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The ending

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Edwin What does the ending mean?

**Spoiler**

I spread my fingers apart and stare at the palms of both hands, looking for bloodstains. There aren't any. No scent of blood, no stiffness. The blood must have already, in its own silent way, seeped inside.

I think K has killed Sumire after he raped her at the end of chapter 5.


Jorge Ivan OMG What did you saw! Seems plausible, yet I sadly saw him killing himself.


Edwin Jorge Ivan wrote: "OMG What did you saw! Seems plausible, yet I sadly saw him killing himself."
I wanted to hold her so badly. I was seized by a violent desire to push her down on the floor right then and there. But I knew it would be wasted effort. Suddenly I found it hard to breathe, and my field of vision narrowed. Time had lost an exit and spun it's wheels. Desire swelled up in my trouser, hard as a rock. I was confused, bewildered. I tried to get a grip. I breathed in a lungful of fresh air, closed my eyes, and in that incomprehensible darkness I slowly began counting. My urges were so overpowering that tears came to my eyes.

Keep in mind that K. is an unreliable narrator and might be hiding things from us or downright lie.


message 4: by Ralu (last edited Nov 06, 2012 07:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ralu Cercel I wouldn't take things so literally. One of the main aspects of the book is his unfulfilled sexual desire for Sumire, and I'm pretty sure that it remains unsatisfied till the very end. I ,too, thought that he killed himself in an attempt to reach Sumire. And perhaps the blood,as a symbol for his conscience and worldly life, disapeared just as he drifted towards Sumire.

(Or maybe I just refuse to think of the character as a raper. )


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

Raluca wrote: "I wouldn't take things so literally. One of the main aspects of the book is his unfulfilled sexual desire for Sumire, and I'm pretty sure that it remains unsatisfied till the very end. I ,too, thought that he killed himself in an attempt to reach Sumire. And perhaps the blood,as a symbol for his conscience and worldly life, disapeared just as he drifted towards Sumire."

yeah i agree with you. Just because in the way Murakami writes. He always write very openly, leaving you thinking what you want to think. Based in previous books and the personality of K he's more likely to have killed himself, or at least not touched Sumire in any way more than his friend and confident.


Eric "Sputnik Sweetheart" deals with the inability of Japanese women, today, to love intimately, because of their identification with the WWII Korean sex slaves, juxtaposed with the ongoing denial of the atrocity by the male-centric mainstream of Japanese culture.


Kyra I thought the blood was more of a link back to Sumire's comment about "slitting a dog's throat somewhere". She brings it up in the last phone call at the end as well, so it seems to fit. Actually, there's also the whole "Did you ever see anyone shot by a gun without bleeding?" thing. But whatever Murukami is trying to say, I have no idea.


Natalia I never got that he raped her.


message 9: by Gabriel (last edited May 17, 2013 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Gabriel Aumala After reading the book for second time, I think K went to the "other side". I don't know how, but I think he did. He also mentions that the moon shows him that he is on the same world as Sumire.

The moon is very important. Characters interact with the other side whenever the moon appears. It seems like the moon takes to the other side your image, the way you describe yourself. Myu described herself as a succesful pianist and somebody who enjoyed sex. That night she had the accident in Europe, she lost the ability to play the piano and her sexual desire. The myu that enjoys sex and playing the piano is probably in the other side. Sumire, in her texts, says that she can't differentiate what she knows from what she doesn't. She probably can't differentiate her real self from the image, that's why the moon took her entirely when she was in Greece. The reason why nobody can find her, is because she now resides in the other world. K doesn't like describing himself, that's why when he saw the moon in Greece, he didn't lost anything. The moon only took an empty copy of him. That copy is then killed by cats.

When K mentions traces of blood at the end of the story, he's probably looking for the blood of his dead copy. Now that he is sure that he is alive in the other world, he can be with Sumire and enjoy life. In the real world, he might be dead, just dreaming, or vanished.


Sandi My interpertation of the ending is that K needed closure and by imagining Sumire calling him in the middle of the night as she used to, that she is back, it gave him that closure enabling him to break free and be able to start to face the real world. I think that is what the blood represented. He needed to break free from his cycle of loneliness. I think that was the symbolism of the scenes regarding the shoplifting incident with his student and his mother, K's lover. It made him realize how early in one's life that kind of loneliness can manifest and what the future could hold.

I also think Miu killed Sumire, K figured as much, but he knew he couldn't ever prove it.


Grillo My initial interpretation was that K. found some way to slip over into the other world. He had been focused on dreams and dreaming, just as Sumire had just before she disappeared. Then, after some time, it worked, and she contacted him.

