Section 1, Chapter 1 Summary
As 1Q84 begins, Aomame is stuck in traffic in a taxi on the Metropolitan Expressway Number 3 in Tokyo. The radio is playing a classical music piece, Janáček’s Sinfonietta. Aomame reflects that when this music was written, nobody knew that World War II was coming. In her mind, she broadens this point to express what she thinks is the central lesson of history: “At the time, nobody knew what was coming.”
Next, Aomame’s thoughts turn to her name, which means “green peas.” It is an odd name that often makes people laugh when they hear it. Privately, she thinks that she might be a better person if she had a more normal name that did not make her feel ridiculed.
As the Sinfonietta continues playing, Aomoame wonders why she knows the name of this particular piece. She is not a particularly avid music fan, and she normally only recognizes music that is more well-known. As she listens, she gets “an odd, wrenching kind of feeling,” as if her body is being “physically wrung out.”
The driver asks if Aomame has urgent business at her destination, and she says that she does. He explains that the traffic jam is very bad and that the taxi will be stuck on the expressway for several hours. She finds it odd that he is telling her this, since she knows for a fact that he has not been listening to the traffic report. He tells her that those reports are mostly lies:
If you really want to know what’s happening here and now, you’ve got to use your own eyes and your own judgment.
As the conversation continues, the driver says that Aomame is certainly going to be late—unless she tries an unconventional method of getting where she is going. He points out an emergency staircase that leads down to the street below. If Aomame gets out of the car and goes down those stairs, she will be able to walk to a subway station and reach her meeting on time.
When Aomame decides to take the stairs, the driver suggests that this choice may change her life:
It's just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary...And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little...But don’t let appearances fool you. There’s...
(The entire section is 523 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Section 1, Chapter 2 Summary
Tengo Kawana has a vivid memory from when he was a baby. In the memory, he is in his crib, and he sees a man who is not his father sucking on his mother’s breasts. All his life, this memory has returned to Tengo at odd times. When he least expects it, it overtakes his consciousness like a sort of seizure.
Today Tengo’s memory comes to him when he is sitting at a café with his friend Komatsu. After the spell passes, Tengo feels drained. Komatsu asks if it was some kind of fit, but Tengo claims it was only a dizzy spell. Privately, he reflects that he has never told anyone about the image he sees.
Tengo and Komatsu discuss the recent submissions to a literary contest for new writers. In particular, they discuss a novella called Air Chrysalis, which was written by a seventeen-year-old girl named Fuka-Eri. They agree that this story has a germ of real beauty in it, but that its style and grammar are terrible.
During this conversation, Tengo reflects that Komatsu is a widely disliked but highly successful editor. He works for a prestigious literary journal and has a way of getting his hands on the best new work. Because of this, people treat him with respect. However, he is brusque and rude to nearly everyone around him.
Tengo is a writer. He met Komatsu five years ago when he submitted a story to the new writers contest. The story did not win, but it caught Komatsu's attention. Ever since, Tengo has occasionally submitted stories to Komatsu for criticism and discussion. None of this fiction has yet been published, but Tengo knows that he is improving. Meanwhile, he does occasional freelance writing work and helps to screen contest submissions. For a living, Tengo teaches math at a cram school in Tokyo.
As the conversation about Air Chrysalis continues, Komatsu says that the novella could be a literary sensation. However, it needs drastic revisions that Fuka-Eri cannot make herself. Komatsu asks Tengo to re-write the story as a ghostwriter. If Tengo does a good job, Komatsu will put the story on the short list for the contest. Fuka-Eri will still be listed as the sole author, but all three of them—Tengo, Komatsu, and Fuka-Eri—will share the royalties if the book is eventually published.
This plan seems risky to Tengo, who thinks this plan is sure to result in scandal. However, he is so moved by the story that he does...
(The entire section is 436 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Section 1, Chapter 3 Summary
As Aomame descends the emergency stairwell, she continues hearing Janáček’s Sinfonietta in her mind. Her thoughts become disordered during the long climb down. She thinks for a while about a lesbian experience she had with her friend Tamaki in high school. When she tries to force her thoughts back to the present reality, she has an odd sensation that her memories are all jumbling together. This bothers her because she is normally a very precise person and because she needs her wits today.
When Aomame reaches the street level, she is relieved not to find any security guards waiting for her. However, she soon realizes that she is in an enclosed storage yard with a locked gate. The fence is topped with barbed wire, and she doubts that she can climb it. Annoyed, she looks around for a way out. After a careful search, she finds a cut spot in the chain link fence that is just big enough for her to slip through.
Aomame dusts herself off and makes her way to the subway. At her destination, she rents a storage locker and stows her jacket so that she can appear at her appointment looking professional and put-together in her nice suit. As a final measure, she unbuttons the top button of her blouse so that she can flash her cleavage if necessary.
On her way to the appointment, Aomame passes a police officer on the street and notices that he is wearing a new kind of uniform. He is also carrying a heavy semi-automatic pistol rather than the normal six-shooter police officers usually carry. This bothers Aomame because she would normally notice if a major change happened to police uniforms and weaponry.
Aomame puts these thoughts out of her mind and makes her way to a hotel. She finds room 426 and knocks on the door. The man in the room, Miyama, grumbles that he is busy working and does not want to be disturbed. She talks her way inside, pretending that she needs to examine the air conditioning unit. As she does so, she reflects that Miyama is a despicable man who brutally abuses his wife.
Inside the hotel room, Aomame pretends to notice a spot of bright green paint on the back of Miyama’s neck. She asks him to bow his head so that she can scrape it off. He is obviously surprised by this request, but he complies. Aomame finds a certain spot on his neck with her finger. She reaches into her bag and takes out a small, pointed object that looks like an ice...
(The entire section is 631 words.)
Show us the love and view this for free! Use the facebook like button, or any other share button on this page, and get this content free!free!
Section 1, Chapter 4 Summary
In the middle of the night on Thursday, Tengo is awakened by a phone call. Even before answering, he knows who is on the other end of the line. Komatsu always calls whenever he feels the urge, regardless of the time of day. Tengo has often begged his friend to look at the time before dialing the phone, but Komatsu does what he wants.
When Tengo picks up the phone, Komatsu announces that he has scheduled a meeting with Fuka-Eri for the following evening. Tengo protests that he has not yet agreed to rewrite Air Chrysalis, but Komatsu brushes this off. He encourages Tengo to meet the girl before deciding.
On Friday evening, Tengo goes to the meeting. Fuka-Eri, a strikingly pretty high school girl, arrives late. She has a strange, direct way of looking at people, and she speaks only in short phrases that mimic her strangely spare writing style. When she asks questions, she does so without inflection or elaboration, often leaving Tengo to guess exactly what she means. She is not easy to talk to, but Tengo is nonetheless impressed by the force of her personality.
During the meeting, Tengo explains Komatsu’s plan for rewriting Air Chrysalis. Fuka-Eri just shrugs and says that Tengo can “fix” the story if he wants to. He asks why she feels this way, but she has no explanation. All she says is that she never had any intention of publishing the story. Someone else gave it its title and sent it to the competition.
Tengo does not really understand Air Chrysalis, which is a fantastical story involving magical creatures called Little People. As he struggles to explain why he likes it, he says, “Your imagination has a special kind of power.” She tells him that the Little People are real. Tengo does not know what to make of this, but he thinks that something is "out of the ordinary" about her. He says later to Komatsu:
[Fuka-Eri] may be seeing things that you and I don’t see. She might have something special.
At the end of the meeting, Fuka-Eri asks Tengo to meet someone with her. Under the circumstances, Tengo does not feel it would be right to deny her any reasonable request. He agrees to meet this other person on Sunday.
When Komatsu hears that Fuka-Eri has granted permission for the rewrite, he is very pleased. He encourages Tengo to start working on the story right away,...
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 5 Summary
Aomame needs to calm herself after her job, so she goes to a bar at a high-class hotel and orders a gin and tonic. As she sips her drink, she reads a book and surreptitiously watches the men who come and go. Privately, she reflects that she enjoys one-night stands with the sorts of men who stay in hotels like this one.
A balding man enters the bar and orders a Scotch highball. Aomame is attracted to bald men with nicely shaped heads, so she strikes up a conversation. The man is undisguisedly surprised that a young, beautiful woman is showing interest in him, but he chats amiably anyway. He tells her about his boring job, and she describes her own work as a “specialized profession” that causes her a great deal of stress.
Remembering the cop she spotted earlier, Aomame asks the bald man when the police changed their uniforms and guns. He claims that it happened about two years ago, and the bartender confirms this. However, Aomame remembers seeing a cop with the old-style uniform and gun just this morning. She wonders if she is going crazy.
To get her mind off this issue, Aomame asks her companion whether he has a relatively big penis. The man is obviously shocked at this question, but he describes his penis as slightly larger than average. He asks if Aomame is a prostitute. She assures him that she is not, but that she has had a hard day at work and wants to calm herself with some vigorous sex. She order's him to take her to his hotel room, and he does.
Aomame's companion's penis is relatively large “as advertised,” and he is a decent lover. When they are finished, he falls asleep. Aomame briefly flirts with the idea of using her ice pick on him. She resists the urge. “This man is not an especially bad person,” she says to herself.
Still in bed, Aomame flips on the news and watches each story carefully as always. During the show, she hears a mention of an observation post that is being built on the moon. This surprises her because she has never heard of it before, but the newscaster treats it as an old story. Aomame wonders if she has a strange form of insanity that makes her forget bits and pieces of news.
The news does not make any mention of a dead body in a hotel room. Aomame is relieved at this. It means one of two things: her victim has not yet been discovered, or no foul play is suspected in his death. Either way,...
(The entire section is 444 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 6 Summary
Komatsu calls Tengo at five o’clock in the morning to ask if he owns a word processor. Tengo replies that he cannot afford one on his teacher salary. Komatsu says that he wants to buy Tengo a word processor for use in the revision of Air Chrysalis. The original story was printed with a word processor, and the rewrite must look the same.
Tengo has a girlfriend, an older married woman with two kids who comes to his house once a week for sex. She is supposed to come today, but she cancels at the last minute. Tengo does not mind. Although he enjoys his low-stress, going-nowhere relationship, he is eager to get started on the Air Chrysalis project. He still has misgivings about the plan, but his imagination is already wrapped up in the story.
As soon as Tengo gets the word processor, he sits down and starts working. He quickly types up the beginning of the story and then begins revising it. First he adds text to flesh it out, and then he deletes superfluous parts. After going through this process several times, he prints the pages and works through them carefully with a pen, adjusting the word choice so that it conveys the greatest possible power. He types these changes into the word processor and reads the finished product.
Fuka-Eri’s story describes a ten-year-old girl who lives on a farm commune. She is supposed to care for a blind goat, but she makes a mistake that causes it to die. As punishment, the girl is locked up with the goat’s corpse for ten days. The corpse becomes a portal to a world of Little People. They speak to the girl and teach her how to make an air chrysalis.
Tengo enjoys the revision process. As he works, he becomes convinced that parts of the story are true. Fuka-Eri really seems to have lived on a commune and cared for a goat. It is difficult to imagine how a seventeen-year-old girl could invent the details of the story otherwise.
When Tengo stops working to make dinner, he gets a call from Fuka-Eri. She asks him to meet her at a certain subway station at nine o’clock on Sunday morning. She asks about the rewrite, and he says that it is going well. He asks about the blind goat, and she refuses to talk about it. This seems to confirm his suspicion that she really took care of such an animal.
(The entire section is 417 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 7 Summary
On Saturday, Aomame goes to the home of her wealthy employer. On the lawn, she speaks with Tamaru, an enormous bodyguard with a gentle demeanor. As they chat, he says mildly that a man has turned up dead of a heart attack in a nearby hotel. From this, Aomame understands that the authorities have not attributed Miyama’s death to murder.
Tamaru escorts Aomoame into a greenhouse full of plants and butterflies. There she meets with her employer, an elderly dowager who inherited a great deal of money from her aristocratic husband. When he died just after World War II, the dowager went into business. She compounded her fortune through the stock market and real estate investments. Now she is retired.
After Tamaru leaves, the dowager says that a man has died. She does not directly mention a murder, but she thanks Aomame and says that there would be no way to replace her. Aomame replies that it is always possible to find a way to get a job done. However, the dowager says she would miss Aomame if anything bad happened.
The dowager gets out a stack of photographs of a woman covered in welts and cigarette burns. Aomame studies them in disgust. This, she knows, was the work of Miyama, the man she killed. “We can’t let anyone get away with doing something like this,” the dowager says. Aomame agrees.
When Aomame leaves, she stops to speak with Tamaru again. He tells her that the wife of the dead man is recovering fairly well from her injuries. He explains that her husband was so powerful that it would have been very difficult for her to get a divorce. Even if she had managed to separate herself from him, he would not have been induced to pay alimony. Now she will get a life insurance check that will help her to restart her life. Aomame asks about the other women who are living at the dowager’s safe house. He says that their husbands are also “nasty bastards,” but none will need Aomame’s attention.
Changing the subject, Aomame asks when the police changed their uniforms and guns. This question obviously alarms Tamaru. He is very loyal to the dowager, who would be in some danger if Aomame were caught by the police. He asks why she wants to know, but she refuses to explain.
Tamaru tells Aomame much the same story that she has already heard, but with more detail. According to him, the change happened two years ago after a shootout in which the...
(The entire section is 506 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 8 Summary
On Sunday morning, Tengo goes to meet Fuka-Eri. On the way he reflects that, as a child, he hated Sundays. His father collected fees for NHK, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation. His job required him to go from door to door collecting fees from anyone who used radios or televisions. On Tengo’s one day off from school, he was required to accompany his father. Reluctant customers were more likely to pay fees when Tengo was with his father, a fact which Tengo understood implicitly from a young age. He hated being used in this way, and he hated the fact that he did not have the freedom to enjoy himself as his friends did.
