The significance and impact of the supernatural in Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore One of the most striking features of Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore is the use of supernatural elements. There are many instances in the book where supernatural events occur and are never really explained by the author. This may seem off-putting to some readers who want all knots tied and events explained, and to others, it just adds to the exquisite and unique taste of the book, whose conclusion creates more questions and answers none. Ghosts appear and make love to the characters, animal rain from the sky, there seems to be past or present in time and music and art serve as doorways inside a person’s soul. Murakami never gives a perceived explanation for these events and merely provides hints that make us think that the whole incident might have been just a metaphor. Regardless of the frustrating lack of answers, each supernatural event in the book is very significant and has an impact on the work as a whole.
Let’s take, for example, an instance about halfway through the book where Nakata and Hoshino stop at a rest stop on the way to their destination. As Nakata steps out for fresh air, he sees a young man getting beat up by some teenagers. He attempts to try and stop them, and we as the readers find it comical that this weak, old, frail man who talks to cats and constantly calls himself ‘dumb’, is actually dumb enough to try to put a stop to the incident by himself. This moment can be compared to the quests of Don Quixote and the Coyote’s attempt to catch the Roadrunner because we know that his ‘quest’ is hopeless and he is going to fail. However, what comes next surprises us. Nakata calmly opens his umbrella in the middle of the day and leeches rain down from the sky (Suddenly, unfamiliar greasy objects began to rain down from the sky, striking the ground at their feet with a weird slap; “Leeches!”, one of the men cried; Page 210). This event drastically changes our impression of Nakata.
We realize that this man is not weak after all despite everything that we know about him until now. He can make animals rain from the sky without any effort, in the blink of an eye. We finally learn what a powerful individual Nakata is, contrary to our previous impressions of him being a weak, useless character in the book. We have a newfound respect for him, and feeling that he is capable of much greater things. This, I feel, is the moment we are revealed by the author that Nakata is not a joke of a character as we may have thought. It is probably a foreshadowing that he will play a much more capable role in the story as it continues, and he does, learning of and interacting with the entrance stone which serves as the pillar for the plot during the third-quarter of the book. After this incident, the supernatural events in the book intensify and we really get into the thick of the plot. It is extremely evident that this occurrence is very significant and impacts the work greatly. Again, the author never gives us an explanation as to how Nakata did what he did or of the other supernatural events in the book, but it is up to us to construct a viable explanation. However, there is no doubt that all of such events serve a purpose and are very important to the novel as a whole.