I think she was explicitly telling him that he needs to go (figuratively) slit a dog's throat of his own, and come find her by crossing over to her himself, as she had done.

When he looks out, he sees they are under the same moon--similar to the moon in Greece when he almost crossed over as well, and makes a statement that he knows he "has time" to find her now, because he indeed has spilled some blood, so to speak, and has crossed over to the world she is in.

I don't feel this is exactly right, but I feel like I'm getting closer to an interpretation that makes sense.

I don't think he killed himself. I don't believe he killed Sumire. The blood, I think, is meant to be taken as the symbolic blood that is referenced often in the novel.

I also don't believe it was a delusion or a dream. I believe the phone call happened, as Murakami describes K. thinking how surprised he was for it to actually be happening, to be vibrating "real air" and such.

It's at this point that I am less clear. Was it a one-off, that connection? Did Sumire get through that one time and then nothing more?

I don't think so. K.'s tone was hopeful rather than bleak. Which leads me to conclude that their re-connection is real. I'm not certain whether Sumire came back to this world though, or whether K. went to hers.

I think the blood reference is just that K. is inspired and no longer an empty husk like Miu is, like how he felt himself after he lost Sumire the first time.

I kind of worked my confusion out by writing it, like Sumire.

I would love anyone to keep adding to this discussion. I felt compelled to talk about it after finishing...


message 12: by Rett (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rett Perera Earlier in the book, K explains to Sumire that she doesn't actually have to kill an animal to "slit the dog's throat". Throughout the book, though, doesn't her writerly and more metaphoric persona give way to something more straightforward, more definable, with her work and travel, her existence with Miu, and because she stopped writing?

She tries to get physically close to Miu, turning her fantasies into reality, which disappoint her. Can you then go back to dreamland?

Could K checking for blood on his hands at the end be a further representation of dreams and metaphors becoming literal? He's checking to see if he has at last slit the dog's throat himself.


Mihnea Boiangiu I think the ending leaves room for interpretation. You could explain in two ways.

The first one, which I dislike, is that K. died and found Sumire on the other side. She couldn't find the other Miu that could have shared her love and turns back to K.

The other explanation I came with is that Sumire left the island when she found out that Miu won't be able to love her in a sexual way. After the "bleeding" stopped she realized that K. is more important for her in a spiritual way and that she may share his love. Sumire didn't make any contact because she didn't want to meet the real Miu again. As the time passes Miu loses interest in finding her and accept the facts. Now Sumire can get back to K. And this is the real world as he realizes there is no blood on this hands. Besides is the same world as her's. The moon says that very clear.

I am very interested in other opinions. I feel I missed something and maybe someone has an answer. Perhaps if I read the book again, I will get it.


A Miuda Geek Mihnea wrote: "I think the ending leaves room for interpretation. You could explain in two ways.

The first one, which I dislike, is that K. died and found Sumire on the other side. She couldn't find the other Mi..."


Your 2 interpretations are what comes close, in my opinion, of how the ending should be perceived, although Murakami likes to leave us to think what he meant.

He could have crossed over to the other side, which could explain the phone call from Sumire after such a long absence: the phone call could be a delusion of his mind, to try and process the loss of a person who was his everything, after all.

Or the other one, that pleases me much more is that she simply left the island, after Miu rejected her advances, she took time away to herself, thougth better on her life and decided to come to the one person who was always there for her, who loved her - K.

But, in the end, i think that the most plausible one is that K went to the other side - by killing himself - because he really had nothing or no one else that he was attached to.


Costumel I sometimes wonder if K, Mi, and Su were not just a disintegration of the one and only narrator. His loneliness, his lack of a paternal love, his lack of a certain type of shared emotion. He might be the writer, the teacher and the entrepreneur.
In his loneliness he is left to succumb to his own cravings which, just like the moon reflects the light of the sun, his cravings are reflected in the characters.
Maybe his own dog to be slit is actually his uniting as one, but this is impossible because of the apparent dissociation between the three parts. Each crave something that the other has but they crave it from the one that has to offer the other thing.
I hope I made some sense, I really enjoyed this book and I think it's a typical situation in which H. Murakami just makes you wonder. In a way I guess he just induces the same feeling that K had, he wanted closure.


A Miuda Geek Costumel wrote: "Each crave something that the other has but they crave it from the one that has to offer the other thing.

They all wanted thigs from the person that wasn´r willing to give them that: K desired Sumire, but she wasn´t in the least bit interested in him in thar way; Sumire desired Miu, but she, also, wasn´t keen on her.