Tengo’s father was extremely poor. In the 1930s, along with many other impoverished Japanese, he moved to a new colony in Manchuria to start a farm. The work was backbreaking, and it barely allowed him to eke out a living. In Manchuria, he befriended a minor government official who tipped him off when the Soviet Army was about to invade the colony. At that point, Tengo’s father returned to Japan and attempted to make a living doing odd jobs. After the war, he met his official friend again and got a tip for the NHK fee collection job. This was a position that took little skill and earned little respect, but to Tengo’s father, who had never before earned a regular living, it constituted success: “In other words, he had finally worked his way up to the lowest spot on the totem pole.”
Throughout Tengo’s childhood, he was forced to listen to long stories about his father’s childhood and youth. The stories always culminated in the moment when he earned the NHK collection job and thus, in his mind, achieved success. Tengo’s father never said much about his marriage or Tengo’s birth. He only claimed that Tengo’s mother died when he was a baby. Tengo has always suspected that his mother did not really die. He thinks she abandoned him and his father and ran off with another man.
After Tengo meets Fuka-Eri, the two of them board a train out of town. During the trip, he questions her about her reading habits, and she says she reads extremely slowly. He asks for details and soon realizes that she is dyslexic. She admits that she did not type her manuscript herself, but rather dictated it to a friend.
This development makes Tengo very nervous. If Fuka-Eri is dyslexic, then it will be even harder than he thought to convince the world that she...
(The entire section is 489 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 9 Summary
Aomame spends most of the day on Sunday at a library, where she carefully reads through a series of old newspapers from the final months of 1981. She remembers many of the news stories she reads, but she finds two which she does not recall. One describes an NHK fee collector who murdered a college student after the student refused to pay his NHK fees. The other describes a shootout between police and residents of a commune at a place called Lake Motosu. Reading the details, she learns that the residents of the commune, a group of radical revolutionaries, killed several officers with automatic rifles. The story is clearly the same one Tamaru described.
Flipping through the newspapers, Aomame follows both of these unfamiliar news stories throughout their coverage. It is a strange experience for her to read news that is so recent yet so unfamiliar. She reads the paper faithfully every day, and it is not possible that she would have missed big events like these. Briefly, she considers the possibility that she is going insane and somehow eliminating her own memories. However, this explanation does not work for her. The gaps in her memory are too precise to be the product of accident or illness.
Aomame thinks hard and tries to come up with some other explanation for the strange phenomenon she has experienced. Only one idea occurs to her:
At some point in time, the world I knew either vanished or withdrew, and another world came to take its place.
She thinks back to the moment when she first noticed a change. Just before she saw that first police officer with the new uniform, she climbed down that staircase from the Metropolitan Expressway Number 3. Before that, she was in the back of a taxi, and she got a “wrenching” sensation while listening to Janáček’s Sinfonietta. She guesses that a change happened in the world around that time.
Aomame reads more articles on the Lake Motosu shootout, and she takes careful notes. She learns about the revolutionaries’ organic farm and about the officers’ poor performance during the standoff. She also reads up on the life of the composer Janáček and the insights that led him to compose the Sinfonietta.
After leaving the library, she goes out for a walk. She does not know what to do except watch for more signs of change in the world. In the...
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 10 Summary
Fuka-Eri leads Tengo by the hand out of their train and into another train. He does not know exactly what she means by holding his hand, but he guesses that she is not trying to be romantic. Inwardly he considers the possibility that she may be able to read his thoughts or emotions through touch. Whether or not this is the case, the human contact makes him feel better. His panic subsides.
They disembark at a rural train station, and Fuka-Eri finds a taxi. The driver takes them to a house out in the hills, well away from any other buildings. Tengo admires the view but thinks that whoever lives in this place must not care much for other people’s company.
Tengo and Fuka-Eri enter the house, sit down in bare room, and wait. Eventually, an elderly man comes in. He introduces himself as Ebisuno and explains that everyone, even his daughter Azami, just calls him Professor. He is Fuka-Eri’s guardian.
After a bit of polite chitchat, the Professor turns the conversation to Fuka-Eri’s book. He says that the plan for the rewrite sounds unethical. Tengo agrees. He says that he would refuse to be involved in the project if it were any other book. However, Air Chrysalis speaks to him personally, and he cannot help wanting to work on it.
Eventually, the Professor grants permission for the revision plan to continue. He comments that she has dyslexia, but that nobody really knows it except for himself, his daughter, and Fuka-Eri herself. Fuka-Eri’s rural teachers never understood the concept of dyslexia, and they regarded her as mentally deficient. Because of this, she has not attended formal schools for years. Nevertheless, the Professor assures Tengo that Fuka-Eri is intelligent and even wise in a way.
The Professor tells Tengo about Fuka-Eri’s childhood and how she came to be living with him. Her father, Tamotsu Fukada, used to be the Professor’s best friend. Fukada got mixed up in communism and revolutionary activities, and he ended up getting sent to prison. When he got out, he took his wife and daughter to live at a strictly organized commune called Takashima. There he learned farming and the principles of commune living. However, he disliked the governance there. The commune was like George Orwell’s 1984. People were required to become “mindless robots.” It was “foot binding for the...
(The entire section is 569 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 11 Summary
One of Aomame’s talents is her ability to kick a man in the testicles. She believes wholeheartedly that a skilled, unflinching attack of this kind is the only way that a woman can fend off a physical attack by a man. She has discussed this with male acquaintances, one of whom once told her that being kicked in the testicles
hurts so much you think the end of the world is coming right now. I don’t know how else to put it. It’s different from ordinary pain.
Aomame is fascinated by this description and by her observation of men’s vulnerability after a kick to the testicles. She watches the movie On the Beach, a dark story about people waiting for death after a large-scale nuclear war. Afterward she thinks that now she has some sense what a kick to the testicles feels like.
One evening, hungry for a one night stand, Aomame goes out to a bar. As she sips a drink, she reflects on how she met the dowager. Aomame works at a health club for wealthy people and celebrities, where she teaches martial arts and fitness classes. Her specialty is women’s self-defense, and she first met the dowager in one of these classes. When the two of them spoke after a class one day, Aomame commented that all women should know self-defense, regardless of age or social status: “A state of chronic powerlessness eats away at a person,” she explained. This statement obviously intrigued the dowager, who requested Aomame’s help as a masseuse and personal trainer soon afterward. In the privacy of Willow House, the dowager’s home, the two women gradually developed a mutual sense of trust.
In the bar, Aomame rebuffs advances by several young, good-looking men and keeps an eye out for the balding middle-aged men she prefers. She does not see anyone she finds interesting, but after a while, a woman named Ayumi strikes up a conversation. Aomame cannot disguise her surprise at being approached by a woman. Ayumi hurriedly assures Aomame that she is not a lesbian but rather a fellow girl on the prowl looking to “team up” with a friendly partner.
Aomame chats with Ayumi, who soon reveals that she is a police officer. Aomame replies that she is a martial arts instructor. As they chat, Ayumi spots a couple of nervous middle-aged men at a nearby table and suggests starting a conversation. Aomame agrees. She watches, impressed,...
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 12 Summary
In the middle of his description of Fuka-Eri’s history, the Professor asks her to go and make some tea. As soon as she is gone, he leans forward and rapidly explains a few important details that might upset her.
The Professor says that Fuka-Eri showed up on his doorstep seven years ago, several years before the Lake Motosu incident. He knew her well from her early childhood, and she was no longer the same happy, talkative little girl he used to know. She could not speak, and she had clearly been badly frightened. Even now, she refuses to talk about her experiences at the time.
The Professor called, wrote, and tried to visit the Sakigake compound many times, but he never managed to contact Fuka-Eri’s parents. Sakigake had previously been a friendly and welcoming place, but now leaders guarded the entrance and acted suspicious of visitors. The Professor began to worry that Fuka-Eri’s parents were being held captive, and he reported his suspicions to the police. They tried to investigate, but they had little legal right to an investigation. Sakigake had become a religious organization and shut out the public. The Professor has learned almost nothing from his many attempts to discover what happened inside the organization's walls.
Meanwhile, Fuka-Eri lived with the Professor since the day she arrived on his doorstep. At first, her inability or unwillingness to speak made it difficult for her to go to school. Because of this, he has tutored her himself. She has developed a strong friendship with his daughter, Azami. He has tried not to interfere with their relationship because it seems to be helping Fuka-Eri recover from whatever happened to her at the commune. She has grown more communicative since she dictated the manuscript of Air Chrysalis to Azami, and he is hopeful that this progress will continue. However, he has thus far found it impossible to get her to speak directly about her experiences.
After learning all this, Tengo travels back to Tokyo alone. During the journey, he thinks about a little girl who was in his class in elementary school. Her family belonged to a strict religious sect called the Society of Witnesses, and she was required to spend her Sundays traveling around the city with her mother, attempting to spread their religion. Tengo often spotted her while he was out with his father on the NHK rounds. It was not really possible for a...
(The entire section is 609 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 13 Summary
The morning after meeting Ayumi, Aomame awakes at home in her own bed with no memory of how she got there. She has a terrible hangover, which is unusual for her, and she cannot remember much from last night. She has a fuzzy memory of having sex with one man and then, after meeting back up with Ayumi, trading partners and having sex with the other man as well.
In the afternoon, Aomame goes to Willow House to give the dowager a deep tissue massage. The dowager accepts the painful treatment and says that it does her good. She suggests that Aomame consider having a committed relationship. At this, Aomame admits that she is already in love. However, the man does not know she exists, and she has no intention of revealing herself to him. The dowager hears this with an obvious sense of sadness.
This conversation makes Aomame think about the death of her childhood friend Tamaki Otsuka. Tamaki and Aomame met in high school. They bonded because they were the two best players on their school’s softball team and because they both had difficult home lives. Aomame, for reasons not yet revealed in the story, had left her family in fifth grade and gone to live with an uncle. She felt constantly lonely because she lacked her own family. Meanwhile, Tamaki’s parents had a “terrible relationship” that “turned the home into a wasteland.” Both girls badly needed consistent support, so for that they turned to each other.
Aomame and Tamaki remained friends into adulthood. Tamaki was unusually intellectually gifted, so she went to a university and to law school. Aomame attended a college of physical education and continued playing softball. For years they saw each other weekly. Aomame sought stability in adulthood, but Tamaki was “a born victim” who sought out a long series of bad relationships with men. While Aomame remained a virgin, Tamaki flung herself into a rocky sex life and, eventually, a bad marriage. After the wedding, she stopped seeing Aomame. On the phone, Tamaki claimed her life was wonderful, but then one day she wrote a letter expressing the exact opposite:
I feel utterly powerless, and that feeling is my prison. I entered of my own free will, I locked the door, and I threw away the key...I deserve all the pain I am feeling.
After reading these frightening words, Aomame tried to visit her friend, but she was...
(The entire section is 535 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 14 Summary
Shortly after he finishes the rewrite of Air Chrysalis, Tengo meets Komatsu in a café. Tengo admits that he enjoyed doing the rewrite and feels good about the product, but he is still worried about a possible scandal. He suggests withdrawing the piece from the new writers competition. Komatsu refuses. He says that the rewrite is too brilliant to suppress. At this point, it would be “a crime” to keep such a great piece of literature out of the public eye.
Komatsu offers only one critique of Tengo’s rewrite. At the end of the story, the narrator sees two moons in the sky. Komatsu says that the description of these two moons has to be more detailed so that the reader can really picture what the second moon looks like. Tengo agrees to make the change.
After leaving this meeting, Tengo tries to read a book, but he cannot concentrate. He keeps thinking about his strange memory of his mother having her nipple sucked by a strange man. Not for the first time, Tengo wonders if the man in the memory is his biological father. The man Tengo knows as his father, the one who raised him, always seemed to hate him. Tengo remembers one occasion, in fifth grade, when he asked for permission to study on Sundays instead of accompanying his father on the NHK rounds. For this his father kicked him out of the house. A concerned teacher let Tengo sleep on her couch and afterward convinced his father that it was not acceptable to abandon such a young child.
After that, Tengo and his father struck a tentative truce, and Tengo was allowed to stay home on Sundays. He was required to do housework for several hours, but after that he could do as he pleased. Tengo spent some of his free time having fun, but more often he studied. He excelled in school, especially math. However, as he grew older, he found that literature had a greater pull on him. Unlike math, fiction gave him glimpses of insight into human conditions Tengo found difficult to understand.
As soon as Tengo could, he moved out of his father’s house. In high school he won a judo scholarship that supplied tuition, dormitory housing, and meals. This made it possible for Tengo to end his reliance on his father. Once in his junior year, he was injured and unable to compete with the judo team for several weeks. At that point, a music teacher begged Tengo to play the drums in the school band, to replace two drummers who...
(The entire section is 473 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 15 Summary
As Aomame makes dinner, she reflects on the fact that she invests in few luxuries for herself. In childhood, such a life was forced on her by her parents, who strictly followed the doctrines of the Society of Witnesses. At the time, she only wanted to get away and live a normal life. But now that she is an adult, she realizes that she actually prefers a lifestyle of “self-denial and moderation.” Her needs are simple, and she prefers to avoid excess and clutter.
Whenever Aomame kills a man, the dowager gives her a lump sum of money. This payment is delivered in cash, in wrapped paper inside a post office box. She does not want the money, but the dowager insists on paying. She says that Aomame needs the "anchor" of real life to keep her focused on the reality of what she is doing. Aomame does not exactly understand this, but she accepts the money and keeps it, unspent, inside a safety deposit box at her bank.
While Aomame is cooking, Ayumi calls and suggests getting together for dinner sometime. Aomame reflects that Ayumi is her first friend since Tamaki died. Aomame suggests going out to a fancy French restaurant whose chef will give them a discount because he is a member of the gym where she works. Ayumi agrees.
Two days later, the two women meet at the restaurant. During the appetizer course, Ayumi asks if Aomame ever had a man “do funny things” to her when she was a child. Aomame says no and admits she remained a virgin until age twenty-six. However, she has been in love most of her life with a boy she knew as a child. She does not say Tengo’s name, but she mentions a story about holding hands in an elementary school classroom. As Aomame explains to Ayumi, she and the boy soon ended up in separate schools, so she has not seen him since fifth grade. She still loves him, but she has never looked for him since they were parted. She has a romantic notion that the two of them will simply run into each other by chance one day.
