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The Woman In The Dunes And After Dark Analysis

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Then, through her conversion with Takahashi, Mari is able to explore herself further. Abandoning her original recognition that she is a coward, she starts to see the other aspects hidden in her identity:
Mari thinks about Takahashi's words. "I am a coward, though," she says.
[Takahashi:] "Now there you're wrong. A cowardly girl doesn't go out alone like this in the city at night. You wanted to discover something here. Right?"
[Mari:] "What do you mean, 'here'?"
[Takahashi:] "Some place different: some place outside your usual territory." (186) In The Woman in the Dunes and After Dark, Abe and Murakami both set up the others as the mirrors through which their protagonists can see their self-images and further gain self-realization.
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At the beginning of the novel, Takahashi describes Mari as someone who “can never take the initiative to talk to anybody” (14). He thinks her as a strange girl because Mari speaks more often in Chinese though she is a Japanese. Here, Mari also represents “a man without a hometown.” She alienates from not only her own family but also her compatriots through abandoning their public language. Without any social connection, she can only sit alone at Denny’s Restaurant every night. Her interaction with the Chinese prostitute Dongli is a transforming point, which provides her with a chance to regain her sense of belonging. Sympathizing with wounded Dongli, Mari expresses her kindness through offering Dongli a smile— “her first smile since midnight” (45). She further empathizes with Dongli and says: "She's nineteen—like me" (55). Finally, she confesses: “The minute I saw her, I felt—really strongly—that I wanted to be her friend. And if we had met in a different place at a different time, I'm sure we could have been good friends. I've hardly ever felt that way about anybody. Hardly ever? Never would be more like it” (135). At this moment, the wall that previously alienates Mari from others breaks down. Now, she feels an urge to integrate back into her family and to forge connections with others. Mari recalls once she and her sister were trapped in danger, but she had no fear as she tells: “I entrusted myself completely to her arms. The two of us became one: there were no gaps between us. We even shared a single heartbeat" (190). While recalling the love that her sister devotes to her, Mari realizes that the sense of belonging starts within the family. Like Niki Jumpei, she now understands the motto “Love Your Home” and begins to work on intimate social relations with the people around
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