TV People by Haruki Murakami
In TV People by Haruki Murakami we have the theme of connection, relationships, uncertainty, confusion, acceptance and mental illness. Taken from his The Elephant Vanishes collection the story is narrated in the first person by an unnamed man and after reading the story the reader realizes that Murakami may be exploring the theme of connection. The narrator throughout the story appears to be trying to make a connection with others. Something he seems to do unconsciously. When he goes to work he has meetings and makes points to his colleagues. Points that may or may not be relevant but which are enough to keep the narrator engaged with his work colleagues. Also the narrator thinks about contacting his wife by telephone. He has no reason to do so, apart from being unsure of what is happening in the office (the TV people are there as well).
Though only briefly mentioned in the story the narrator’s wife plays an important role. She acts a base to how the narrator is thinking. Though he is confused as to why she never mentions the TV to him. This may be important and in all possibility the TV does not exist nor do the TV people. They are figments of the narrator’s imagination. An imagination that has gone into overload. The narrator is most likely mentally ill and imagining the world around him. Though some critics have also suggested that the narrator’s wife is having an affair and the narrator is unable to decipher the signs. He does after all admit to problems in the marriage but it might also be worth noting that nothing seems out of step for the narrator. This too could be important as it suggests the possibility that the narrator may be in denial.
There may also be some symbolism in the story which might be important. The TV people may highlight the escape that the narrator takes from reality. A reality he is not willing to accept. He works in advertising and would be used to people who work in the TV industry. So seeing them would not be something that is unusual for the narrator. However his wife, and work colleague, do not see the TV or the TV people. Leading the reader to the conclusion that the narrator is having a breakdown of sorts. The clock constantly ticking in the apartment might represent not only the passing of time but the intensity of the moment for the narrator. It is as though he is timing his breakdown. The dream that the narrator has might also be significant as it could suggest that the stone TV people in the dream are not real. The first insight for the narrator that things may be off. However interestingly enough the TV is not off. The airplane is being built and could represent a possible escape route for the narrator from the position he finds himself in.
The end of the story is interesting as it becomes clear that the narrator is somewhat worried about the position he finds himself in. For the first time in the story the narrator might be questioning himself. If anything he may be acting reflective. Particularly if his wife is having an affair with another man. He may have come to a realization that both he and the state of his marriage are not in good positions. Through stress the narrator may have created a world around himself in whereby he can still act functionally. Despite the fact that his reality has fallen apart. No matter what angle the reader judges the story by there is no doubt that the narrator has encountered a situation that he does not seem able to get out of.