Ayumi finds this story amazing but says that she cannot imagine just sitting by and waiting for some chance encounter. What if it never happens? What if it only happens after the boy gets married and has two children? Aomame has thought of all this already, and she says that real love is enough by itself, whether or not it is returned. Love is “salvation in life.”
Ayumi, too, has an unrequited love story. Just after...
(The entire section is 704 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 16 Summary
Now that Tengo is finished with the rewrite of Air Chrysalis, he returns to his own writing and his normal, quiet life. He soon realizes that the experience with Fuka-Eri’s book has changed him. He starts work on a new novel, drawing on “a new wellspring” of words that has come to life inside him.
In May, Komatsu calls and says that Air Chrysalis won the new writers prize. The judges were unanimous, and they made the choice in just a few minutes. They will hold a press conference to announce the choice, and it will be Tengo’s job to prepare Fuka-Eri for this experience. Tengo protests that he was only supposed to rewrite the book, not coach Fuka-Eri in public speaking. Komatsu refuses to take no for an answer, and Tengo gives in.
Komatsu also brings up the division of the royalties for Air Chrysalis. He says that the three of them need to create a “business” that can distribute the profits without raising anyone’s suspicions. This makes Tengo uneasy, and he says that he wants no money for his work. Again Komatsu insists on having his own way.
A few days later, Tengo and Fuka-Eri meet at a coffee shop to discuss the press conference. Fuka-Eri shows up in a beautiful sweater that shows off her breasts. She shows no nervousness about speaking in public, but at Tengo’s request, she answers a few practice questions. She speaks with her ordinary confidence and simplicity, and Tengo is impressed by her performance. He is astounded to learn that her favorite book is Tale of the Heike, an obscure verse novel about war preserved from the oral tradition of thirteenth-century Japan. Her favorite music is by Bach. When he asks about particular pieces, she sings one for him in German. He soon realizes that there is no need to worry about the press conference. She will do very well in front of the cameras.
Before leaving the cafe, Tengo asks Fuka-Eri to dress for the press conference exactly as she is dressed now. He feels that, if she runs into trouble, it will be good for the reporters to be distracted by her breasts. He stammers as he explains this, but Fuka-Eri does not share his embarrassment. She seems a bit perplexed that her breasts could have an effect on anyone, but she agrees to do as he asks.
That night, Tengo dreams that he is a piece of a puzzle and cannot find where he fits because his shape keeps...
(The entire section is 458 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 17 Summary
For several nights, Aomame observes the two moons closely. It is alarming to witness such a huge change in the sky—far more alarming than noticing a couple of new stories in two-year-old newspapers. The change overhead makes no difference to everyday life, but it is still hard to handle. She begins talking to the moons when she is alone, asking them questions she should probably be asking herself:
Have you gone to bed with someone in your arms lately?...Do you have any friends?...Don’t you get tired of always playing it cool?
One evening Aomame has dinner with the dowager at Willow House. As the two of them share a simple meal, Aomame reflects on the day she first confessed to the dowager that she was a murderer. Aomame did not feel guilty for killing Tamaki’s husband, but she needed to share the burden of having taken a life. The dowager listened quietly and eventually told Aomame that it was right to kill such a man.
After Aomame told her story, the dowager told her own. She once had a daughter who, like Aomame’s friend Tamaki, married a violent man and eventually killed herself. When the autopsy showed evidence of many injuries, the daughter's husband claimed that the wounds resulted from sexual play which she engaged in willingly. Nobody really believed him, but nobody could prove his guilt either. Robbed of a legal solution, the dowager used her money and influence to cause him to lose his job and become socially ostracized. She is still enacting this punishment today.
Aomame still remembers how shocked she felt when the dowager first proposed her plan for serial murders of abusive husbands who could not be stopped through legal means. It seemed crazy—but it was the right thing to do. Somehow Aomame and the dowager had wandered into a world where the right choice was so scary it felt insane.
Back in the story’s present, the dowager comments over dinner that, unfortunately, the time has come to commit another murder. Speaking cryptically, she explains that the next target will be more dangerous than usual because he is surrounded by more security. This time, it is not an abusive husband, and the victim in question is not a grown woman. Rather, she is a ten-year-old girl.
After dinner, the dowager takes Aomame to the safe house and introduces her to the girl, Tsubasa. Over a dessert of...
(The entire section is 436 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 18 Summary
After Fuka-Eri holds her press conference, Komatsu calls Tengo in a jubilant mood to say that the girl did a “brilliant” job in front of the cameras. Tengo buys some newspapers and reads the report. He, too, is pleased. Fuka-Eri answered the questions well and refrained from lying.
Air Chrysalis is published in a literary magazine, which sells out in a single day. A hardcover book version soon follows. Tengo finds it difficult to feel happy about this. He spends most of his time worrying about the scandal that will surely result if anyone finds out about his involvement with the book.
A few days before the book version of Air Chrysalis is released, Tengo meets Fuka-Eri and Professor Ebisuno in a café. There the Professor admits that he is desperate to unearth information about Fuka-Eri’s parents—both for his own sake and for hers. His plan is to refuse to let reporters interview Fuka-Eri anymore. He hopes that, as they try to dig up information about her life, they will end up uncovering the story of Sakigake. After listening to all this, Tengo says that the Professor is using an innocent girl “to bait a big tiger out of the underbrush.”
Fuka-Eri has been silent through most of this conversation, but now she pipes up and says that everything comes back to the Little People. She does not explain further, so the two men fall to analyzing the idea of the Little People. Both assume that the Little People are the product of a traumatized child’s imagination. However, neither has any idea what the Little People are or whether they are good or bad.
At one point during this conversation, the Professor muses aloud about George Orwell’s novel 1984. That novel was written when 1984 still seemed like a distant future. It got everyone thinking about Big Brother, a totalitarian leader so powerful he could control people’s minds and souls. The story put people on the alert for such a figure, and as a result the future Orwell predicted could not happen. Now that it is actually 1984:
there’s no longer any place for a Big Brother in this real world of ours. Instead, these so-called Little People have come on the scene. Interesting verbal contrast, don’t you think?
After the Professor leaves, Tengo and Fuka-Eri chat for a while. She says that it is not safe for her to go back to...
(The entire section is 463 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 19 Summary
The dowager says that she does not know who the Little People are. What she does know is that ten-year-old Tsubasa has been raped repeatedly by an adult man. Her uterus is damaged so badly that she is unlikely ever to have children. It is difficult to say at this point whether she will ever want to be close to a man again.
The dowager says that, regardless of whether Tsubasa would have chosen to bear children in adulthood, it was nobody’s right to “rob” her of her ability to do so. The dowager has personally resolved to adopt Tsubasa and see the rapist punished.
As the conversation progresses, Aomame gradually gets an impression of Tsubasa's situation. Her parents belong to a cult which is led by a guru whose identity is hidden from the outside world. People call him Leader, and his followers do his bidding unquestioningly—even handing over their prepubescent daughters when he asks for them. This is likely to continue for years unless someone stops him. Unfortunately, he is heavily guarded. Even many members of the cult have never seen his face.
Aomame and the dowager agree that a man like Leader should not exist in the world. However, neither has any idea how to get rid of him. The dowager is confident that her money can somehow open up access for Aomame into the cult. Privately, however, Aomame reflects that not everything is for sale. The moon, for instance, cannot be bought at any price.
Aomame wonders whether anyone can ever recover from an ordeal such as repeated rape in childhood. Aomame, who fled home very young, knows something of childhood trauma. However, her “will” allowed her to survive. Sexual abuse might well have broken this will and prevented her from gaining control over her own life.
That night, the dowager falls asleep next to Tsubasa’s bed. While both are unconscious, a group of Little People climb out of Tsubasa’s mouth. At first they are the size of a pinky finger, but they do a little twisting motion that makes them grow to a height of about one foot. Their clothes and faces all look alike. They creep under the bed and take out a small white object “about the size of a Chinese pork bun.” They pull threads from the air and weave them into the object, slowly making it bigger. They all work together in perfect harmony for several hours. As they work, two moons shine in the sky.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 20 Summary
Tengo gives Fuka-Eri his bed and tries to sleep on the couch, but his worries keep him awake. His girlfriend will be furious if she finds out that Fuka-Eri slept in the apartment. Tengo's girlfriend always insists that he be faithful, even though she sometimes has sex with her husband. She says that sex between married people involves a different set of feelings that has nothing to do with their relationship. Tengo thinks this is ridiculous, but thus far he has never cheated. He does not have much interest in chasing women. He likes the stress-free nature of a relationship that makes no emotional demands on him.
Tengo decides to write instead of sleep, and he works in silence for several hours. Around two o’clock in the morning, Fuka-Eri wakes up and comes to sit by him. She asks him to read her a part of his novel to put her back to sleep. He refuses, explaining that he does not like anyone to read what he is writing until he has finished a draft.
Fuka-Eri does not seem offended by Tengo’s answer. He knows that she recited from The Tale of the Heike during her press conference, and he asks her to repeat the performance for him. She tells him to choose a passage. He picks one at random, and she recites a long section of the difficult text word for word. Her recitation is far more expressive than her normal, oddly flat speech. Tengo is astounded at her performance and at her ability to memorize so much text.
Next Fuka-Eri asks about George Orwell’s 1984. Tengo does not own a copy, but he explains that it was written in 1949, when the current year, 1984, seemed like the distant future. The novel describes a totalitarian society led by a dictator named Big Brother. The main character of the story is an ordinary man who works for the government, rewriting the words for history books. The government is always changing the stories of history, so nobody knows anymore what really happened in the past. Tengo explains that this is a terrible thing for a government to do:
Robbing people of their actual history is the same as robbing them of part of themselves. It’s a crime...If our collective memory is taken from us—is rewritten—we lose the ability to sustain our true selves.
Fuka-Eri still wants Tengo to read to her, so he reads from Chekhov’s Sakhalin, a book that documents the author’s...
(The entire section is 587 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 21 Summary
On another trip to the library, Aomame looks up the old newspaper stories about the commune shooting that caught her attention before. She notices that Akebono, the site of the Lake Motosu shootout, is relatively close to the site of Sakigake. She digs into the newspaper stories about the history of both communes and soon learns that Akebono is an offshoot of Sakigake. However, neither the police nor reporters found any reason to implicate the leaders of Sakigake in connection with the Akebono tragedy. According to the articles, Sakigake is a clean and orderly place full of people living happy but ascetic lives—hardly the sort of commune where one would expect to find members brainwashed into giving their children over to a serial rapist.
Aomame calls Ayumi to ask for help investigating Sakigake. Ayumi explains that ordinary police officers do not have computers. As such, she cannot easily access information unless she submits a request for printed documents. To do this, she would have to supply a reason for her request. Aomame does not want to state a reason, so she tells Ayumi to forget it.
A few days later, Ayumi calls back to say she has retrieved information as a favor from the uncle of a friend in a police precinct near Sakigake. The police in the vicinity of the compound know that Sakigake’s leadership is involved in shady land deals. The organization has bought up property around their village, in Tokyo, and in other major Japanese cities. To buy this land, they have often posed as disinterested companies or corporations. Fraud is suspected, but the police have not become involved because of the lack of evidence. However, known facts raise two major questions: Where is Sakigake getting its money? Why does an ascetic religious sect need property in large cities?
Ayumi’s source provided a separate piece of information as well, this one from the elementary school in the town adjacent to Sakigake. When the children from Sakigake are very young, they show up in school acting normal. As they get older, they gradually grow quiet, withdrawn, and unresponsive. Most drop out before they graduate from elementary school. The religious group claims to have a school of its own, but locals are worried about the children’s welfare.
After this phone call, Aomame reflects that Tsubasa’s behavior fits the description Ayumi heard about the other children of Sakigake....
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 22 Summary
Once again, Tengo returns to his normal routine of teaching, writing, and weekly sex with his girlfriend. His writing skills continue to improve, as do his skills at explaining mathematical processes. At the cram school, he delivers a series of captivating lectures. Perhaps as a result of this, several of his female students suddenly seem attracted to him. He notices this but feels totally uninterested in them. No other teenage girl can compare to Fuka-Eri.
Tengo tries to put Fuka-Eri out of his mind, but his thoughts often return to the night she slept at his house. Once while his girlfriend gives him fellatio, he thinks about the pajamas Fuka-Eri wore in his bed, and he experiences premature ejaculation. This is quite embarrassing, even though he does not reveal the reason for it.
For appearances’ sake, Tengo tries to avoid association with anyone who was involved in the publication of Air Chrysalis. When the book comes out, Komatsu mails Tengo two copies, and he shoves them to the back of a shelf without even bothering to flip through the pages. He keeps track of the newspaper reports about the book’s rise to the number one slot on the bestseller list, but he speaks to no one of his own involvement in the project.
This state of affairs continues until one night when Komatsu calls just as Tengo is about to fall asleep. Komatsu says that Air Chrysalis is selling well, but that Fuka-Eri has suddenly disappeared. A disappearance like this is unprecedented. The Professor fears for her and is considering calling the police.
For Komatsu, this situation is worrying because of its possible effect on the sales figures of Air Chrysalis. For Tengo, it is upsetting on a personal level. He wonders if Fuka-Eri has been kidnapped by Sakigake. After all, she repeatedly claimed that the Little People and their air chrysalises were both real. Tengo does not know what this means, but both terms may hold special significance to the cult. They may have decided to enact revenge. Or Fuka-Eri may simply have run away from the hype associated with the publication of her book.
For a couple of weeks after Komatsu's call, Tengo hears nothing more about Fuka-Eri. He tries to contact Professor Ebisuno, but the man's phone has been disconnected. Komatsu’s phone is working fine, but he never bothers to answer it, nor does he respond to any of the...
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 23 Summary
Aomame and Ayumi repeatedly team up for “all-night sex feasts.” The two of them go out together and troll bars for the right sort of men. When they find a likely pair, Ayumi approaches them and charms them with her cheerful friendliness. Then, at the right moment, Aomame joins the table and lends her standoffish but irresistibly sexy atmosphere to the proceedings. Eventually they all retire to a hotel room and have sex "like mad.”
