I often think we all have a task in life: to decide what to keep and what to unload...
That's what the main characters of Kafka on the Shore do: to stop or make the mechanism buried inside themselves work. One way or another, they / we all have an omen inside. And the most important thing in life seems to be comfortable with who we are.
Kafka Tamura and Nakata come across chance encounters and these are what keeps us going, after all. We are all coming from somewhere, heading somewhere else,and during this trip we have to find out which path to follow and once we've decided, let us just go all the way through it, no matter how.
Kafka Tamura is totally alone like a solitary explorer who's lost his compass and his map. But aren't we all alone, after all?
Nakata, the old character, the strange and weird one, the not-so-dumb-after-all, is able to talk to cats.There are all sorts of cats, just as there are all sorts of people, he tells us. His problem? His quest? He's in search of the other hald of his shadow. It seems he's half of what he should be. Anyway, he turns up to the be most complete of all, the only one who felt safe inside the container that was him. After killing Johnie Walker, he stopped being able to talk to cats just because there's a time, in our lives, when we have to make options and decide.
Hoshino, the trunk driver who turns out to be Nakata's fellow, is by far one of the deepest. He acceps Nakata's weirdness as natural, telling us: I happen to like the strange ones. People who look normal and live a normal life - they're the ones you have to watch out for. No studies, no culture, no good talk... however the one who knows the world changes every minute, things change every day: With each new dawn it's not the same world as the day before. And you'e not the same person you were, either.
Oshima, the librarian boy, for example, is the paragon of virtue and the one who has experienced all sorts of discrimination for being a woman in a man's body. He asks himself: What the hell am I, anyway? Really, what am I? As a matter of fact, we feel the urge to tell him just what Kafka told him: I don't care what you are. Whatever you are, I like you. We identify ourselves with Oshima because, just like him what disgusts us even more are people who have no imagination.
Kafka Tamursa is searching for his other half and follows the most difficult path: the unknown. He accepts the extraordinary as common stuff, as if to tell us that there's no such things as absolutes.
All the characters are lonely, showing that solitude comes in different varieties. Silence is something they / we all can hear. And sometimes our dreams are what keep us going. It's all in our imagination: in dreams begin responsibility. They are all in a quest for internal peace but whatever it is you're seeking won't come in the form you're expecting. That's truth for Kafka Tamura. That's true for Oshima. That's true for Sakura. That's true for Miss Saeki. That's true for Nakata and that's also true for Hoshino.
All in all, in everybody's life there's a point of no return. And in a few cases, a point where you can't go forward any more. It happens when Kafka entered the woods. He had to keep on going. And he also had to return because there was no other road to follow.
A book about people's lives and quests and miseries and karmas. Sometimes, we are just like Kafka Tamura, not knowing what to do anymore, which direction to face. We all swing like a pendulum, we are all fluid and in transition and we are all building fences for protection. We learn that sometimes we must close the entrance stone to keep on moving. But no character in this book is a bad one. They all show any kind of virtue: It seems people are drawn deeper into tragedy not by their defects but by their virtues. A book about life and death, showing us that even alive, we can all become ghosts. One way or another, when these times come, the best to do is just listening to the wind. Other times, the best thing to do is never ever looking back.
We are all just like Kafka Tamura, taking journeys inside ourselves lonely voyagers standing on the deck. It's hard to tell the difference between the grey sea and the horizon. It's hard to tell the difference between sea and sky. Between voyager and sea. Between reality and the workings of the heart. (p. 28)
As Goethe said: Everything is a metaphor.
Much obliged, Mr. Haruki Marukami.