The Silence by Haruki Murakami
In The Silence by Haruki Murakami we have the theme of letting go, fear, anger, rivalry, forgiveness and acceptance. Taken from his The Elephant Vanishes collection the story is narrated in the third person by an unnamed narrator and after reading the story the reader realizes that Murakami may be exploring the theme of letting go. Despite the passing of time (approx. fifteen years) Ozawa is unable to let go of his time in High School and his relationship with a fellow student called Aoki. To suggest there is s personality clash is an understatement and it appears as though Ozawa is the only one, at least in his eyes, that can see through Aoki. There is an intense rivalry between both characters something that manifests itself into hatred when Ozawa gets top of the class for his English examination. There is no disputing that Aoki, who is considered the better student academically, feels defeated and jealous of Ozawa. Hence his starting rumours about Ozawa. Both at the time of the examination and later on in High School.
It is also interesting that both Ozawa and Aoki fear each other. Ozawa might not know it or understand it but his relationship with Ozawa, till he reaches a point of forgiveness, is driven by fear and his unacceptability to his peers. The fact that Ozawa is able to forgive Aoki is important as it suggests that and allows for Ozawa to partially though not fully move on. He knows that he will continue to encounter people like Aoki and when he does he makes it his point to walk in the opposite direction. Leaving the reader to consider that Ozawa is permanently scarred by his relationship as a teenager, with Aoki. Again in reality Ozawa has never really let go of his past and he often dreams of Aoki and the negative effect that period of time had on his life.
That negativity is symbolically explored through the clouds at the airport. Just as the clouds remain still. So too does Ozawa. He may have become an adult, married and have a child but he remains rooted, if not somewhat paralyzed, by his past and the things he went through. Which included a fear inducing interview with the police over Matsumoto’s death. An incident that Ozawa may correctly have attributed to Aoki’s involvement. There may be other symbolism in the story which might be important. The fact that Ozawa is able to stare down Aoki on the train is due to his discipline as a boxer. Also the fact that Ozawa doesn’t hit Aoki for a second time is down to discipline he has learnt as a boxer. The setting of the story may also be significant as just as one goes to an airport to reach another destination. Ozawa is taking the narrator to a place. A very personal place.
The end of the story is interesting. Even though Ozawa has accepted he will meet people like Aoki again in life. He remains very much afraid of such altercations. The silence he encountered in High School only lasted six months and he does not know how long it would last as an adult. He would be driven to loneliness. Something that makes Ozawa cry at night. Again despite the passing of time. However despite still being scarred Ozawa’s ability to tell his story to the narrator does suggest that at least Ozawa has the ability to verbalize his pain. Something that many people would be unable or not know how to do. Such can be the overwhelming intensity of feelings. Many people will never understand what drives them to do particular things or what drives others to do things to them. This is not a problem for Ozawa.