One evening Aomame and Ayumi go out looking for such an adventure, but they find all the bars dead, devoid of men who suit their tastes. At ten-thirty, they give up, and Ayumi suggests buying a late dinner with some “extra” money she has in her purse. This offer seems strange to Aomame, who has often heard Ayumi complain about having the low pay she receives as a police officer. Embarrassed, Ayumi explains that one of the men from their last “sex feast” gave her some money as they all left. This shocks Aomame, who would never think of accepting money in exchange for sex. Ayumi shrugs it off and says that prostitution is a formal exchange involving upfront payment. The money she accepted was different because it was offered freely as “an expression of gratitude.”
The two women go to dinner, where they discuss some new information Ayumi has uncovered regarding Sakigake. The organization has no coherent philosophy, just a lot of vague ideas that sound religious. She thinks that this may be what attracts the many high-level professionals who eschew modern life in order to join, but her gut says that something is not right about the group. Unfortunately, no high-ranking member has ever left the group and revealed information about its inner workings.
As the conversation progresses, Ayumi admits that both her uncle and her brother abused her sexually when she was a child. At the time, she never told anyone. She suspects that her two abusers—both of whom are police officers like Ayumi—may no longer remember it. She says that when bad things happen, the people who inflict the violence
can always rationalize their actions and even forget what they did...But the surviving victims can never forget...Their memories are passed on from parent to child. That’s what the world is, after all: an endless battle of contrasting memories.
Ayumi admits that her childhood experiences have made...
(The entire section is 553 words.)
Section 1, Chapter 24 Summary
One rainy Thursday, Tengo finds a package in the mailbox with his name on it. From the handwriting, he knows right away that it comes from Fuka-Eri. He opens it and finds a cassette tape, which he immediately plays.
On the cassette is a verbal letter from Fuka-Eri. Her flat, expressionless speech sounds even stranger on tape than in real life. Her ideas have no organization that he can discern, and she does not seem to know about the pause button. On several occasions, she falls silent and thinks. These moments are recorded as silence with a bit of background noise.
In her letter, Fuka-Eri explains that she is in hiding in a safe place far away from home and that she feels a need to write to Tengo and reassure him that she is unharmed. The Professor apparently knows where she is but has reported her disappearance in hopes of obtaining information about her father. She explains that she does not want to be a novelist and that she feels strange about the fact that her story no longer belongs to her. She compares herself to the Gilyaks in the Chekhov book he read to her. She says that she, too, prefers to walk over rough ground even when roads are available.
Near the end of her letter, Fuka-Eri tells Tengo that the Little People “may be mad they were put into writing.” They have power and wisdom, and she is unsure what they will do in response to the publication of the book. She says:
To make sure the Little People don’t harm you, you have to find something the Little People don’t have. If you do that, you can get through the forest safely.
Tengo listens to this message a couple of times to make sure he does not miss anything. He is glad that Fuka-Eri is safe but generally perplexed by the rest of her message. She repeatedly mentions a forest, but he hears shouting children and honking cars in the background. He guesses that the forest she mentions is metaphysical, not literal. Above all, he worries about the suggestion that the Little People "may be mad." Even if he does not know what the Little People are, he doubts that making them angry is a particularly safe thing to do.
That evening, Komatsu calls Tengo to say that the Professor has reported Fuka-Eri’s disappearance to the police. Journalists will soon “start circling like sharks smelling blood.” If any of them gets wind of what happened...
(The entire section is 620 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 1 Summary
As Book Two of 1Q84 begins, Aomame is visiting Willow House. There she learns that Tsubasa has run away. It appears that the girl just walked out of the house in her pajamas in the middle of the night, perhaps because the horrible death of the dog frightened her. As the dowager explains this, she seems older and more tired than ever before. Both she and Aomame find it difficult to imagine making one’s way alone in Tokyo, wearing only pajamas, at the age of ten. However, they agree that Tsubasa has already proven herself to be more independent than the average child.
The conversation turns to Sakigake and Leader, the man responsible for hurting Tsubasa in the first place. The dowager has uncovered new information, and she now believes that Leader has raped a total of four girls. The first incident happened seven years ago, and the first victim was his own daughter. The dowager does not yet have all the information on this matter, but at this point the reader can make the connection that the first victim was Fuka-Eri. This means that Leader is her father.
Aomame and the dowager agree that Leader has to die. The dowager thinks she can get Aomame in to see Leader, but it will not be possible to take as many precautions as usual. Aomame may die in the assassination attempt. If she survives, she will have to change her identity, alter her appearance through plastic surgery, and start a new life elsewhere. Aomame says that she is ready to make these sacrifices. After all, she has no lover, no family, and no close friends. Inwardly, the thought of losing Ayumi gives Aomame a twinge—but she tells herself it is worth it. But the dowager, who sees Aomame as a sort of surrogate daughter, clearly struggles with the idea of losing her forever.
As Aomame leaves Willow House, she stops to talk to Tamaru. She asks him to get her a small pistol and one bullet. He is clearly annoyed at this request. Personal handguns are illegal in Japan, so he and his employer both face risks if he gets her one. He asks who Aomame plans to shoot, and she says herself. She explains that, if she gets caught during the upcoming job, it would be better to die than reveal what she knows. Tamaru reluctantly agrees to get her the weapon.
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 2 Summary
During his writing session one morning, Tengo listens to Janáček’s Sinfonietta, a piece he has remembered fondly ever since he played the percussion part of it in high school. After he finishes writing for the day, he buys breakfast and a newspaper. The paper contains an article about Fuka-Eri, a brief piece stating that she is missing. Tengo reflects that the news writers are hedging their bets. They do not want to ignore the story in case it turns big, but they do not want to make a big deal of it in case it turns out to be nothing.
At the cram school that day, Tengo has a strange visitor named Toshiharu Ushikawa. Ushikawa is an unusually ugly man. His whole head is misshapen, and his clothing is so unstylish that he appears to be “deliberately desecrating the very idea of clothes.” He presents Tengo with a business card that declares him to be the director of an organization called the New Japan Foundation for the Advancement of Scholarship and the Arts. Tengo has never heard of such an organization.
Ushikawa explains that his foundation seeks out young people and provides them a year’s funding to pursue their creative work. On the spot, he offers a sum of money sufficient to support Tengo modestly for a full year. Tengo instinctively mistrusts this offer. Fearing either a scam or a plot by Sakigake, he refuses to accept the grant.
At this, Ushikawa grows vaguely threatening. He says that Tengo was seen more than once in the company of the young author Fuka-Eri, who recently disappeared. He also says that it is a bad idea to go around “selling off one’s talents in dribs and drabs.” This strongly suggests that he knows about Tengo's work on Air Chrysalis.
As soon as Tengo can get away, he asks the cram school’s secretary to call the number on Ushikawa's card and ascertain whether there really is an organization called the New Japan Foundation for the Advancement of Scholarship and the Arts. She reports that the number does seem to belong to that organization, but Tengo still suspects that Ushikawa’s offer is an elaborate scam.
That afternoon, Tengo calls Komatsu and explains that someone knows he was involved with the Air Chrysalis rewrite. Komatsu says that people have been sniffing around his office as well. Neither has any idea what to do about the situation, so they agree to sit tight and wait to see...
(The entire section is 460 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 3 Summary
Aomame cannot get used to the fact that there are two moons in the sky. She stares at them every time they come out. Their presence makes her feel heavy, as if her period is coming. But she cannot bring herself to talk to anyone about what she sees in the sky.
On her next visit to the dowager, Aomame reports that her affairs are in order. She has rid herself of all extraneous possessions and packed an overnight bag containing the few things she cannot leave behind. The dowager promises to pay Aomame handsomely and to handle her physical effects after her disappearance.
Leader’s murder is tentatively planned. It turns out that he has some odd physical problems for which he often seeks remedies during his infrequent incognito trips to Tokyo. The dowager recently arranged for high-ranking members of Sakigake to learn that Aomame is excellent at deep tissue massage. This was not difficult because it is true. Leader wants to try her services, and his people will schedule a massage on his next visit to Tokyo. That means Aomame will be able to see him alone in a hotel room while his two bodyguards wait outside. The dowager notes that both bodyguards are highly trained, but neither has a professional background. She hopes this means they will hesitate if they are forced to attack a beautiful young woman.
After leaving the dowager, Aomame goes to Tamaru’s office, and he gives her a pistol. With it, he delivers a detailed lecture on gun safety. Then he shows her how to load it, unload it, set the safety, and empty the magazine. He makes her promise to drill herself on this process daily until she can perform the movements naturally even in the dark. However, he says not to bother with shooting practice. There is no easy way to practice shooting a gun in Tokyo, and besides, careful aim will not be necessary for the task Aomame has in mind.
Next, Tamaru asks Aomame how she plans to go about shooting herself. With a shaking hand, she points the gun at her temple. He tells her this is a bad idea; shooting oneself in the temple sometimes results in a cracked skull rather than death. He advises her to put the gun in her mouth and shoot through the palate. However, he says that the best plan is for her not to shoot herself at all. He tells two graphic stories of botched suicides in order to impress upon her the difficulty of killing oneself with a gun.
(The entire section is 657 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 4 Summary
Tengo thinks about Aomame, the girl who held his hand once in fifth grade. He hopes that she does not belong to the Society of Witnesses anymore. He never had the sense that she held any particular connection to the faith, and he doubts that she would be happy living under its strict rules.
Holding Aomame’s hand was a formative moment in Tengo’s life. The night after it happened, he experienced his first ejaculation in a dream. He did not yet know what ejaculation was, and the experience worried him. As time passed, he began to fantasize about being friends with Aomame. At ten, he had no concept of what they might do together except hold hands and share secrets, but he burned to know what secrets she would tell him. He would still like to share secrets with her now.
However, Tengo never spoke to Aomame after she held his hand that day. He did not know how to approach her, so he did nothing. When they happened to come near each other, she made no indication that she knew he existed. Eventually she left the school, and nobody knew where she had gone. Ever since, he has regretted his cowardice in failing to speak to her. He does not know if he would recognize her now on the streets, but he knows that he would like to find out what became of her.
Tengo does not think that Aomame would disappoint him. During that strange moment when she approached him and grabbed his hand in the elementary school classroom, she gave him the impression that she was a uniquely strong-willed person. He cannot imagine such a person growing up to live life weakly, just going through the motions.
Tengo cannot say the same for himself. He thinks that Aomame might be disappointed with him if she met him now. In school he was considered a math prodigy, but now he is just a cram school teacher. He is using few of his physical or intellectual gifts. He is living a quiet life, writing stories which have thus far gone unpublished. He is proud of his rewrite of Air Chrysalis, but he cannot take credit for that. His one spot of real hope is the long novel he is writing now.
The work on Air Chrysalis changed Tengo in a way, and now he feels more sure about many aspects of his life. He is certain, now, that if he recognized Aomame in the street he would stop her and speak to her. He is certain, now, that he has a good piece of writing in him. With this in mind, he eats...
(The entire section is 457 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 5 Summary
After learning of Ayumi’s death, Aomame cries for days. Looking back, she feels guilty that she held herself distant. It seemed necessary at the time, but acting otherwise might have saved Ayumi’s life. Ayumi went out man hunting alone, perhaps because she was unwilling to bother the aloof Aomame, and ended up getting strangled in a hotel room with the belt of a robe.
After a few days, Aomame’s grief subsides a bit. She comes to terms with the death and accepts that it was not her own fault. Ayumi had dangerous sexual habits, more dangerous even than Aomame’s, and always faced the risk that something like this would occur. It was probably an accident and not a murder—but either way, no legal or illegal action can undo it.
Five days after Ayumi’s death, Tamaru sends Aomame a message to let her know it is time for the murder. Aomame calls him from a pay phone, and he explains that she needs to go to a certain hotel this very evening. He instructs her to be prepared to be searched for weapons and to call him back at the same number after she completes the job. After a heavy pause, he adds:
I don’t mean to say that what you [and the dowager] are doing is useless, I really don’t. It’s your problem, not mine. But I do think that, at the very least, it’s reckless. And there’s no end to it.
Both Tamaru and Aomame know that this may be the last time they will speak to one another. Neither is eager to get off the phone, so he offers to tell her a story. When she agrees, he tells her about a cat who meets a frightened rat and claims to be a vegetarian. When the rat exults in its good luck, the cat pounces and kills it. With its last breath, the rat accuses the cat of lying. The cat denies this and says it plans to trade the rat’s body for lettuce. When Aomame asks Tamaru to explain the point of this story, he tells her to take it as she pleases.
After hanging up, Aomame reflects that this is probably the last time she will have to kill a man. She also thinks that she is glad to be getting rid of her life. She wants a “reset.” Her only sacred possessions are her body and her memory of Tengo.
Aomame spends the rest of the day at loose ends. She checks and re-checks her supplies for the murder. She stares at her nearly empty apartment. She listens to Janáček’s Sinfonietta and then...
(The entire section is 513 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 6 Summary
For a long time, Tengo hears no word from anyone about Air Chrysalis or Fuka-Eri. He sees references to her story on the covers of glossy magazines, but he does not have the money to buy them. He tells himself that, if the stories concerned him, Komatsu would have called by now. Tengo continues to worry more for Fuka-Eri’s sake than his own, but he knows of no way to find out about her whereabouts or about the Professor’s search for information about Sakigake.
One day, Tengo receives a letter from Komatsu along with a stack of reviews of Air Chrysalis. The letter says that the organization called New Japan Foundation for the Advancement of Scholarship and the Arts looks like a front for another organization, possibly Sakigake.
Tengo also worries about his girlfriend. She missed her normal weekly visit last Friday, but he cannot call her to ask why. By longstanding agreement, he never contacts her at home. Such an action would risk tipping off her husband to Tengo’s existence.
On Tuesday night, Tengo receives a phone call. The ringing gives him an ominous feeling, but he answers anyway. The man on the other end of the line calls himself Yasuda. It takes a moment for Tengo to connect that Yasuda is his girlfriend’s surname. Speaking clearly and without emotion, Mr. Yasuda says that his wife “will not be able to visit [Tengo’s] home anymore.” The man refuses to give any details but emphasizes that she is unable—not just unwilling—to keep visiting. She is “irretrievably lost” and cannot see Tengo “in any form.” Tengo feels quite terrified by this news. He demands details, but Mr. Yasuda hangs up.
