NOVELOHOLIC

NORWEGIAN WOOD                                 

BY HARUKI MURAKAMI

[ORIGINAL SUMMARY]

Norwegian Wood is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man who is damaged by the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Toru falls in love with Kizuki’s tortured girlfriend, Naoko, who is isolated in her own mind. When she goes into a mental hospital, he promises to wait for her. Meanwhile, though, he falls in love with Midori, an open and uninhibited girl who represents life. Toru is filled with guilt when Naoko kills herself, but ultimately he calls out to Midori.

The novel begins when Toru is thirty-seven, remembering the events that happened to him twenty years ago. In high school, Toru, his best friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable. They are all bound together by Kizuki. However, Kizuki’s suicide throws Naoko and Toru into depression. Both choose to attend colleges in Tokyo, where they can get away from their pasts.

Toru runs into Naoko one day while he is in college, and the two start to see each other every Sunday. They go on long walks through Tokyo. Though Naoko has trouble talking and expressing herself , they spend every Sunday together. On Naoko’s birthday, Toru brings her a cake, and they spend the evening drinking wine and listening to music. Naoko talks continuously, but she seems to be avoiding certain subjects. Then she breaks down in tears. Toru makes love to her, but the next day she disappears. Toru writes to her and longs for her but hears nothing for a long while.

 When Naoko finally writes to Toru, he learns she’s had a mental breakdown and is in a sanatorium. While he waits for her, Toru goes to classes and works, remaining isolated until he meets Midori, a girl who appears and then disappears for days or weeks. He goes to visit her at her family’s bookstore, and they share a kiss although each is attached to another.

Toru goes to visit Naoko at the sanatorium, and he shares a day with her walking in a meadow. It’s the closest he ever is to Naoko, and she tells him about her sister, who also killed herself when Naoko was young. Naoko asks Toru to always remember her, and Toru asks her to live with him when she gets out of the sanatorium.

After the visit, though, Toru falls in love with Midori. Midori has been through the deaths of both of her parents from brain cancer, and she is exhausted with caring for others. She wants someone who will care for her. Toru does not know what to do when he realizes he is in love with Midori. He asks Midori to wait while he sorts things out with Naoko. However, Naoko takes a turn for the worse. She kills herself, and Toru is flung into a pit of grief, despair, and guilt. Toru travels around Japan, alone with his sorrow. When he finally begins to emerge, he calls Midori from a clouded pit of depression.

A TWIST IN THE TALE

[CHANGED ENDING]

Norwegian Wood is the story of Toru Watanabe, a young man who is damaged by the suicide of his high school friend, Kizuki. Toru falls in love with Kizuki’s tortured girlfriend, Naoko, who is isolated in her own mind. When she goes into a mental hospital, he promises to wait for her. Meanwhile, though, he falls in love with Midori, an open and uninhibited girl who represents life. Toru is filled with guilt when Naoko kills herself, but ultimately he calls out to Midori.

The novel begins when Toru is thirty-seven, remembering the events that happened to him twenty years ago. In high school, Toru, his best friend Kizuki, and Kizuki’s girlfriend Naoko are inseparable. They are all bound together by Kizuki. However, Kizuki’s suicide throws Naoko and Toru into depression. Both choose to attend colleges in Tokyo, where they can get away from their pasts.

Toru runs into Naoko one day while he is in college, and the two start to see each other every Sunday. They go on long walks through Tokyo. Though Naoko has trouble talking and expressing herself, they spend every Sunday together. On Naoko’s birthday, Toru brings her a cake, and they spend the evening drinking wine and listening to music. Naoko talks continuously, but she seems to be avoiding certain subjects. Then she breaks down in tears. Toru makes love to her, but the next day she disappears. Toru writes to her and longs for her but hears nothing for a long while.

When Naoko finally writes to Toru, he learns she’s had a mental breakdown and is in a sanatorium. While he waits for her, Toru goes to classes and works, remaining isolated until he meets Midori, a girl who appears and then disappears for days or weeks. He goes to visit her at her family’s bookstore, and they share a kiss, although each is attached to another.

Toru goes to visit Naoko at the sanatorium, and he shares a day with her walking in a meadow. It’s the closest he ever is to Naoko, and she tells him about her sister, who also killed herself when Naoko was young. Naoko asks Toru always to remember her, and Toru asks her to live with him when she gets out of the sanatorium.

After the visit, though, Toru falls in love with Midori. Midori has been through the deaths of both of her parents from brain cancer, and she is exhausted with caring for others. She wants someone who will care for her. Toru does not know what to do when he realizes he is in love with Midori. He asks Midori to wait while he sorts things out with Naoko.

Midori being who she is, was fed up with being treated like an option and liability by everyone, decides to leave Toru and move to Kyoto to start a new life, away from her parents’ book store, her house, Toru, everyone. Meanwhile, after a fortnight since Toru’s visit to the sanatorium, Naoko finally decides to leave the place, once and for all, with the acceptance of the past events which have shaped her into who she is now, including all the trauma. Five days before leaving, she wrote a letter to Toru talking about her departure and how she wanted to meet him.

“I’m so glad you are back. How are you feeling?” asked Toru as he hoped to find his answer of whether he should rekindle things with her.

“I’m much better. Time had its healing effect at last. I also have Reiko to thank for it. But there is something I’d like to tell you Toru.”

“Go on.”

“Over the past few months, I’ve been through a lot. I’ve asked myself questions I shouldn’t have, thought more deeper than ever, and finally have a bit of an idea of how to move forward, and for that, I need to forget all this. You, Kizuki, my sister, the sanitarium and everything that I’ve been through to move on. “

“You mean having a clean slate?” asked an astonished Toru.

“Yeah, something like that,” said Naoko

“So, is this our last meeting?”

“For a few years, perhaps”

Both sat quietly for a while. Those 3 minutes of uncomfortable silence felt like three years. Finally, to divert the topic, Toru started talking about his college and his future plans. They wished each other luck and promised to meet in a few years.

Darkness ensued Toru’s mind as he was walking back home from the train station. His Naoko, Kizuki’s Naoko was leaving. Perhaps his wait for her wasn’t worth it. Or maybe it was. Who knows. Just before opening the door to his house, he saw a letter in the mailbox. It read FROM: MIDORI KOBAYASHI. He was caught off guard. He went to his kitchen to get a knife and plate to eat the melon which he had bought on the way back and then opened the letter and read what Midori wrote of: her leaving.

He was shattered. First Kizuki then Naoko and now Midori too. Each of his confidants had left him. Maybe the problem was with him. Just as he seems to recover from one person’s departure, another follows. He couldn’t bear that anymore. The thought of suicide also passed by his mind but for what good? He didn’t want anyone to suffer because of his death the way he did because of others’.He decided to challenge his destiny by not giving up. That narrow beam of hope hidden beneath his shattered peace struck hard, and he lived, hoping that things would get better. EVENTUALLY.

Alternate ending by – Radhika Ahuja