Well... These last two chapters of Norwegian Wood brought both fully expected (Naoko's suicide) and utterly WTF (Reiko and Toru sexing!) moments that we will deal with properly and sensibly and nobody will say 'what the HELL was that with the sexy sex?!' Because I know what it was, and I'll explain it to you in a bit! And then, oh, Midori! Murakami got all romantic and stuff, and it was lovely.
Was anyone, in any way, surprised by Naoko's suicide? I think it was built up to well enough, not only in chapter 10 (she's gone to an actual mental hospital... she's not doing too well...) but, really, throughout the entire book. I think that we all knew it was going to happen, but Toru had somehow convinced himself that it wasn't, and so when it did, it was a huge shock for him. Such a huge shock that he had to go and be a bum because he couldn't face the realities of everyday life anymore (not that he was doing so great with them before). I just have to question whether or not he really loved her though- did he love her as a person, or did he just feel the need to protect her, and to try and save her from the fate that took Kizuki away from them? Did he just love her because he didn't know if he could deal with another loss of that magnitude, or did he really just love her? (You don't have to answer these... but if you have any answers, then great!)
Naoko's death left Toru in such a messed up position though, mainly because of the nature of his relationship with Midori. Because, let's face it, they love each other, and somehow complement each other, and I can't even tell you how happy I was when they declared their love for each other, because I really think that Midori was what Toru needed to lead him back to life, or at least to living in a way that was somewhat bearable. But, of course, this is all complicated by Naoko, because even though he doesn't really love her (or at least I think so), he is somehow entangled in her life, and doesn't quite know how to free himself from that kind of obligation to her. Her death should really solve this, only it doesn't and he actually goes the other way- feeling guilty that he loves Midori, and thinking that was a factor in her death (God, that boy's self-centred...). So, they're in a bit of a pickle. But can I just...
"There is a decisive finality to what exists between Midori and me. It has an irresistible power that is bound to sweep me into the future... What I feel for Midori is a wholly different emotion. It stands and walks on its own, living and breathing and throbbing and shaking me to the roots of my being."Siiiiigh! I think "I am Heathcliff" from Wuthering Heights just got some competition for a description of love. And I can already predict that some of you are going to be like 'oh, Toru's not good enough for her', and he kind of isn't; except that the way he acts towards her pretty much fits her definition of love, and, well, she's getting everything she wants, and he's getting the most amazing character in the book. Fair enough deal, I'd say!
Anyway, in order to get Midori, Toru has to do something about all his feelings about and for Naoko. And, and here's where we get to perhaps the single weirdest moment in the book, the way he does this is through having a good time with Reiko. I'm not going to lie- when I first read this bit, I was literally like 'WHAT?!?!' and, actually, I was kind of annoyed. I mean, did all the women have to want to have sex with Toru? Are there no other men in Japan?! But, I thought about it a little (using all my English degree skills) and I kind of thought that their sexing was a kind of an end to his relationship with Naoko, and the beginning of a hopeful future with Midori. Because Reiko was so close to Naoko, together they were able to put her to rest, and effectively made a bridge between Naoko and Midori. What I mean is, if Midori had been the first person Toru had sex with after Naoko's death, then his entire relationship with her would have been marred by the shadow of Naoko. Because he instead had sex with Reiko, which was all about Naoko, he was able to put her to rest and can hopefully start afresh with Midori. OR, it was just weird. I have to tell myself that the former is true, just so I can consolidate that event into my whole experience of the book.
So... there's probably loads I've missed out, but I can't remember many more things because I read the last two chapters in a rush in a super long bath (that really wasn't meant to be that long) because I wanted to find out what happened! I enjoyed Midori's screening of and anger with Toru, and I was concerned at Toru's catatonic state because of bloody Naoko (RIP). One of the most interesting things for me was how Toru gained a greater insight into his actions, and how he actually stepped outside of his head for a minute to think about how his actions might affect others:
"Whenever I get involved in something, I shut out everything else. But then I began to think about how I would feel and the tables had been turned and Midori had moved somewhere without telling me where or getting in touch with me for three weeks. I would have been hurt- hurt badly, no doubt... What a terrible thing it is to wound someone you really care for- and to do it so unconsciously."And I slow-clapped him for not being a psychopath (psychological rather than murdery). And, of course, Reiko brought all her wisdom with her:
"'I mean, that was such a sad little funeral! No one should have to die like that.'Death is death is death, and they're still alive; and even if sometimes that's all they've got to hold onto, it's still a lot.
Reiko stretched out her hand and stroked my head. 'We all have to die like that sometime. I will, and so will you.'"
So, you could say I liked Norwegian Wood an awful lot. No, it wasn't a happy book, and it never made me laugh (don't be silly!) but it had an awful lot of soul, some really fabulous writing (you don't even want to know how much I've copied out of it) and some truly memorable characters. I think it ends with a great deal of hope, hope that Toru can start to really live, hope that he'll be such a good husband for Midori, hope that Reiko can live the rest of her life with as much sanity as anyone can in this crazy crazy world. Those who haven't been able to deal with life have departed it, and those who are left have to figure out how to carry on the best they can. It's an incredibly human book, and deals with the darkest side of humanity, something that we don't necessarily want to think about, but which, whether or not we do, still happens. I am a little bit in love with Murakami now, and want to read all of his books ever! And maybe I just will.