After this unsettling call, Tengo sits awake, wondering what has happened to his girlfriend. He wonders if her husband hurt her, or if she was in some terrible accident. Such possibilities seem unlikely to Tengo, but he has no information to the contrary. He was always too polite to ask his girlfriend many questions about her husband, so he has no idea what kind of man Mr. Yasuda is.
Later in the evening, the phone rings again. This time the caller is Ushikawa, the director of the New Japan Foundation for Scholarship and the Arts. He says that the foundation needs Tengo’s final decision regarding the grant. Tengo replies that he already turned down the grant, and Ushikawa makes some creepy statements about how...
(The entire section is 561 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 7 Summary
Aomame goes early to the hotel where she is supposed to kill Leader. She is wearing light exercise clothes, and this makes her feel out of place among the posh hotel guests. As she waits in the lobby, she has a premonition that her attack will go wrong. Nevertheless, fleeing is out of the question. “That’s not the Aomame way to live,” she thinks to herself. Still, she cannot quell her panic, and so she closes her eyes and recites the prayer she was always forced to say as a child among the Society of Witnesses.
Leader’s two bodyguards, an older man with a buzzcut and a younger man with a ponytail, approach Aomame and introduce themselves. As they lead her upstairs to a hotel suite, she grows calm again. The guards pat her down and search her bag. She has hidden her gun in a small pouch full of tampons and underwear. The guards blush upon seeing these and refrain from searching further. Inwardly, Aomame reflects that it is unprofessional of them not to search the bag thoroughly or at least test its weight. However, their oversight certainly makes her life easier.
Before leading Aomame into Leader’s room, the guard with the buzzcut tells her that she will be well-paid for her work today, but that she must never reveal any details about Leader to anyone who asks. She pretends to be mildly offended at this request. She says that she is a professional workout consultant and masseuse, and that she does not talk about her clients’ bodies in public.
Next, the guard says that Leader’s room is “a sacred space.” This gives Aomame pause, and the guard explains, “In any religion, the sacred lies at the root of faith. We must never tread upon that world.” He does not expect Aomame to believe in his religion, but he trusts her to be respectful of Leader as “a being who is by no means ordinary.”
Aomame does not fully understand this, nor does the guard seem to expect her to. Apparently her reaction is respectful enough for his purposes, because he prepares to lead her into Leader’s room. Before he does so, he says that his religious organization has “long arms” and will definitely know if she reveals anything she sees tonight.
With that, the guard—whom Aomame thinks of as Buzzcut in her mind—opens the door and leads the way into Leader’s room. As Aomame enters, she again repeats the prayer she learned in childhood.
(The entire section is 425 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 8 Summary
For a week after receiving those two scary nighttime phone calls, Tengo speaks with almost no one. He feels more removed from his life than he ever has before. He does not know what is happening with Air Chrysalis. He does not know what has happened to his girlfriend. Overcome with worries, he stops writing. He spends his free time worrying and feeling annoyed that nobody is telling him anything.
One morning, Tengo abruptly decides to go see his father, who lives in a sanatorium for elderly people with dementia. Tengo, who has not seen his father for two years, does not know why he wants to go now. He simply buys a ticket to the rural town where the sanatorium is located and sets out.
During the journey, Tengo reads a story about a town of cats. It describes a young man who likes to spend vacations traveling haphazardly through the countryside. He boards a train and watches out the window until a place catches his fancy. Then he disembarks, checks into a hotel, and explores the area until it feels like time to move on. On one such journey, the young man gets out of a train in a town that appears deserted. When night falls, the place fills up with cats, and the young man realizes that they run the town. He hides and watches them avidly for several nights, sleeping away the days and ignoring the trains that stop at the station platform. On the third day, the cats complain that they smell a person nearby. They search him out, and he worries that they will hurt him. But when they find his hiding place, they simply say, “Strange…I smell a human, but there’s no one here.” This surprises the young man, who is sitting right in front of them. Shaken, he packs up and prepares to leave in the morning, but no train ever stops in the town again.
He knows that he is irretrievably lost. This is no town of cats, he finally realizes. It is the place where he is meant to be lost.
Eventually Tengo arrives at the home where his father lives. The old man looks shrunken and shows no sign that he recognizes Tengo. Tengo is forced to remind his father that he is his son. His father says simply, “I don’t have a son.” Tengo, who has long wondered if he might have been the product of an illicit affair, asks his father to explain. His father says simply, “You are nothing...You were nothing, you are nothing, and you will be nothing.”...
(The entire section is 720 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 9 Summary
Buzzcut leads Aomame into a dark room, where an enormous man is lying face-down, totally still, on a bed. The guard says, “It is time.” The big man does not respond. When the guard repeats himself, the big man sits up and performs what Aomame thinks must be a strange breathing exercise. Buzzcut repeats himself a third time. The breathing exercise ends, and Buzzcut leaves.
In the darkness, Aomame stands facing Leader. She is aware that he is looking at her and that he can somehow see in the darkness, although she cannot. She has the impression that he has the ability to see not only how she looks but who she is inside. This scrutiny makes her feel intensely uncomfortable.
Leader allows Aomame to open the curtain partway so that she can see, and then he thanks her for coming to see him. She says that it is her job. As she speaks, she inwardly compares her job as a personal trainer and masseuse to the job of a prostitute. She cannot shake the sensation that her work is somehow unclean.
Before Aomame begins the massage, Leader explains his physical problems. His retinas are damaged, and he is slowly losing his vision. Because of this, he can only stand to spend his time in darkness. Every now and again, his body tenses up and all of his muscles go rock-hard. During these periods, he feels absolutely nothing. He cannot move any part of his body except his eyes, but he is aware of what is happening around him. Whenever his muscles are not frozen, he experiences intense pain.
During this explanation, Aomame repeatedly says that stretching and massage are unlikely to help Leader. His problem is clearly medical in nature, and she is not a doctor. He asks her to try anyway. He is desperate for some measure of relief from his constant pain.
Going on with his explanations, Leader explains that his penis becomes hard during the periods in which his muscles freeze up. When this happens, his three teenage “shrine maidens” come to him and “join their bodies” to his, trying to become pregnant. However, pregnancy does not occur because the girls are not yet menstruating.
Leader says that his pain is the result of the “heavenly grace” he experiences as a religious leader, but it is too much to bear. His body is being destroyed, and he is facing a terrible death full of agony. When he is gone, “they” will just discard him. Aomame asks who...
(The entire section is 443 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 10 Summary
Tengo sits with his father into the evening. Before saying good-bye, Tengo thanks the old man for what he revealed. It may have been hard to understand, but at least it seemed honest. Tengo explains what he thinks: his father is not his biological father, and his mother left both of them when Tengo was a baby. Her absence left behind a “vacuum,” and Tengo’s father tried to lure her back by raising Tengo as a son. This story may be wrong, but that is okay as long as Tengo can use it to make sense of his own life. Before leaving, he promises to come back again soon. He is shocked to see a tear fall down his father’s cheek.
When Tengo awakes the next morning, he feels like a new person. His life situation is still just as lonely and confusing as ever, but he feels better about it. “I’ve finally made it to the starting line,” he thinks. He plunges back to his work on his novel, focusing on it to the exclusion of almost everything else. This is highly rewarding for him, and one day he privately wishes that his life could go on like this forever. Unfortunately, his life does the opposite of what he wants.
The next morning, Tengo receives a phone call from Fuka-Eri. She is at a pay phone at a grocery store down the street, and she wants to come to his apartment. He hesitates, saying that it is unsafe. She says that this is why she has come; she wants to “join forces.” A few minutes later, she arrives at his door with her arms full of groceries, and she announces that she wants to stay with him. When he protests again, she says, “There is no such thing as a safe place.” Tengo can find no argument, so he agrees to let her stay.
That day at the cram school, Tengo receives another visit from the creepy Ushikawa, who offers the grant money a third time and says that this is the last chance. Tengo begs for a clear explanation of this odd offer, and Ushikawa says:
The money is a pretext...The most important thing that my client can offer you is your personal safety. In other words, no harm will come to you. We guarantee it.
All that Tengo needs to give in return for this safety is his own promise never to reveal that he was involved with Air Chrysalis. Ushigawa’s employers believe that Tengo was a mere pawn in the production of the novel and that he need not suffer for it. Tengo asks if other...
(The entire section is 542 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 11 Summary
Aomame performs a deep tissue massage on Leader’s body. His muscles are all very strong, but their “flow” is “blocked.” Aomame places pressure on the joints to unblock the muscles and restore balance to Leader’s body. She knows that this process is extremely painful, and she is amazed at how much pain he endures without complaint. He has a higher pain tolerance than anyone she has ever met. By the end of an hour’s massage, both he and she are sweating, and she has developed a grudging respect for him.
Leader is impressed by Aomame, too. In the past he has sought the help of many doctors and therapists, and Aomame has given him more relief than any of them. When he asks about her techniques, she explains that she has studied muscles carefully and learned the “provable” and “observable” truths about them. Leader promptly shifts this conversation to a metaphorical level, saying:
Most people are not looking for provable truths...What people need is beautiful, comforting stories that make them feel as if their lives have some meaning.
He goes on to say that religion generally comes from the search for such stories. People who encounter two ideas generally believe the one that makes them feel more significant. Aomame says that love is enough for her.
Aomame always does jobs well. She has completed the work Leader hired her to do, and now she must do the job she discussed with the dowager. She tells Leader to lie down on his stomach, and she finds the right spot on his neck. In the process, she realizes that he knows what she is going to do and wants her to do it. He would prefer death over a continuation of his pain. This makes Aomame hesitate. After all, she came to this hotel to stop Leader from doing wrong, not to spare him pain.
Feeling Aomame’s hesitation, Leader begins to speak. He explains his role in his religion, which is to listen to the voice and tell his followers what it says. The problem is, he is not sure if the voice speaks the truth. In some ancient cultures, kings ruled for a time and then got killed at the ends of their reigns. He thinks that these kings were like him, able to hear the messages of the strange entities he calls the Little People. He is the only person who can hear the Little People, and as such, he possesses a strange and difficult power. He thinks that this power has...
(The entire section is 722 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 12 Summary
When Tengo arrives home, the sky is still free of clouds. He stops to check his mail and finds a notice of his first royalty payment for Air Chrysalis. The amount he has received, 1.6 million yen, represents more than he has ever received at once in his life. He does not really need the money, but he cannot help thinking that it is not enough, given the problems that have entered his life because of his work on the book. On reflection, he wonders if accepting the money will compound his problems. He resolves to think seriously about returning the money.
Inside, Tengo and Fuka-Eri discuss the disappearance of his girlfriend. Tengo repeats the words he heard from her husband, who said that she is “irretrievably lost.” Fuka-Eri asks if Tengo and his girlfriend were “having intercourse.” When Tengo answers in the affirmative, Fuka-Eri asks if he liked it and if he misses it. He answers yes to both questions, and she appears perplexed.
After dinner, thunder starts. Tengo notes without too much surprise that Fuka-Eri was right about the storm. It was not in the forecast, but she is often right when she predicts odd events. She says that the weather has something to do with the Little People, although she is not sure what. Growing tired, she borrows Tengo’s pajamas and gets into his bed. Tengo presses her for more information on the Little People, but all of her answers are extremely vague. In desperation, he asks her to explain which aspects of Air Chrysalis are real. “What does ‘real’ mean,” Fuka-Eri asks, in her peculiar flat speech that never contains the inflection of questions.
Fuka-Eri asks for a bedtime story, so Tengo tells her about the town of cats. He left the book with his father, so he cannot read the story to her. Instead he tells it from memory, adding and deleting parts as he sees fit. She interrupts with many questions, and he responds by inventing details to satisfy her curiosity.
When Tengo finishes telling the story, Fuka-Eri asks him if he went to a town of cats and came home on a train. He intuits that she is referring to his trip to visit his father, so he says yes. She she says that “bad stuff can happen” if a person undertakes such a journey and does not perform a “purification” afterward. He has no idea what she means. Rather than explaining, she tells him to get into the bed and hold her.
(The entire section is 421 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 13 Summary
Aomame is staggered by the discovery that Leader knows both the name of the man she loves and the name 1Q84, her private nickname for the strange new world where she now lives. She asks how she came to be in 1Q84 instead of “the real 1984.” He laughs at this question and tells her that the world she is in now is the real world. It just “switched tracks” at some point. Most people are not aware that this has happened at all. Those few who are aware of it can see two moons in the sky.
After thinking this over, Aomame asks who caused this change to happen in the world. Leader cannot answer this question with any certainty, but he knows that Aomame was “carried” here along with others who oppose the Little People. Good and evil have to be kept in balance. The Little People have increased their power through Leader. This means that a force opposing the Little People, a force that includes Aomame, has grown more powerful as well.
Leader explains that he is being used as an “agent” of the Little People. His daughter rejected the Little People years ago and became a sort of “agent” for the opposing side. Here Aomame interrupts him to ask if this was why he had to rape his daughter, and he says that it was not rape. He and his daughter had to “become one—as Perceiver and Receiver.” He claims that this was not harmful to her. Aomame argues that the same process harmed Tsubasa, but Leader denies this. According to him, the Tsubasa whom Aomame met was not “actual substance,” so she could not be harmed in the way Aomame means. Aomame refuses to believe him.
Continuing his cryptic explanation, Leader explains that his daughter left Sakigake and eventually met Tengo who, like Leader, is a natural Receiver. Now Tengo and Fuka-Eri are working together to combat the Little People through the story Air Chrysalis. This story spreads awareness of the Little People in a way that is harmful to them. Right now they would do anything within their power to stop it.
However, the Little People do not hold grudges. If Leader dies, they will immediately focus all their energy on finding someone else who can hear the voice. At that point, Tengo and Fuka-Eri will be safe because they will no longer matter within the Little People's battle for power.
Leader says that Tengo loves Aomame as much as she loves him. At first she refuses to...