On the other hand, in the Greek Island and when K went away, that scene on the port, when Miu went to say goodbye to him, that long embrace...i felt that she came to like him and maybe - if they spent a litle more time in each others company - they could have been involved, in a more intimate way....maybe K could have been Miu´s cure for what happened to her in the past, but i felt that there was something more there than just m«shere friendship, that cae to nothingm once they´ve returned to Japan.

Was i the only one that felt this?



Francisco Florimon This is **SPOILERIFIC**, but from the other Murakami novels I've read, it's entirely possible for people or cats to do the moon trick of traveling to the otherside and/or back again without having to die...completely. This could be a kind of happy ending after all, but not in the everyday sense of the idea.


Mayang Murakami's book always leave me speechless and lonely and sad. Hahaha

I re-read the last part, and I'd like to believe that Sumire wasn't dead at all, like some of the post here suggested, that maybe she left the island when she realized Miu can never take her as a lover. I think at the end, K realizes the fact that Sumire is still in the world that he lives. To assure himself, he created the illusion of Sumire phoning him.

The last paragraph about blood in his hand, to me represents he was free from the guilt of what has transpired. He did what he could to find Sumire, and he doesn't see blood in his hand anymore.

That's just me.


Gena Myrtle Grillo wrote: "My initial interpretation was that K. found some way to slip over into the other world. He had been focused on dreams and dreaming, just as Sumire had just before she disappeared. Then, after some ..."

We almost have the same interpretation! I think we're too focused on finding "deep" meanings in the metaphors. But really, for me, the only thing Murakami was trying to say in the ending is that K is ready to open up. I believe too, that the phone did happen.

It's impossible that he crossed the other side or whatever, because I think crossing the other side here means being in the state of confusion in your life that you simply leave all your desires, instead of chasing them. Remember that K never admitted his feelings and never even tried to show them because he was resigned that it will never happen. Remember, too, that Sumire told K "come and get me." I think K did come and get her, thus he has slit the throat of his own dog, or that he has bled already--meaning he is ready to release the feelings he has always kept to himself (in contrast with Miu, who became an empty shell).

Whether or not Sumire reciprocated those feelings this time, is unknown.


Jared Gena Myrtle wrote: "We almost have the same interpretation! I think we're too focused on finding "deep" meanings in the metaphors. But really, for me, the only thing Murakami was trying to say in the ending is that K is ready to open up. I believe too, that the phone did ..."

I like this interpretation. Sputnik Sweetheart is my first Murakami novel, so maybe I am wrong in my interpretation of going to the "other side" as not being about death. Rather, I think it is a place the characters go to when something traumatic occurs, something akin to PTSD.

The retelling of stories in this book is important. Everything is told through K's lens, which already distorts the truth. Miu's telling of the story from the ferris wheel is a distortion. She did not really see her double -- the double is a symbolic story that she convinced herself was the truth because the reality was too harsh. I believe that Miu was raped, and the white hair is also a symbol of the shell she became. At that point, she crossed over to the other side; she became broken.

Perhaps the "other side" is of people who feel broken. Both K and Sumire become "broken" people early on because they do not assimilate well into society. K tells of his extreme loneliness through childhood. Sumire feels different in that she can't get through college, seeing it beneath her. Both K and Sumire get along well because they understand each other's pain. Therefore, I think being on the "other side" means that they can communicate because they implicitly understand the paralyzing pain each other is feeling.

Miu meets K and Sumire after she has already crossed over after the event that happened 14 years ago. This is why they become friends and why Sumire and Miu are drawn together. Miu wants to reciprocate Sumire's affection, but due to the (possible) rape or sexual assault she lived through, she can no longer feel comfortable sharing sexual desires.

After Miu's rejection of Sumire, Sumire feels an intense relief. She is upset by being rejected, but also has "shed the blood" necessary to make her into a whole person. She is able to move on from her paralysis that Miu caused her. Thus, Sumire assimilates back into society after some time thinking and becoming fixed, and leaves from the "other side."

K goes through the same process over a longer period of time as he realizes how much he needs Sumire. K finally begins to show empathy for others -- he realizes the effect his affair with Carrot's mother has had on Carrot's whole family, and breaks off the affair. Like when a ghost finally has his fatal issue resolved, K crosses back over to reality.

Miu remains in the "other side" or "ghost side" as I think of it because she still has not reconciled her extreme pain with being able to move on. She will remain there until (if) she comes to peace with the traumatic events she has lived through. Sumire and K are at peace and are therefore on the same side, able to hopefully make amends as the end of the book suggests.

