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Self-Protecting Mechanisms In Sputnik Sweetheart By Haruki Murakami

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Self-Protecting Mechanisms in Sputnik Sweetheart by Haruki Murakami

Millions of people in this world, all of them yearning, looking to others to satisfy them, yet isolating themselves. Why? Was the earth put here just to nourish human loneliness?(179)

--Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

Even though Sputnik Sweetheart seem to be a novel portraying a complicated love story between three people, Murakami in fact illustrates different mechanisms the main characters use to protect themselves from traumatic events each of them have encountered in certain periods of their lives. By discussing these mechanisms Murakami brings up the reader's attention to some phenomena in present (Japanese) society: escapism in youth society, avoiding trouble by expressing indifference, the growing loneliness in the crowd, and most importantly, the losing of individual existence and identities. Because of the fast developing technology and highly competitive environment, people are locked in their own worlds; they lose the heart to care. The stressful atmosphere created by this indifference produces negative effects on people. Murakami, with Sputnik Sweetheart, demonstrates these phenomena by analyzing the main characters' protecting mechanisms.

The images of the three main characters--the narrator K, Sumire, and Miu--and the minor characters are created to represent the current human society. Despite the strange plots of the novel, Murakami portrays the characters as unique but [] as they can be to build up the idea that any of us could have been one of them: K the narrator is an elementary school teacher, Sumire who quit college to write, and Miu, a strong independent businesswoman. Furthermore, Murakami sees through the three main characters' eyes. As Patricia Welch, the author of "Haruki Murakami's Storytelling World," states, Murakami speaks from "individual's perception of the word" (Welch 56). He speaks from each character's point of view, and makes the characters tell each other's story in second person to make the whole story complete. By switching the narratives in the novel, Murakami makes his story even more true to life and yet with extra space allowing the reader's imagination.

With a more in-depth understanding of how Murakami represents his character, we can now discuss each character's self-protecting mechanisms and relate them to the reality. The three basic mechanisms are escapism, avoidance, and memory blocking or variation. Vanishing from a small foreign island like "a smoke" after her heart breaking night with Miu, Sumire demonstrates the escapism from reality. By not telling where Sumire went to during the time she disappeared, Murakami demonstrates human's natural instinct of escaping from uncomfortable situations to make herself safe. Running away from an inacceptable situation, Sumire protects herself from getting hurt more. Sumire's action is not the best



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