(The entire section is 691 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 14 Summary
Fuka-Eri tells Tengo that they have to “go to the town of cats together” and that he has to change into pajamas and get into bed with her. He tries to get her to explain what she has in mind, but she just repeats her instructions in her odd, flat voice and waits for him to obey. He gets into bed and puts his arms around her. Then the two of them sit in silence, listening to the storm.
As they sit like this, Tengo’s thoughts churn. He hopes that he will not get an erection. He thinks it would be hard to explain to a seventeen-year-old girl that a man’s penis just does that sometimes. As if she can hear his thoughts, Fuka-Eri says, “I don’t mind if it gets hard.”
Tengo has no particular sexual desire for Fuka-Eri, but his penis gets hard anyway. Outside, thunder rages. Fuka-Eri says that they must both go to sleep in order to do the purification. Tengo thinks that it will be impossible to sleep now. It is early, and the storm is loud. However, the next thing he knows, he is drifting off.
When Tengo awakes, he and Fuka-Eri are both naked. Her vagina is hairless and white like a little girl's. His penis is erect, and his body is immobile. When he complains that he cannot move, Fuka-Eri tells him that this does not matter. Assuring him that everything is fine, she lowers her body onto his penis. He has no physical sensation as this happens, and he does not get the impression that Fuka-Eri does either.
Fuka-Eri tells Tengo to shut his eyes. When he obeys, he finds himself in his fifth-grade classroom holding Aomame's hand. Tengo remembers the scene in vivid detail. He is amazed by Aomame's apparent strength and resolve. He thinks that she knows far more than he does. She leaves the room, and Tengo ejaculates.
Briefly, Tengo worries that he will get in trouble for ejaculating in the middle of his fifth-grade classroom. Then he opens his eyes and realizes that he has just had an orgasm inside Fuka-Eri. She tells him it is okay; she will not get pregnant because she has not started her periods yet. She sits on top of him, apparently giving her body time to absorb his semen. Then she says, “This was necessary.” She climbs out of bed and goes to the bathroom to shower.
Still paralyzed, Tengo thinks about that day with Aomame in elementary school. He thinks about how important she has remained to him over the years. For the first time,...
(The entire section is 536 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 15 Summary
After killing Leader, Aomame sticks her gun in the waistband of her pants. She steps out to the sitting room, where the two bodyguards are waiting. She tells them that Leader is asleep. Buzzcut looks into the room suspiciously. Aomame says that Leader should not be disturbed for at least two hours because his muscles need time to recover from the massage.
Aomame steps into the powder room to change out of her workout clothes. She wishes she could just leave instead, but she knows she might arouse suspicions if she does not follow a normal routine. After changing, she studies herself in the mirror. She looks like “the usual cool Aomame.” She orders herself to keep this air of calm.
After leaving the powder room, Aomame accepts payment for her work on Leader. The lower-ranked guard, whom Aomame thinks of as Ponytail, sees her to the door. As she steps out of the room, she sees his arm twitch. She has a brief fear that he is going to reach out and grab her. She guesses that he senses something wrong but he is suppressing his instincts. As she makes her way to the elevator and out of the hotel, she thinks that a professional bodyguard like Tamaru would have trusted himself more.
Aomame catches a taxi and asks the driver to take her to Shinjuku Station. He tells her that a sudden thunderstorm has just struck a small section of the city. A nearby station flooded, and now a whole subway line is stopped. The crowds will be terrible. Aomame reflects that if Leader is to be believed, then it is possible that the Little People caused the thunderstorm to slow her getaway.
As predicted, the crowds in Shinjuku Station are terrible. Aomame retrieves her luggage and money from a locker where she stowed it earlier. She goes to a nearby café and calls Tamaru from a pay phone. When he answers, she explains that the subway is closed. He tells her not to worry; she will be taking a cab to a safe house the dowager has set up in Tokyo’s Koenji district—a part of town unfamiliar to Aomame. Her job is to wait there in hiding for several days. Then her face and identity will be changed, and she will be smuggled to a more permanent home far away.
Aomame follows Tamaru’s instructions to get to the safe house, which turns out to be a small, clean apartment overlooking a little playground. It is fully stocked with brand-new furniture and supplies. There is plenty of food...
(The entire section is 580 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 16 Summary
In the morning, Tengo gets out of bed early. In his mind, he grapples with his memories of what happened last night. He finds it hard to believe that his strange sexual encounter with Fuka-Eri was real, and yet he knows that it must have been. He wonders whether he has now entered a new world.
When Fuka-Eri gets up, Tengo says that he wants to schedule a meeting between her, himself, and Komatsu. She asks why, and he explains that he wants to give back the money he has thus far received for Air Chrysalis. She doubts that this will make a difference and says, somewhat ominously, that they may not be able to meet with Komatsu anyway. However, she agrees that she will go to a meeting if Tengo can schedule one.
In the afternoon, Tengo calls Komatsu’s office, but he is not in. Apparently he has been out all week. He only called in once, three days ago, to say he was sick. Since then, nobody has heard from him. Komatsu’s co-workers find this state of affairs highly annoying. Apparently Komatsu has been managing the sales of Air Chrysalis entirely on his own, and in his absence, nobody else knows what to do.
After Tengo hangs up, he decides to keep his promise to himself to look for Aomame. He goes out to the phone company headquarters for his neighborhood, the Koenji district, and looks through all the phone books. None contains the name "Aomame." He tries calling his old elementary school, but the secretary does not have Aomame's current address. The school does have a relative’s phone number from when she was in fifth grade, but that number turns out to be disconnected. Tengo tries a few other ideas, but each one fails to turn up clues.
Frustrated, Tengo returns home. He finds Fuka-Eri in his living room listening to jazz records. They chat for a while, and he tries to bring the conversation around to last night. Fuka-Eri seems totally uninterested in this topic. When Tengo suggests seeing a doctor about the fact that she has never had a period, she says only, “It wouldn’t do any good.”
Tengo confesses that he wants to find a certain woman, and he reveals a few details about Aomame. Fuka-Eri asks if he has been looking for her since elementary school, and he admits that he just started looking today. She does not ask why he waited, but he explains anyway:
I’ve probably been taking a long detour....
(The entire section is 528 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 17 Summary
Alone in the sterile apartment in the Koenji district, Aomame struggles with her feelings about the murder she has just committed. All of her murders have been difficult, but the other men she killed inspired no feelings in her. Leader was different. He was “an extraordinary human being.” Because of this, the emotional effects of killing him also feel extraordinary.
In the morning, Tamaru calls and says that the Sakigake people appear to have decided to keep Leader’s death a secret. However, they will certainly want to speak to Aomame about it. When they find that she has disappeared, they will conclude that the death was no accident. They will surely try to find her and take revenge.
The dowager gets on the phone next. She thanks Aomame profusely and apologizes for putting such a burden on her. Aomame says that she will never murder anyone again. She explains that Leader “possessed something special.” She also confesses that he was suffering and wanted to be killed in order to eliminate his constant pain. However, she does not reveal the part about bargaining with Leader to save Tengo’s life.
After bidding good-bye to the dowager, Aomame talks to Tamaru again. He tells her a story about his childhood. He was born on the island of Sakhalin—the island that was the focus of the Chekhov book mentioned earlier in the novel—and grew up in an orphanage in the mountains of Hokkaido. He had a sort of friend there who was good at nothing except carving rats out of wood. Most of the orphans picked on this boy, and somehow Tamaru got the job of defending him. Tamaru stuck with this job for years—often fighting losing battles because of it. He concludes by telling Aomame that he will do everything he can to protect her, even if it means getting hurt or killed himself. “Win or lose, I won’t abandon you,” he says.
After hanging up the phone, Aomame eats breakfast and does her morning exercise routine. As she works her body, her mind reflects on the oddness of her life. She is a murderer, and because of it Tamaru has essentially adopted her as a member of his family. Meanwhile, she and her true love are working their way closer to each other through a convoluted story that is likely to end with at least one of them dead. The good and the bad always get mixed together.
After finishing her stretching, Aomame drifts around the apartment looking...
(The entire section is 492 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 18 Summary
Fuka-Eri tells Tengo that Aomame is in a place he can walk to, but that she is “hiding...like a wounded cat.” After a moment, Fuka-Eri adds that Tengo should look for Aomame by examining his memories. This may give him a clue that could lead him to the right place.
Tengo thinks about this advice throughout the afternoon. After dinner, he goes out walking alone. He sits down in a bar and sips a drink, wondering why his one vivid encounter with Aomame has made such a deep impression on his life. He realizes that he has always led a lonely life. On that day when she held his hand in elementary school, she convinced him that he was not alone.
Next, Tengo tries to guess why Aomame might be hiding. He doubts that she is a criminal, so he thinks she is unlikely to be hiding from police. Fuka-Eri is the person who delivered the information, so it is possible that Aomame is hiding from the Little People. He wonders if she is hiding from them for some reason involved with him. That seems unlikely, so he moves on to new ideas.
After Tengo orders another drink, he follows Fuka-Eri’s advice. He concentrates on the memory of his childhood encounter with Aomame, and he looks for new information. He normally thinks only about what she looked like that day, but now he tries to remember what else they could see. He thinks about the appearance of the classroom, reviewing all of the ordinary objects inside it. When he gets to the window, he stops. He remembers, for the first time, that a three-quarter moon was hanging low in the sky while he and Aomame held hands.
Suddenly feeling the urge to see the moon, Tengo goes outside. It is a clear night, but the buildings of Koenji block his view of the sky. He walks for quite a while, looking for a clear spot, and suddenly he remembers a small playground. He goes there and climbs up on top of the slide.
Tengo looks up and sees a three-quarter moon. It pleases him that the moon’s phase is the same as it was when he looked at it with Aomame twenty years ago. Several moments pass before he sees a second moon, a smaller greenish one, in the sky with the moon he expected to see. He tries for a moment to convince himself that it is not there. But it is. The moon, which has long represented solitude in his mind, is “no longer alone.”
(The entire section is 431 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 19 Summary
Alone in the sterile apartment, Aomame reads Air Chrysalis carefully. From the beginning, she can tell that the person who crafted this story—Tengo Kawana, if Leader is to be believed—has excellent control of language and emotion. It is a simple story told from the perspective of a little girl who describes what happens without stopping to analyze what it all means. Readers simply go along with her until suddenly, the girl’s world is “not this world,” but rather a fantastical place filled with Little People and air chrysalises.
Air Chrysalis takes place in a commune called the Gathering. The adults of the commune have left the outside world, and they often speak of modern life using strange words the girl does not understand. These words are rendered in phonetic text: “cap-i-tal-izum” for “capitalism,” for example.
The girl is the eldest of the few children at the commune, and thus she is a leader among them. She has little free time, and she has many duties. One week she is entrusted with the care of an old, blind goat. She gets distracted and forgets about it, and it dies. As punishment, the girl is locked up for ten days in an old building with the goat’s corpse.
One night during this confinement, the goat’s mouth opens, and six Little People come out. They explain that the goat’s mouth is a portal that allows them to come out of their world and into this one. They have plain clothing and features, but they have remarkable powers. They can read the girl’s mind. When she thinks that they are a bit like the seven dwarves, the Little People cheerfully transform themselves from six into seven.
The Little People teach the girl to make an air chrysalis. They do this by plucking white threads out of the air and weaving them together. The girl helps them, and every night they come back and work on the chrysalis more. When the term of punishment is over, the girl is almost sorry. She wants to see what will come out of the chrysalis when it is finished.
The Little People warn the girl not to tell anyone about them, and she obeys. A few days pass, and then one night they wake her up and tell her to come with them. The chrysalis is opening, and she needs to come and see. Bursting with curiosity, the girl follows them. When the chrysalis opens, she sees her own sleeping face. The Little People explain that it...
(The entire section is 777 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 20 Summary
Tengo stares up at the sky for a long time, trying to convince himself that the new moon is just an optical illusion. But it is there. It is real, and he cannot change it. This terrifies him, largely because it looks exactly like the moon he described when he wrote Air Chrysalis. Fuka-Eri did not describe the second moon in her original text. Komatsu made Tengo elaborate on that aspect in the final version. The visual language Tengo used in his description was invented in his imagination—but the extra moon hanging above his head right now matches it exactly. It is smaller than the original moon, slightly wrinkled and greenish. “This can’t be,” he thinks. “What kind of world mimics fictional creations?”
Tengo wonders if he entered a different world when he rewrote Air Chrysalis. He thinks he may have done exactly that, but that guess only leads to more questions. He does not know whether the original world ceased to exist or became a whole new world. He also wonders if the Little People have anything to do with what he is seeing.
Tengo wants some answers, but there are none. He is alone in a park. There is nobody on the streets. And if there were somebody nearby, he would not know what to ask. The world—with the exception of those two moons—looks ordinary, not at all like the sort of place where it is acceptable to accost strangers and ask insane questions about the number of moons overhead.
For a moment, Tengo sinks into denial. It is possible that the number of moons somehow changed without his noticing. After all, he lives in the big city and rarely looks up. He talks to few people and frequently ignores the news for weeks or months at a time. The number of moons really could change overhead, and he might miss it completely.
Tengo feels somewhat dizzy for a moment as “an inscrutable new world silently surround[s] him like lapping water.” He realizes that it actually makes little difference, at this point, if the world has changed. His personal circumstances have not altered. There is no reason to be upset.
Nevertheless, Tengo knows he will never find it normal to see two moons in the sky. He wonders what the future will be like. He wonders where Aomame is, and whether she can see two moons as he can. To this latter question, he has an answer: yes. He does not know why, but he feels sure that she...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 21 Summary
That night, Aomame stands on the balcony of the sterile apartment, wondering what happened to the rubber plant she left behind at home. She does not know why she is so worried about this, but she is. She bought the plant a couple of months ago. At the time, she went to a pet store to buy goldfish, and then she decided she did not like the idea of paying money for a captive, living animal. She grabbed the rubber plant instead and bought it at a discount. It was unhealthy and rather ugly, but it was the only living thing Aomame ever owned. In her mind, it becomes a symbol for what she has lost. As she thinks about it, she starts to cry.
