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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
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Archived 2014 Group Reads > The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by H. Murakami, Book III, Chapters 10-19

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Zulfiya (ztrotter) So we can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel, and soon we should see the culmination or at least the resolution of certain threads and clues.

1. Do you think the boy whose night experience is occasionally relayed in the novel is Cinnamon?

2. What is the role of Cinnamon in the book?

3. Why does May's narrative interrupt the main flow of the novel?

4. Those of you who read 1Q84, what do you think of Ushikawa? Why does Murakami use him again in his later novel 1Q84?

5. How do you interpret the situation with Kumiko? Has she been kidnapped? Kept hostage?

6. Do you see how all the loose threads will come together or do you think this is an existential novel of self-discovery and self-perception?

Guys, I am sorry for being late with this post and Les Mis. I was under the weather last week because of the stress-related shingles, and Sunday was not the most peaceful day in Arkansas, especially in the afternoon and evening.

I will post les Mis on Tuesday and will comment on the previous discussion.


message 2: by John (last edited Apr 29, 2014 06:10AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments I was totally thrilled to see Ushikawa again. Oddball characters are one of HM's most attractive specialties. I'm not sure there's a reason for his repeat appearance, other than he fits the needs of the narrative and is a great character.

An interesting, but probably mostly irrelevant note (This will include a spoiler tag, but the spoiler is for 1Q84, *not* for Wind-Up Bird):

Ushi's appearance here happens approximately during December 1984 to January 1985, if I remember correctly. In 1Q84, (view spoiler) Maybe it has something to do with 1Q84's parallel universe? Or, more likely, it's just a meaningless narrative discrpancy. But it's fun to speculate about.

This is pure wishful thinking, but I would LOVE if Murakami made recurring characters one of his trademarks. How much fun would it be to see May Kasahara pop up in another book? :D


Zulfiya (ztrotter) John wrote: "I was totally thrilled to see Ushikawa again. Oddball characters are one of HM's most attractive specialties. I'm not sure there's a reason for his repeat appearance, other than he fits the needs o..."

He is indeed a great but freakish character. I assume you have read 1Q84, and Murakami portrays a multi-layered world in the novel, so maybe it is a clue to tell us that the world Toru belongs to is not our world; thus, the dreams, the extrasensory abilities for Honda and other people, the mysterious disappearances. At that moment, with the introduction of Ushikawa, I start questioning how real this world is or what world it is in the Wind-up Bird Chronicle.

It is ironic that I am reading these two books in reverse, first 1Q84, and then The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, so it is a post-allusion (excuse me for a clumsy neologism) to his other novel and his authorial vision


message 4: by Zulfiya (last edited May 01, 2014 04:50PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Zulfiya (ztrotter) John wrote: " But it's fun to speculate about."

Absolutely! We sually talk about original works and their influence on later novels, and here we are in a certain temporal literary paradox. At that moment our novel was written , Murakami obviously did not know that he would write 1Q84 with the same character. So can future actions affect the past action? :-) What an astrophysical stretch .... even for sci-fi:-)


John (johnred) | 364 comments Future actions are affecting the past?? Z, I think you'd better go outside and check how many moons are in the sky! ;)

Hey, here's an interesting observation that I read elsewhere. I think it was on Reddit. I'm not sure what if anything to take from it though:

• Ushikawa is the agent of Noboru. Cinnamon is the agent of Toru.
• Ushikawa is slovenly, ugly, and talks too much.
• Cinnamon is very neat, beautiful, and silent.
It seems they have opposite forces working for them...?


Zulfiya (ztrotter) There are two moons in the sky, according to Murakami! :-)


message 7: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda | 1350 comments So on the one hand I feel as if I'm finally seeing things start to tie together, but on the other hand I feel as if I still don't know what's going on! Hopefully that will become clearer later on.

I have not read 1Q84 so I can't make any comparisons to it and the worlds portrayed in that book. It is cool that there is character overlap, though! Yes, Ushikawa feels "toadlike" to me. ha ha.

So I just want to list some observations to get things straight, if only for myself here:

1. I do take the boy as Cinnamon as he states his voice was taken. (But he says "it was not the word that had disappeared". Does he then mean more literally that his vocal chords were gone, or something more grand since now he finds himself in a new body or "new container". What exactly was taken from him, I wonder?). It is at this point that he no longer hears the Wind-Up Bird cry.

2. We know that Toru stopped hearing the Wind-Up Bird creak early in the book. From that time on, at least, he seems to be an empty shell, not knowing what to do with himself, having no purpose. He even receives as a gift an empty box, and dreams of an empty guitar case.

3. We then find out that Nutmeg performs so-called "fittings" of women, which somehow make the women feel better. It does nothing for Nutmeg,though, and she finds her relief in talking to Cinnamon. She then wonders "who heals Cinnamon?". We also find out that her successor must be Toru because of the mark on his cheek.