I think it doesn't matter if the phone call by Sumire at the end is real -- the only important information is that Sumire and K are on the same "side." However, another pet theory I have is that K simply went crazy and fell into the dream world that Sumire suggested in her untitled Documents. K simply imagined Sumire calling him because that is one of Murakami's subtle ideas -- that our lives are defined by our previous events that affect us deeply, and we use symbolism and metaphor to explain them to ourselves. The dog's throat is cut, and the gate is sealed.


message 21: by Erin (new) - rated it 2 stars

Erin It has been a couple of years since I read this novel, and I remember being kind of frustrated with the ending because there felt like too many possible interpretations of the last few pages.
The interpretation that made the most sense to me at the time was this: if there is that "other" sexually adventurous Miu on the other side that Sumire seems to have pursued - because that other Miu might be able to love her,- then so too might there be an "other" Sumire on the other side who is able to love K. Could it be the "other" Sumire who calls K at the end?
That seemed to make some sense to me when I read the book, but I also thought the call MIGHT just be in K's own mind, or that the "real" Sumire had a change of heart for some reason. (I thought this last possibility was pretty likely, too, and it bugged me because it seemed completely out of character for Sumire).
Man, I had forgotten how frustrated I was with the ending! It changed the whole tone of the book for me...


Hastin Jorge Ivan wrote: "OMG What did you saw! Seems plausible, yet I sadly saw him killing himself."

I think he committed a suicide either.


Diana Raabe Hastin wrote: "Jorge Ivan wrote: "OMG What did you saw! Seems plausible, yet I sadly saw him killing himself."

I think he committed a suicide either."


We all know how Murakami likes a "thoughtful" ending, so it's really up to the reader to decide, right? Having said that, there are a lot of suicides in his writing and I thought it was a plausible ending for Sputnik.

It gives us an interesting point of conversation at any rate.


Diana Raabe Gabriel wrote: "After reading the book for second time, I think K went to the "other side". I don't know how, but I think he did. He also mentions that the moon shows him that he is on the same world as Sumire.

T..."


...worth a second read for sure!


Diana Raabe Jared wrote: "Gena Myrtle wrote: "We almost have the same interpretation! I think we're too focused on finding "deep" meanings in the metaphors. But really, for me, the only thing Murakami was trying to say in t..."

Great comment, Jared! What will your next Murakami book be? (Just curious as I've read quite a few of them)


Zahra “Why do people have to be this lonely? What's the point of it all? Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?”
I created a Goodreads account a couple of months ago purely to add my twig to the cackling bonfire of speculation that is this thread. After reading Sputnik Sweetheart, I had a dream in which I was presented the answer - or I suppose the answer that gives me the greatest closure - to the end of the novel: "perhaps it is loneliness that drives us to the other side".
I believe that when Miu was on the ferris wheel, it dawned on her what a lonely life she was leading, and thus, part of her moves to the other side. When Sumire learns that Miu will never reciprocate her love, she is propelled into an unbearable state of loneliness, in which she moves to the other side. And finally, we see K. descend into a state of loneliness after losing Sumire and severing his ties to his lovers, and finally Miu. This descent into loneliness allows him to transcend to the other side.
I think that the degree of the loneliness felt by the characters impacts how "much" of one is propelled into the other side; perhaps Miu was content with the degree of solace she maintained, and only when she was totally lost and alone on the ferris wheel did only a part of her tear away. In the case of Sumire, learning that Miu, the only person whom she had ever been attracted to, would never be attracted to her, devastated her so much that the entirety of her moved to the other side - leaving no trace to be found. With K., I am unsure whether or not a "part" of him or the "whole" of him transcended to the other side. Certainly the part of him that yearned to be with Sumire and for her to love him went to the other side. Judging the intensity of his feelings for Sumire, I reckon that the whole of him was driven to the other side by his loneliness.
So, what do you guys think? Truly, the beauty of the novel's ending is that there are so many plausible interpretations.


Elena Carrasco Costumel wrote: "I sometimes wonder if K, Mi, and Su were not just a disintegration of the one and only narrator. His loneliness, his lack of a paternal love, his lack of a certain type of shared emotion. He might ..."
OMG i love this!!!


