancé-to-be of the man’s younger sister who reminds the man of a hated former schoolmate who “had a memory like an elephant” (Murakami, 166) and also, in the story The Elephant Vanishes where the Elephant caretaker is named ‘Noboru Watanabe’. What ‘Noboru Watanabe’ means in Japanese is Noboru is ‘Rise’ and Watanabe is ‘cross over border’; and if we were to analyze the name ‘Noboru Watanabe’ using its Japanese meaning and not just the general symbolism for it then it could mean that...