In this frame of mind, Aomame looks down at the playground below her balcony and sees a man sitting on top of the slide, looking up at the sky. She has an intuitive sense that, like her, he can see two moons. She gets out a pair of binoculars and focuses them on the man’s face. She recognizes him as Tengo.
For a moment, Aomame cannot believe that Tengo, the long-term object of her silent love, could be sitting below her tonight, of all nights. But she studies his face, and soon she has no more doubt. He looks much like he did as a child, and his appearance in this place is intuitively fitting after all that has happened. “What should I do?” she thinks.
Aomame feels “split down the middle.” Half of her wants to run to Tengo right now and be with him. She could hold him and talk to him and hear about his life. She could bring him into her apartment and have sex with him just once before she dies. But the other half of her warns caution. Leader offered her a choice, and she accepted it. Now she is likely to be hunted down and killed. She chose this outcome willingly in order to keep Tengo alive. What is the point of seeing him now? What if he does not really love her? And if he does, will she regret her choice to die?
Eventually Aomame’s hunger for companionship wins. She slips into the bathroom to wipe the tears off her face, and then she runs outside to the playground. When she arrives, Tengo is gone. She looks all around, but he is nowhere. She climbs up the slide and sits where he sat, trying to absorb some part of him, even the heat he left behind. But there is nothing. This is the price of hesitation.
After sitting on the slide for some time, Aomame decides that this outcome is best for herself and...
(The entire section is 506 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 22 Summary
When Tengo arrives home, Fuka-Eri says that she took a call from the sanatorium where his father lives. He calls back and speaks with a doctor, who says that Tengo’s father is in a coma. There are no obvious symptoms of disease, but the old man’s “natural life-sustaining force is visibly weakening.” Tengo asks how long his father will last, and the doctor says that, in the worst case, all may be over in a week.
After hanging up the phone, Tengo explains to Fuka-Eri that he has to “go to the town of cats” again. They both know that he is referring to his father’s sanatorium and not to the purification ritual they performed last night. Tengo still does not understand exactly what happened last night or why. To him, the experience already seems “almost a historical event,” even though it only happened twenty-four hours ago.
Tengo tells Fuka-Eri that he noticed a second moon in the sky tonight. He asks her whether the two of them “have entered the world depicted in Air Chrysalis.” Fuka-Eri says that Tengo is a Receiver, and she is a Perceiver. They have been paired this way since they “wrote the book together.” He claims that he only cleaned up her text, but she says he did more than that. In vague terms, she suggests that he became a Receiver before he began working on the book, but she refuses to say whether this is why she let him collaborate with her. Tengo tries to fit Fuka-Eri’s statements together with the memories in his head, but he cannot figure out when the world changed tracks:
Cause and effect see to be all mixed up...I don’t know which came before and which after.
Fuka-Eri asks about Aomame, and Tengo explains that he did not find her. Fuka-Eri tells him not to worry because Aomame will find him. “Somewhere in this world,” Tengo says, referring to the changed world with the two moons where the two of them are living now. Fuka-Eri agrees, noting that he can count on meeting Aomame “as long as there are two moons in the sky.” Tengo says that he will just have to believe her because he does not know anything else to do.
This last statement makes Fuka-Eri look thoughtful. She reminds him that she is a Perceiver and he a Receiver. However, all is not the same as when he did the rewrite of Air Chrysalis. Something about Tengo has changed since then. When...
(The entire section is 439 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 23 Summary
Early in the morning, Aomame puts on the exact same business suit and shoes she wore on the occasion of her entry into 1Q84. She thinks about Tengo’s appearance last night and realizes that his presence “stirred” her whole being, “the way a spoon stirs a cup of cocoa.”
Aomame goes outside and finds a taxi. She gets in and instructs the driver to get on the Metropolitan Expressway Number 3 at the Yohga exit and then drive toward the Ikejiri exit. The driver protests that it would be much faster to go straight to the Ikejiri area on surface streets, especially in the traffic at this time of day. Aomame hands him ten thousand yen, a sum far larger than a normal taxi fare, and tells him that she has plenty of time and wants him to drive to the exact route she just described. He does not seem to like this, but he does as she asks.
As the driver predicted, traffic is terrible. Aomame watches until they reach the location of the emergency stairwell, which she recognizes partly by the presence of a large billboard with a tiger on it. She tells the driver to let her out. He refuses, saying he will get in trouble. She offers him another ten thousand yen and apologizes for giving him trouble. Eventually he gives up. Aomame gets out, gives him the money, and advises him to tell his employers that she threatened him with a pistol.
Just as she did once before, Aomame weaves her way among the stopped cars on the expressway. She is aware of people watching her, and she does not care. She walks confidently, athletically, knowing that she looks great in her suit. She marches straight up to the barrier where she stepped onto the emergency stairwell before—but it is not there.
For Aomame, this is largely an act of curiosity, to see if she can find her way out of 1Q84. She is the kind of person who has to know the limits of her own existence, and she dislikes the idea that she might “die ignorant, failing to grasp how things worked.” When she sees that the stairwell is gone, she looks around, making sure that she is indeed in the right place. She is. She has no way back to the old world.
Aomame looks up at the sky. It is daytime, and the moon is not out. She looks around at the people in the cars, all of whom are watching her. One of them, a middle-aged lady in a nice Mercedes, looks concerned. Aomame pulls out her gun, and nobody looks surprised. Inwardly...
(The entire section is 569 words.)
Section 2, Chapter 24 Summary
Tengo goes to visit his father. Upon arrival, he is told that the old man’s desire to recover might improve if he hears his son’s voice. Tengo thinks his father looks like he has already decided to die. Tengo is not sure if he has the right to try to change this, but he feels that it is a “courtesy” to try speaking.
Since Tengo went to high school, he has rarely spoken to his father. Now Tengo decides to talk about his life. He explains how he chose his high school because the judo scholarship he received there allowed for a full scholarship and three meals per day. From the time he entered the school, he was busy all the time supporting himself. He did well in school and in judo, but they felt like “a job.”
After high school, Tengo went on to college and studied math. Like judo, math turned out to be relatively unimportant to Tengo. He soon realized that he did not want to pursue a high-flying academic life. Around age twenty, he realized that women were attracted to him and began having sexual relationships. Here, too, he made few emotional connections. It was simply impossible for him to love anyone.
After college, Tengo began to lead a happier life. He enjoyed being free, working at the cram school, and making his own decisions. Eventually he began writing fiction and found that he had a fair amount of talent. His work attracted the attention of an editor, Komatsu, who eventually convinced Tengo to rewrite a novella, Air Chrysalis, which has done very well. Now Tengo is writing a novel on his own, and he thinks that he will succeed.
Tengo thinks of Aomame and decides to tell his father about her, too. He explains how he has always thought of her but never pursued her. Similarly, he always thought of his mother but never went to the records department to find out if she had really died. Saying this out loud now, Tengo realizes that he has always been too afraid to take action to make important events happen for himself.
Tengo says honestly that, as a child, he always resented his father for failing to act like other fathers. Now Tengo no longer feels angry. He says, “I’m the one who ruined me.” All his life, he felt entitled to all that he had and more. People praised him for his skills in math and judo, and he thought he deserved it. But then he grew up and found out that there were other people out there who were more...
(The entire section is 778 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 1 Summary
As Book Three of 1Q84 begins, Ushikawa sits in his office talking with Buzzcut and Ponytail, the two bodyguards who were responsible for protecting Leader before he died. Ponytail leans silently against the door as Buzzcut asks Ushikawa for information about the woman named Aomame. This request is vaguely threatening, and Ushikawa thinks that the two guards must be under great pressure to find answers. Leader was killed on their watch, so they are probably quite scared that Sakigake’s lust for revenge will fall on them. Ushikawa was responsible for investigating Aomame's background before she met Leader, so he is at least as scared as they are.
Ushikawa summarizes the situation, saying that Leader died while Aomame gave him a massage, but that no obvious marks were left on the body. Aomame’s subsequent disappearance makes it seem likely that she murdered him. Sakigake’s doctors were not able to confirm foul play on their own, but the cult nevertheless refrained from consulting the police or outside doctors.
Going on with his summary, Ushikawa explains that Aomame has been estranged from her family since the age of eleven. She lived with an uncle for a few years but took responsibility for herself from the time she entered high school. Neither her family nor the Society of Witnesses, the religious group to which they belong, appears to have had anything to do with Aomame after age eleven. It is extremely unlikely that they helped with the murder.
Ushikawa recently examined Aomame’s phone records. The notable details include a few long calls from an untraceable number. Ushikawa explains that he has the skills to trace the owners of most such numbers, but not this one. This makes him suspect strongly that Aomame is connected to an organization that helped her plan the murder and disappear afterward. Indeed, it would be highly unusual for anyone to create such a flawless plan alone.
Next, Ushikawa questions the two guards, who admit that only a few select members of Sakigake know about Leader’s death. Ushikawa advises them to make the truth public as soon as possible, but Buzzcut indicates that they have been instructed to keep silent. As an outsider, Ushikawa has no power to change this. Even the guards are too low-ranked to do anything.
Ushikawa asks about the Little People. Buzzcut claims that he does not know who they are—but his...
(The entire section is 533 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 2 Summary
Every night, Aomame sits on the balcony of her apartment watching the playground below, hoping that Tengo will return and look up at the moon again. This has been her routine for weeks, ever since the day she nearly committed suicide on the Metropolitan Expressway Number 3. She put the barrel of her revolver in her mouth, thinking that she might as well end her life since she was doomed to die anyway. However, just as she began to pull the trigger, she heard a voice calling to her from far away. It seemed to be saying her name, and it gave her a feeling of warmth and hope. She took the gun out of her mouth, put on the safety, and went back to her taxi to catch a ride back to the city. She still believes that she is going to die as a result of her bargain with Leader—but first she wants to live through whatever happens next.
When Tamaru called Aomame the day after she almost committed suicide, she said that she wanted to stay put in the little apartment. He seemed inclined to say no. The apartment was never meant to become a long-term hideout. When she insisted, he promised to discuss it with the dowager. Later he called back and granted permission for Aomame to stay until the end of the year. He made her promise never to leave home for any reason. They discussed her needs and made a plan for weekly resupply trips. Shortly after this conversation, two people came to the apartment to bring supplies. As previously agreed with Tamaru, Aomame did not speak to them. She hid in a back room while the strangers unloaded groceries, emptied her garbage, and delivered items such as exercise equipment, clothing, and reading material.
Tamaru is clearly worried about Aomame living in total isolation. During a phone call, he tells her that nobody—not even a mentally strong person like Aomame—can withstand the strain of this type of existence forever. He feels that people’s nerves get tested by loneliness, and many people are never the same again after a long period of solitude. Aomame promises that she will be careful, but she also says that she thinks she will be okay. “I’m all alone, but I’m not lonely,” she explains.
Now Aomame’s days follow a regular pattern. Every day she works out with a stationary bike and weights, and she performs her usual stretching routine. She reads from Proust’s seven-volume novel In Search of Lost Time, which Tamaru claims nobody...
(The entire section is 477 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 3 Summary
Tengo is staying in the small town of Chikura, the place he thinks of as “the cat town,” where his father’s sanatorium is located. He has arranged to take two weeks off from work so that he can make daily visits to his father, partly for his father’s sake and partly because he hopes to see the air chrysalis again. Fuka-Eri is back in Tengo's apartment in Tokyo, where he left her with two weeks’ worth of food and instructions not to open the front door to any visitor.
Chikura is a sleepy little town, and Tengo rather enjoys the quiet routine he has developed there. He spends his nights in a little inn by the ocean. Every morning he gets up and takes a long walk, returning home for breakfast and a two-hour writing session in his room. In the late morning, he goes out for coffee and a paper. In the afternoons, he takes a bus to his father’s sanatorium, where he chats with the nurses and then sees his father. Tengo always tells his father about everything that has happened in the past day—usually very little—and reads aloud from books. When darkness falls, two orderlies come in to take his father away for testing. Tengo goes out to get tea, calls Fuka-Eri to check in, and then returns to his father’s empty room, always hoping to see the air chrysalis again. Thus far, it has not reappeared.
One evening, when Tengo calls Fuka-Eri, she tells him that an NHK collector came to the door. She tells Tengo that she did not understand what the man wanted. He sighs, thinking that there is a great deal about ordinary life that she does not know. Because of her secluded childhood within the Sakigake compound, she did not have a TV when she was growing up. This means that she does not know that the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation collects fees from everyone who uses their services.
Tengo reassures Fuka-Eri that he does not own a TV and thus does not owe NHK fees. He tells her that it is all right and that the man is unlikely to return. She makes a couple of odd comments about the encounter, saying that the man called Tengo “a thief.” After a pause, she adds, “That person knew a lot about you.” Tengo assures her that everything is fine and hangs up the phone. Afterward, alone in his father’s room at dusk, he wonders if the visitor was really an NHK collector. He wonders, too, whether he will ever see the air chrysalis again. Answers to such questions never come to...
(The entire section is 448 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 4 Summary
It is hard to believe that an old, wealthy widow would plot a murder, but Ushikawa investigates the theory thoroughly. He does so partly because he has no other leads and partly because he has a strong gut feeling. Over the years, he has learned to trust such feelings, even if they seem implausible on the surface.
First, Ushikawa investigates the dowager, whose name is Mrs. Ogata. She has a listed phone number, but her male secretary refuses to let Ushikawa speak to her without sufficient reason. Further attempts to investigate her background all come up against “a wall” that prevents Ushikawa from finding anything of interest.
Ushikawa thoroughly searches the neighborhood surrounding Willow House and the safe house for battered women. He soon meets a real estate agent who inexplicably takes a liking to him. This unnerves Ushikawa, who is used to people disliking him for his ugliness and horrible fashion sense. The real estate agent willingly explains about the safe house for battered women and the dowager’s reclusive nature.
The next avenue of Ushikawa’s search is the Center for Victims of Domestic Violence. Ushikawa visits the director and offers a small grant. Like most people, the director seems inclined to dislike Ushikawa. However, a charity is not in a position to turn down money, so the director answers Ushikawa’s questions patiently. Through this conversation, Ushikawa learns that the Center has a generous wealthy donor who insists on keeping his or her identity secret. It is likely that this donor is the dowager.