Patrick I saw most of the odd parts of the book as simply ways in which the characters dealt with severe emotional trauma, i.e. that Miu's incident in Europe was that she was raped, explaining her rejection of intimacy, and her amusement park story was a coping mechanism. Sumire killed herself after being rejected by Miu, and K's call at the end was a dream/delusion.


message 29: by G.C. (last edited Feb 01, 2015 01:57AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

G.C. "To dream, to live in the world of dreams—just as Sumire said. But it doesn’t last for ever. Wakefulness always comes to take me back. I wake up at 3 a.m.,"

Hence, if K is being reliable, since he woke then he isn't in Sumire's "other side." He then begins conjuring the idea of Sumire being in a phone box, though he knows she isn't. The conversation with her then begins with

"About the difference, say, between symbols and signs. My phone looks as though it will ring any minute now. But it doesn’t ring. I lie down and stare at the silent phone. But one time it does ring. Right in front of me, it actually rings."

The first sentence specifically directs the reader to refer to the novel's earlier discussion about signs versus symbols. The next two sentences implicate that what K is talking about equates to a symbol and not a sign. As he then continues talking with the conjured-up Sumire, it could be implied then that the whole conversation is a symbol of something else, especially the last paragraph. Ie. being a symbol, in no way is the final phone call a literal event that has taken place - it's not a sign, where there would be a two-way relationship.

Since it's a symbol and not a sign, the source of that symbol is entirely open to interpretation... which means Murakami's intention is that there is more than one possible answer. The narrator is entirely unreliable, and may just be telling us what he wants at any point for his own benefit, as a way of dealing with his many hurts.


Kayla Miu was raped and then was placed in the Ferris wheel after (hence the blood), were she then replayed and the night by having an outer body experience watching past events that had just occurred. The shock of it all made her hair white.

Sumire committed suicide that night she vanished. Just like K she herd music that night and followed it into the water but unlike K, Sumire kept on walking. Sumire was leaving him a clue that she departed that world and went to another.

The last night in the book K commits suicide and the phone call from Sumire lets you know he went over to the otherside so they could be together just like they promised those years ago.


Gonçalo Madureira I've seen some interesting perspectives here. I don't think that K and Sumire have committed suicide. I believe that when Sumire disappeared she vanished to another reality, her reality just changed (and there are many details that show that this was inevitable) so she and K where in different realities after her disappearance. Same with Miu: the Miu that we know in the book is the Miu that stayed in the same reality after her experience in Switzerland, the old Miu that played piano was in a different dimension. So for a while in the book we have K and Sumire apart from each other. However in the end, K himself changes (again look at the details) so he passes to Sumire's reality and he separates from white haired Miu forever.


message 32: by Sachin (new) - added it

Sachin I guess 1) Sumire and K both went to an alternate reality, or 2) They are both in this world, but will never meet.

Sputnik is the metaphor. As Sputnik is fated to revolve around the space without a purpose, K and Sumire are also fated to just carry on with their lives, without a purpose.

This story is based on a short story Murakami wrote "Man Eating Cats" - its there in the short story collection - Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman. Not that it provides any clue. But the background story makes me think that either of the scenario has happened. There is a statement in the Man Eating Cats that makes me believe so. It goes like this - You don't get it, do you? we can never go back to Japan.


Kimberley My interpretation of the ending is that Sumire killed herself. She realises Miu can never love her back (because she was raped, she loved Sumire back 'in her heart and mind' but not in her body. Sumire took it as a rejection despite Miu promising it wasn't that). After she took the chance of expressing her love for her and then rejected and distraught, she kills herself. Remember Miu telling Sumire about the cat that died up the tree? That has to be a clue. Miu tells Sumire that she could never love a cat again after what happened to the one that died up the tree. Sumire becomes the same.

I think K also went to the other side (killed himself) to see Sumire again. I don't think Sumire left the island simply because Miu makes a point to check that Sumire's passport and all of her money is left in her bedroom after she realises she is missing.

The main themes are the cats, the other side and Sumire and K being rejected by the people they love the most.


Priscilla Tawie I've just finish reading this book & just like any other Murakami novels I've read, the author leaves his reader with an open imagination of what truly happens.

Although it leaves space for readers to decide what happened next, as frustrating as it sounds, it is at the same time interesting to be able to picture the characters next journey.

My interpretation for this novel would be, the "other side" is probably the side where people aren't lonely. Example, Miu looking at her own self with Ferdinando from the Ferris wheel, probably hopping to rid of the loneliness she then felt & the end unable to escape the loneliness she felt, she lost all meaning to life which then lead to depression. Sumire probably went to the "other side" because of the rejected feeling she gets from Miu. As for K, the last call from Sumire was probably like a call to him to come over to the "other side". Which also meant, escaping from reality or, suicide. K, missing Sumire too much decided to try to reach her out by death.