So...the blue mark identifies a particular person as some sort of healer, it seems. The lieutenant from the zoo must have been a healer since he had the mark and also at one time heard the Wind-Up Bird. I assume he must have transferred his healing abilities to Nutmeg, although she was a young child at the time? Does she also have a mark somewhere which is not visible? But then what is Cinnamon's role in all this? It seems he is similar to Toru in being an "empty container" and not hearing the bird anymore. So, this is where I am confused as to how everyone fits together here. If Toru is the next "Nutmeg", why is he also similar in ways to Cinnamon?

Well, I was surprised to find May working in a factory, I did not think of that possibility. The section where she talks about how all she does is work and then on the weekends she catches up on laundry and cleaning, and then she has to fit sleeping in, and at the end of it the actual amount of free-time she has to do nothing is really very small - I sure have felt this way from time to time! It was funny to see it all written out and I thought "so some people also think this way!". What does this mean, though, in terms of the theme of the novel? I'm still thinking this through. :)


Deana (ablotial) Linda - I agree, I was surprised to find May working in a factory... even a wig factory ... and was amazed that in her first letter she thought that Toru could guess where she had gone. How in the world? I wonder if, back when she first explained about the wig surveys, she said that that company wanted her to work and make wigs so he might remember it? I skimmed the back sections but didn't see anything in that first pass.

I am now convinced that the boy with the nighttime adventures was Cinnamon. And what strange adventures he had! I wonder what it could all mean -- whose heart WAS that, and what exactly went missing from the boy to prevent him from speaking?

Do you think Nutmeg for her "fittings" is removing that "squishy something" from the women? Whatever it was that was removed from Creta Kano, and that May suspects is in her (assuming those are the same type of thing)?

Very concerned about the repurcussions of Toru breaking into the computer system. I feel like this can't end well -- I bet Cinnamon can detect this easily and they will not be happy to have been betrayed..... And I do wonder if there will be ulterior motives on the part of Ushikawa - maybe once Toru is using that computer it is easier for Ushikawa to break in and find out what is happening in that house.

As for Ushikawa appearing in both books, I do find it odd to reuse a character but maybe Murakami just found Ushi compelling somehow. I suppose it could be a different world, as you say. I do see some similarity between the two versions of the young boy, curling up next to each other in bed, and the other version of a person coming out of the chrysalis (I forget exactly what it was called) in 1Q84.


message 9: by John (last edited May 03, 2014 08:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

John (johnred) | 364 comments Deana wrote: "I wonder what it could all mean -- whose heart WAS that, and what exactly went missing from the boy to prevent him from speaking?"

When we first were introduced to Young Cinnamon's nighttime experience, I was convinced that we would find out the men were burying a dead baby or aborted fetus...just because of the previous baby/pregnancy theme...but when it turned out to be a heart, I didn't know what to think. I still think that the heart was probably standing in for something else, for HM seems to do that a lot. Perhaps it was actually one of the "Gooshy Things"?

Deana wrote: "I do find it odd to reuse a character but maybe Murakami just found Ushi compelling somehow."

It's well known that HM is a huge fan of the detective novels of Raymond Chandler...I think Ushikawa is a way for him to play hardboiled detective a bit :)...In 1Q84 this is even more apparent.


message 10: by Anna (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anna Moore (ihad2muchcoffee) After another round of disturbing executions--this time the zoo animals--and Nutmeg's traumatic experience aboard the ship back to Japan, May's letter does seem a bit random. Her first letter talked about the wig factory, her job, living conditions, and so on. Her second letter offers more insight. She said she felt that by concentrating on her work, she was getting closer to the "real me." By not thinking of herself she can get closer to her core. Then she said most of the other girls would work there until they got married. They knew "this is a finite period suspended between one world and other." The third letter she questions her place in the world and wonders if maybe the world has two different kinds of people. I'm beginning to think the wig factory is May's well.


message 11: by Linda (new) - added it

Linda | 1350 comments Anna wrote: "I'm beginning to think the wig factory is May's well. "

Ooooh - nice! I like that.


Zulfiya (ztrotter) Anna wrote: "I'm beginning to think the wig factory is May's well. "

Everyone has his or her own well, even reckless May has one.


Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments Linda wrote: "The section where she talks about how all she does is work and then on the weekends she catches up on laundry and cleaning, and then she has to fit sleeping in, and at the end of it the actual amount of free-time she has to do nothing is really very small - I sure have felt this way from time to time! It was funny to see it all written out and I thought "so some people also think this way!"

I chuckled at this section also, and I thought "well, welcome to adult life, honey!"


Alana (alanasbooks) | 456 comments I honestly don't know that much about computer systems in this time period, but I found it very odd that they needed the computer's password in order to set up a kind of instant messaging type communication. Wouldn't that just be done through a network of some kind? Or am I thinking of much more recently technology? And what kind of password is only three characters long?!?


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