A Window by Haruki Murakami
In A Window by Haruki Murakami we have the theme of loneliness, honesty, curiosity, desire, writing, connection and confusion. Taken from his The Elephant Vanishes collection the story is narrated in the first person by a thirty-two year old man who is recalling events ten years previously. When he worked for the Pen Society as a Pen Master and if anything the narrator felt as though the women who wrote to him and who he wrote back to were lonely and prepared to discuss openly and honestly all aspects of their lives. This is particularly true when the narrator meets one of his correspondents in her apartment even though it is against Society rules curiosity has gotten the better of the narrator. The woman is exceptionally lonely and confides in the narrator that she is unhappy in her marriage and cannot express herself to her husband.
This lack of connection is why the woman first joined the Pen Society. She wanted to tell somebody how she was feeling, honestly. It may also be a case that the woman, like the narrator, has desires that are not met. For the narrator it was as wanting of a plain hamburger. While for the woman it was her desire to be understood by others, again to connect in some way with somebody who might understand her. It is also interesting that the narrator quashes the woman’s dreams to have a career as a writer. If anything there is a sense that the narrator has been cruel in some way. Though it is possible that the woman lacks the self-esteem or confidence to be a writer. She may have fallen at the first hurdle.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The title of the story is a suggestive of the narrator’s insight or view of other people’s lives through his correspondence with them. The trains that pass through the outside of the apartment are fleeting. Just as the narrator’s time with the woman is fleeting. The letters themselves, which the writer receives are obviously symbolism for individual desire or the need to connect with another person. The variety of letters that the narrator receives suggests that life itself is made up of different types of people. All kinds of letters, boring letters, funny letters and sad letters are replied to by the narrator. Though one suspects that just as he may have been slightly cruel to the woman when it comes to writing. Likewise he may have been too honest with his other correspondents. There is a sense of harshness rather than compassion or empathy. Though the narrator was still a young man at the time and may not have necessarily had the life experience that is needed when communicating with others.
The end of the story is interesting as Murakami appears to be exploring the theme of confusion. The narrator is unable to let go of the woman despite only spending an afternoon with her and not really remembering her letters. If anything the narrator is confused as to whether he should have had sex with the woman. Though it is open as to whether the woman would have been willing to have sex with him. If anything the narrator is not only confused but he has regrets. Despite wanting to leave his job as Pen Master he actually liked doing the job and may actually miss it.