Just like previous books, Murakami left me with many conclusion to the ending, but this one made sense the most to me.


message 35: by Bhumika (new)

Bhumika Sapkota While K going to the other side or killing himself to reach there seems very reasonable, I have a different theory.
As mentioned by k himself, he led a very different and secluded life from early childhood making him more empty, lonely and longing for a friend when he grew up. And since he was so lonely, he made an imaginary friend "Sumire". He became so close to sumire and had growing sexual desires but when sumire didn't return the feeling, he created another story of sumire being gay and thus imagining "miu". Now this explanation seems plausible since k is narrating the story and in the whole story he has no interaction to people other than sumire, miu and his girlfriend. Also, the security guard finding him different adds up. Moreover, K not meeting Sumire's parents and Miu not calling him makes sense because since Sumire is nowhere to be found he doesn't feed his imagination anymore. He is finally settling in his life normally when his loneliness takes hold of him again and "Sumire" calls him at 3 in the morning.


message 36: by Lavi (new)

Lavi ok, so I just finished this book literally minutes ago. I couldn't figure out the ending, so I googled it lol. and now I'm here and have read pretty much all of the comments.

now that I think about it, I have my own conclusion. Miu was raped and there is this psychological condition that your mind can change the whole story about a traumatic event in your life and you might not realize that it's actually a lie your mind makes up. Miu recalled the story as "seeing her double".

By concluding so, I think Miu killed Sumire. Sumire "touched" her that night and it might have triggered that moment when the Latino guy raped her. She must have been so scared and traumatized that she impulsively killed Sumire.

About the ending... I hate to say that phonecall could be just K's imagination. And I don't think K killed himself. Ah, everything is so frustrating and heartbreaking I can't deal with life


message 37: by Lugubriouspooch (last edited Jan 06, 2017 12:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lugubriouspooch Really enjoyed this book, my favorite from Murakami so far. Also really enjoyed the comments here (read most of them).

Comments as to whether K (no coincidence that the character's initial is the same of Kafka's protagonists in this particular book) went to the other side to be with Sumire are on point but, I think, that question should be left as metaphor and not be read too literally.

Murakami mentions the filmmaker Godard (and has in other stories too) and the significance of Godard is that the filmmaker was showing us another way to watch a film, to be aware that it's a film. I think Murakami is doing the same. He is saying don't read this book too literally, be aware that it is a work of fiction, let the metaphors remain metaphors and don't force them into being "real".

There is duality all throughout the book. The moon itself is presented as a half moon, so has a dark and light side. He even brings up the philosopher Descarte who is known for his theory on duality. K is constantly noticing duality in things, reality and dreams, knowing and not knowing, thinking and not thinking, platonic and sexual love, as well as otherness, not belonging to his family, a lot of these observations are made throughout the book.

K is trying reconcile duality as we all are, to make sense of , this so called love triangle that exists within the same person, about the mystery and ambiguity of love and desire (the ability for one to love others has to do with the I and I relationship in the self). The book leaves me thinking about this, and that's what I love about this book. It left me inspired to wonder and to create, and in such a place, I am lost, not the kind of lost that brings on fear but the kind that reminds you it's the journey, not the destination that matters.

I am sympathetic to the comment(s) questioning whether the three characters are really one. But I wouldn't read that interpretation too literally either (BTW I never believed that Sumire was a good writer, her personality, for me, is a wanna be, someone who loves the idea of the writer and possesses certain qualities she thinks a writer has but in the conversations with K and Sumire, in my opinion, she lacks the imagination and is overly literal minded, so in this way, I see the 3 characters as an aspect of one). I think what Murakami, the teacher, is trying to show us is the power and beauty of metaphor rather than a conventional story with all its devices, character, structure and plot.

When he looks at his hands at the end curious to see whether there is blood or not (blood a symbol of life) I think is not meant to be read that he has committed suicide, but he is playing with metaphor. He doesn't see the blood because he is on the other side, in other words, he is living the metaphor. Having returned to the banality of the "real world" he is unsatisfied with it (even gives up his lover) and so prefers to keep one foot, as it were, in the world of metaphor (maybe now he is 51% in metaphor, the "other side" and in reality at 49% just enough to get by although not too adeptly).

K has told us indirectly that he is an unreliable narrator by mentioning that he is not good with directions and gets lost easily, that cab drivers get upset with him for not knowing where he is going. The cab drivers don't want ambiguity, to them it isn't the journey but the destination that matters. The point of this is for us not to take everything he says literally or to be the case, to question the story teller. We are all in a social narrative that is thrust upon us, to maintain our individuality and some control, we must question and often reject the narrative forced on us.

