At the bottom of the well

In Haruki Murakami’s strange and wonderful book The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, the main character, Toru, retreats to the bottom of a well after learning that his wife has cheated on him.

When a mischievous neighbour lifts up the ladder, he is left there for three days. In pitch darkness, his mind turns inward. His introspection is complete. There is literally nowhere else to journey but to whatever is at his kernel.

Toru is no great philosopher. Life happens to him, he doesn’t question its vacillations, and he doesn’t strive to understand what is happening to him.

When bad things happen to him though, we sympathise with him. He is uncorrupted. Even after his stay at the bottom of the well, he does not emerge with any great revelations.

Thorughout the book, Murakami raises more questions than he answers. Should we try and shape our own futures? Is a directionless life any less worth living than one directed at a cause?

What, in the end, dictates what happens to us? What is wisdom, and is it real?

And when all is said and done, what does it all matter?

I guess we all have our own wells, and our own answers. But I think Murakami would find that a bit too simplistic.

Toru begins the book by looking for his cat, which has run away. He is still looking for it at the end of the book.


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