By leaving the ending ambivalent, Murakami isn't trying to play a trick on us and confound us, he is doing the best thing a writer can do, which is to leave us wanting more, to leave us with a sense of wonder, with questions, and to search our selves for answers, or at least the right questions, explore the feelings the book has left us with. Like a teacher, having given us so much information, he then leaves it to us to interpret what we've just witnessed.

Anyone who appreciates this book and hasn't seen the films of Godard and Antonioni should do so, especially L'Avventura and virtually any film by Godard.

Also, I would recommend Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf as a kind of companion piece to this one.


Nasro Bourbia i just finished this book ! I think murakami in this book is dealing with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and sever depressing so my analysis be like :
1. the character K is a lonely person he lives in lonely environment, he loves his best friend and he is too cowered to confess his love to her, he shows a symptoms of depression .
2. Sumire is already depressed she drops school , she can't write , her sexual identity is confused
3. mui I'm sure she is bipolar or schizophrenic , I mean her story with old man in that small ville in France is confusing , I mean we knew the story from sumire documents through K
So the whole story is from K perspective , K's point of view , K's eyes
About sumire's disappearance I think there is three possibilities
-she killed her self because she is a depressed person who just got rejected by this mui who kept leading her and giving her cloths and showing her love signs
- she got killed by miu
- or some creep kidnapped her
at the end sumire's disappearance stays a mystery because the whole book is from one perspective K's.


message 39: by Ozge (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ozge Lugubriouspooch wrote: "Really enjoyed this book, my favorite from Murakami so far. Also really enjoyed the comments here (read most of them).

Comments as to whether K (no coincidence that the character's initial is the..."


Exactly what I think! Well-said :)


message 40: by Ozge (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ozge It's not necessary to 'force' the story to find something deeper. Sumire clearly said that "I am back and I struggled hard to come back." So she is not on the other side any more. Also since K clearly told us that he was sure Sumire and he were at the same world finally, then it means K also didn't go to the other side. So, there is no suicide. If Sumire's call is not a game of K's mind, then K and Sumire are alive together in this world and it is like old days where they were fine without Myu.

K's not seeing blood in his hands may mean anything. It may simply mean that he doesn't need to spill any animal's or his own blood & doesn't need to shoot anyone to see blood flowing. He doesn't need such things because those actions all belong to the ones who can't find their ways in life. Like K recommends Sumire to spill a dog's blood figuratively; because Sumire can't find her own writing style and her way in life. But K is all content with his own life in the end. He finally ends the immoral and complex relationship with his 'girlfriend' and then Sumire returns (plus there is nothing to confuse Sumire's mind like Myu). No need to spill any blood becuse it is all fine finally.


El Mehdi My interpretation is that there was no phone call or at least he wasn't the receiver he was pretty much the dialler, so somehow after probably cutting himself in that moment before dying of blood loss he is able to hear Summire voice , but soon he realise that it's not true and that he is dying without being able to reach over to her in that world .
after all neither Myu nor Summire tried suicide in order to reach that world , so K probably tried suicide thinking he will meet her but upon death he realised he wont .


Sanjeet This was my first time reading Murakimi and I have to admit, I was left confused by the end of it. when I put down the book, I couldn't make head or tail of it. It was frustrating, because after a long time I had come across a book that held me so intrigued, only to leave me hanging in the end.
After much thinking (and reading other comments), I have come to my own conclusion. Again, I might be totally wrong or even ignorant of any other perspective, but I like to think that everything has a "logic" or reason.
To me, the ending symbolises that K thought he had to sacrifice his feelings in order for Sumire to become a great writer. That is the blood of dog. But it turned out that it was actually Sumire who sacrifices her feelings (or blood of dog) for Miu in order to become who she wants to be.
Basically this other side that all three characters talk about, is coming to terms with their deepest/darkest fears and desires. K left his desire for Sumire on the "other side", while Sumire took her desire to be a great writer on the "other side", leaving behind her physical attraction for Miu. It is sort of hard to explain, but in the end K does receive that phone call, and realises that the sacrifice that he apparently made, never really happened because Sumire decided to meet him in his world. This is of course a happy ending, but let's not hold it against me :P


Harriet Palmann Edwin wrote: "What does the ending mean?

**Spoiler**

I spread my fingers apart and stare at the palms of both hands, looking for bloodstains. There aren't any. No scent of blood, no stiffness. The blood must h..."


None of that happened, he didn't rape her!!


Ingeborg This is interesting! I don't think the "other" world exists, but that it's a description of how how you can feel, and that the moment you realize your dreams are neither true or something you can hide in forever, it will feel like a shock and even like you have lost a part of yourself.

As for the blood, i think it is a way of closing K's story with Sumire. Remember the line "did you ever see anyone shot by a gun without bleeding?" Maybe that is a metaphor for falling in love with someone who does not love you back, and the ending is K looking at his hands and realizing he is read to love forward.


message 45: by Magnus (new)

Magnus Fris Stephansen Ozge wrote: "It's not necessary to 'force' the story to find something deeper. Sumire clearly said that "I am back and I struggled hard to come back." So she is not on the other side any more. Also since K clea..."

Yeah i totally agree. That would be a very possible explanation :))


message 46: by Rita (last edited May 07, 2018 05:22PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rita "Did you ever see anyone shot by a gun without bleeding?"

Can you truly die inside without dying? And still be alive when you are dead?

The book clearly deals with dissociation, the ambiguous nature of reality and subconscious manifestation of hidden desires in dreams.

Both Sumire and Miu are representations of K's inner selves. A bit Freudian, but there is a theme of both the female characters leaving behind something that happened in the past and moving on. In reality, K is conflicted by his guilt of having an affair with the mother of one of his students.

Key parts that allude to this:
The writing style in Sumire's documents matches K's speech towards the end of the book.
Sumire 'vanished' after she realized that Miu cannot love her back in the same way she loved her.
Miu driving away in her Jaguar in the end as K watches her go away forever. (In the end, the girlfriend ends the relationship and drives away)
The boy gives the key to the storage room (another symbolism here) to K and he drops it in a small river. Holding the key evoked certain feelings in K, though not very pleasant. The symbol of the key and dropping it in the river is a sign of letting go. Signs and symbols are already discussed by the characters earlier in the first half of the book. Murakami has hinted quite a few times to the reader with some really clever clues. Look for them and you'll find that the interpretation of the book will morph and change like the fluidity of the water flowing in the river. :)


message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

At one point near the end, K says that he feels like he took the life out of someone. I think he means the life of his married girlfriend. He ended the relationship, and was an empty vessel, so crushed and in pain... I think the first time he went on the other side was in Greece, when he heard the loud music from the top of the hill. Maybe you get there by wanting someone so much, by loving someone more than you love yourself? This was the first time.
I don't know why, but I think that leaving his girlfriend was part of the second journey to his other side, that this was connected somehow (because of how empty his life become, even the one... not joy... but left interaction was gone, to not mention the one which meant to him his entire being and life...).
From hurting so much, and dreaming, the dreaming part is the most important one, to not forget that is what Sumire said to him, I think through this, he went to the other side where Sumire was, and that this reality was very real, real like the one we live in. This was the reality he wanted so strong, reality where Sumire lives and chooses him over Miu.
I can't think that he didn't do something drastical, he sure slit some dog's throat. What meant Murakami by this? Of course a metaphor, but even like one meant that he did it. One thing, painful thing, to get there, now that wasn't left anything in the world to hold onto.
They got together by dreaming.
This was what Sumire said.
This was what K understood.


message 48: by Haripriya (new)

Haripriya R I don’t know if people will read this, but I’ve a theory.
Don’t you think that for a character with practically no role in the book, Sumire’s dad was described way too much? His perfect nose, in particular.
In the party where Sumire and Miu first met, Miu asked about her father and gasped when she saw him, which Sumire assumed to be the usual reaction to her father’s handsomeness.
Then Miu, a perfect stranger, hired Sumire with no qualifications.
In Miu’s story, the guy who seems to be her rapist is a Japanese, handsome, old guy with, guess what? A PERFECT NOSE.
I want to believe Miu killed Sumire for her revenge.


message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

Haripriya wrote: "I don’t know if people will read this, but I’ve a theory.
Don’t you think that for a character with practically no role in the book, Sumire’s dad was described way too much? His perfect nose, in pa..."

I've noticed the same thing, and I thought for a brief second as you, but it seemd too absurd to hold such an opinion. Who knows, weird (but beautiful!) book.


message 50: by Rita (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rita Haripriya wrote: "I don’t know if people will read this, but I’ve a theory.
Don’t you think that for a character with practically no role in the book, Sumire’s dad was described way too much? His perfect nose, in pa..."


My mind is blown! How did I not see that connection?! Great find.
Ah, the ambiguity and beauty of Murakami.


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