Ushikawa’s investigation of the death of Mrs. Ogata’s daughter turns up little evidence. The public record shows that she died of illness, but Ushikawa knows that this is unusual for a wealthy woman in her thirties. He concocts a theory that the young woman was the victim of domestic violence. This would help explain the subsequent disappearance of her husband, as well as Mrs. Ogata’s commitment to the domestic violence issue. Ushikawa thinks that this guess is probably right, but he cannot find a connection from it to Aomame or to the murder of Leader.
In spite of the general lack of evidence, Ushikawa resolves to continue his search. His gut sense is still there, and he is not a quitter. This is one of the few aspects of his own nature that make him proud. In his mind, his instincts and his perseverance are the...
(The entire section is 418 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 5 Summary
Aomame spends her days exercising, cleaning, cooking, eating, reading, and listening to classical music. Her time alone is not terribly bothersome to her. She has never been a highly social person, so it is not a major change for her to be alone. In many ways, staying out of sight in an apartment is considerably less painful than being a social outcast among others.
Although she continues to contemplate suicide, Aomame also continues thinking about seeing Tengo on the slide. She cannot quite give up on life as long as she has hope that he may return to the place where she last saw him. In the evenings, she always looks for him. This quickly becomes the most important part of her life.
One afternoon, someone knocks on Aomame’s door. Tamaru has frequently instructed her to keep still and keep the door locked if anyone does this. Aomame follows these instructions, holding the pistol ready in her hand and listening carefully. A moment later, the man outside begins to shout.
The visitor claims that he is an NHK collector, come to pick up the fees for “Miss Takai,” the person whose name is printed on the door. He claims to be able to tell that someone is at home, hiding from him. Apparently many people hide because they want to get out of paying their fees. He shouts that she should stop avoiding her duty and just take care of her bill. After all, it is breaking the law to watch TV unless you pay NHK.
The NHK collector keeps up his shouting for a long time, and his words soon become abusive. He calls Miss Takai “a thief” and “a pitiful little rat hiding in the dark.” Aomame understands that he is only trying to embarrass her publicly into paying the fee, but she still feels terrified. She does not want anyone in the building to become aware of her, and she normally takes care to be as quiet as possible.
Eventually the man gives up and goes away, but Aomame is left feeling shaken. His voice sounds “malicious, sick even,” and his words about hiding in the apartment are too accurate to be accidental. She drinks tea and showers to calm herself, but she still feels horrible. She climbs onto the sofa and thinks about the NHK collector’s words: “You can keep as quiet as you like, but one of these days someone is going to find you.” Aomame hopes that Tengo will be the one to find her. If he does not, then somebody else surely will.
(The entire section is 433 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 6 Summary
Tengo sticks to his routine, writing in the mornings and visiting his father in the afternoons, for nearly two weeks. All the while, he hopes to see the air chrysalis again. He wonders if he is making the right choices or if his whole approach to this goal is “meaningless.” But every time he thinks of that little Aomame in the chrysalis, he renews his resolve to keep trying.
Tengo’s quest puts him in an odd position regarding the three nurses who care for his father. They think he is “a kind person” for showing so much concern for the old man. This makes Tengo uncomfortable, largely because his presence at his father’s bedside is really for his own sake. Tengo makes a few self-deprecating comments about having been a mediocre son, but these just seem to make the nurses like him even more. They take a genuine interest in his welfare and sometimes stop to listen to him read aloud to the old man.
Nearly every day, Tengo speaks with Fuka-Eri on the phone. On one such occasion, she says that the NHK collector came to the door again. When she refused to open the door, the man shouted, “Mr. Kawana, you’re a thief.” This story gives Tengo a sudden, vivid memory of his father using this exact strategy to embarrass people into paying their fees.
Tengo also tries calling Komatsu. Komatsu has returned to work after his long absence, but his demeanor is different than it used to be. He has always been very talkative and dramatic, but lately he has been the opposite. Tengo worries about this. He thinks Komatsu is keeping quiet about something.
One day, on Tengo’s way out of the sanatorium, he is stopped by Nurse Tamura, one of the three women who have taken an interest in him. She says that Tengo looks like “a horse sleeping standing up” and needs to take a break from his routine. She invites him out for dinner and drinks with the group of nurses. Tengo agrees, largely because he cannot think of a reason to say no.
During the evening, the nurses eat and drink a great deal. They tell Tengo that they go out once every month because “it’s important to get away from it all sometimes.” Tengo agrees politely, although he never really has this sensation himself. Throughout the evening, he gamely allows the three women to give him advice and grill him on his love life.
When the nurses begin a conversation about people Tengo...
(The entire section is 499 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 7 Summary
Although he remains convinced that the dowager, Mrs. Ogata, has something to do with Leader’s murder, Ushikawa eventually resolves to back away from his research on her. He knows that if he keeps poking around Mrs. Ogata's property, he will be noticed by the people who protect her. If this happens, it will make his job yet harder. For the time being, he shifts the focus of his investigation back to Aomame herself.
Unable to find enough information through legal means, Ushikawa seeks illegal information instead. He hires a criminal to get him Aomame’s records from her health club and from the Society of Witnesses. This costs a great deal of money, but Ushikawa pays out of his own pocket. He is getting desperate because he feels sure he will be murdered if he does not turn something up for Sakigake soon.
Ushikawa visits Aomame’s old apartment and pretends that he wants to rent it. The landlord tells him that the place is empty, but that the former tenant has paid the rent through the end of the year. To Ushikawa, this serves as further evidence that Aomame must be backed by a wealthy organization.
When Ushikawa gets the files on Aomame, he sits down and reads them in their entirety, hardly leaving his desk for several hours. From the health club files, he learns that Aomame and Mrs. Ogata have known each other for four years. He gets the feeling that the women’s relationship became close, but he has no concrete proof of this. To his annoyance, he finds no clues about why the two of them may have plotted and carried out Leader’s murder.
The information from the Society of Witnesses gives Ushikawa a detailed sense of Aomame’s childhood family life. The record on Aomame herself contains information up to age eleven, and then it simply stops. It looks as if she died, but Ushikawa knows that she simply left the faith. He wonders if domestic violence occurred in Aomame’s home, but he finds no evidence of it.
Darkness falls outside, but Ushikawa continues sitting at his desk, examining the files. He lingers on the name of Aomame’s elementary school. He recognizes it, but he does not know why. He has never even visited the area where Aomame grew up. Eventually he makes a connection to Tengo Kawana, who grew up in that same area. Ushikawa looks through some old notes and, with a thrill of discovery, realizes that Tengo and Aomame attended the...
(The entire section is 443 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 8 Summary
As Aomame continues her life of isolation in her apartment, she adheres strictly to her daily schedule. She soon realizes that her mouth muscles are getting too little use, so she asks Tamaru to send a set of Spanish language tapes, and she adds daily language study to her routine. As she practices pronouncing the strange sounds, she daydreams about moving to Costa Rica with Tengo.
In the past, Aomame never had trouble sleeping, and she rarely dreamed. Now her patterns change. She often awakes from vivid dreams in the middle of the night. When this happens, she usually spends a few minutes struggling to determine what is real and what is not. This is highly disconcerting to her.
All of Aomame’s dreams leave her with a sense of powerlessness. In one dream, she is aware of a presence in the room with her. She sits up in bed and finds herself alone, but she thinks she sees a large, dark hole in the wall. In another dream, Aomame stands naked on the Metropolitan Expressway Number 3. All the drivers stare disparagingly at her body until a kind middle-aged woman comes and wraps a coat around her. In the third dream, Aomame’s body slowly turns clear. She can look down and see her bones and uterus and heart through her skin.
When Tamaru next calls, Aomame asks for a home pregnancy test. He seems worried by this request. Soon after, he gets the dowager to call Aomame for a womanly chat. Aomame explains that she has not had sex recently, but she thinks she may be pregnant anyway. She suspects that conception may have happened magically on the day she killed Leader. Strange as this claim is, the dowager takes it seriously. She promises to send some pregnancy test kits with the next supply delivery.
Soon after this conversation, the threatening NHK collector comes back to Aomame’s door. As before, she stays silent while he shouts. By now she knows that the NHK fees for the apartment are paid. The door is marked with a sticker that indicates this fact. Still, he stands outside demanding the fees, and his words seem uncannily designed to frighten Aomame personally:
You’re very clever at hiding...But in the end you won’t be able to escape. Someone will come and open this door.
Aomame thinks this man may know who she is, but if so, she does not understand his plan. If he wanted to kill or kidnap her, he would be...
(The entire section is 473 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 9 Summary
Tengo’s night on the town with the three nurses reaches its end. The two older nurses, both of whom are married, leave on the bus. This appears to be a deliberate attempt at matchmaking between Tengo and the only unmarried nurse, Nurse Adachi. He feels obligated to walk her home. On the way, she invites him to smoke hashish. She explains that she has tried this drug just once before, and she wants to do it again.
Tengo has never used any illegal drugs, and he has little interest in doing so. He is about to say no and leave when Nurse Adachi says offhand that smoking hashish makes her feel like a dohta in an air chrysalis. Tengo is so intrigued by this comment that he decides to accept her invitation. As he follows her inside, he reflects that he still does not understand what an air chrysalis is.
Nurse Adachi’s first name turns out to be Kumi, and her apartment is full of uncomfortable, unmatched furniture. She and Tengo sit on a scratchy love seat smoking hashish and listening to the sounds of an owl hooting in the woods nearby. At first, Tengo thinks that the drug has no effect on him. Then, suddenly, his brain begins to feel “like hot, thick porridge,” and he thinks the owl’s hooting is coming out of his own body.
As the drug takes hold of Tengo, he once again sees himself in his elementary school classroom holding Aomame’s hand. He tells her that he wanted to find her. She says that she has already found him and that she is waiting to find him again. She tells him to come to her before it is too late.
Tengo passes out. Later he awakes in his underwear in Kumi’s bed. Lying beside him, Kumi claims that she has died and been “reborn…more or less, in all sorts of forms.” She also explains that he needs to leave town “before the exit is blocked.” He repeats these words, trying to make sense of them. Eventually he goes to sleep.
In the morning when Tengo awakes, Kumi is still sleeping. He gets dressed and leaves, writing a note to thank her for the experience. He wonders briefly if he had sex with her, but he thinks he did not. When he arrives at his inn a while later, nobody comments on his overnight absence. The staff serves his breakfast. As he eats, he decides that it is time to go home to Tokyo—but first needs to go back to the sanatorium one more time.
(The entire section is 438 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 10 Summary
In the train on the way to Tengo and Aomame’s old elementary school, Ushikawa thinks about his own childhood. As a boy, he was was just as ugly as he is now, and he was a terrible athlete besides. Because of this, he never had any friends. He was always intelligent and a good listener, but he formed no connections with other people. Even his family disliked him, and he returned the feeling.
The vice principal of Tengo and Aomame’s old school greets Ushikawa politely. He tells her his usual lie about Tengo being short-listed for a special arts grant. Ushikawa claims that he needs background information on both Tengo and Aomame, who is supposedly featured in one of Tengo's stories. The vice principal is clearly excited that a graduate of her school may win an award. She gives Ushikawa copies of paperwork on both students. She also contacts Tengo’s old teacher and makes an appointment for her to meet Ushikawa this afternoon.
After this small success, Ushikawa travels to another elementary school to meet Tengo’s old teacher. This woman, Miss Ota, recalls Tengo fondly and notes that he was a brilliant boy. She shares a story about helping Tengo when his father kicked him out in fifth grade, and she explains that Tengo had rebelled against accompanying his father on NHK collection rounds. She apparently sympathized with him on this issue, and she is full of praise for Tengo’s many talents. Ushikawa gets the distinct impression that working with Tengo was a highlight of Miss Ota’s career.
Miss Ota seems less happy when Ushikawa asks about Aomame. The teacher explains that Aomame’s parents were the strictest followers of the Society of Witnesses she has ever met, and that they forced Aomame to follow them around the streets of Tokyo when they proselytized. Aomame was shunned by the other children because she was so different, and Miss Ota could do little to help. With obvious shame, Miss Ota confesses that she was young at the time and not very good at managing classroom bullies.
Ushikawa leaves feeling pleased by what he has learned. He has confirmed that Aomame and Tengo knew each other as children, and he has established some strong similarities between the two. Both clearly disliked walking around the city knocking on doors with their parents. By now he has also confirmed that both supported themselves on athletic scholarships in high school. However,...
(The entire section is 443 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 11 Summary
The next time Aomame's resupply team visits the apartment, she receives several pregnancy tests and a book on women’s anatomy. She promptly takes one of the pregnancy tests. It is positive, which means she is pregnant. She tries another test and gets another positive result.
When she learns that she is going to have a baby, Aomame’s first reaction is to say the prayer she was taught to say in childhood. She reflects that she no longer believes in the words of this prayer, but that they are “chiseled” into her “like a secret tattoo.” They come out of her mouth at difficult moments in her life, and they probably always will.
It is hard for Aomame to accept that she is pregnant when she has not had sex for many months. But after her mind settles a little, she decides that she is happy about it anyway. As she turns the idea over in her mind, she becomes convinced that the baby is Tengo’s:
Somehow, through a gap in the thunder and rain, the darkness and the murder, a special kind of passageway opened...And in that instant we took advantage of the passageway.
Aomame knows that this idea is crazy, but she also knows that crazy things happen in 1Q84. She feels implicitly that her idea is right, even though she cannot prove it. It fits emotionally with her experiences, feelings, and dreams.
Suddenly it occurs to Aomame that there may still be a way out of 1Q84. Instead of looking for the stairwell leading down from the expressway, she should look for a stairwell leading up to the expressway. She has the urge to go look for such a stairway right now, but she convinces herself that this is a bad idea. Tengo is in 1Q84. She needs to find him first and then try to get back to the ordinary world.
The next day, Tamaru calls. He has checked with NHK and learned that the fee collector for Aomame’s area has not visited her building recently. Furthermore, the collector is aware that the NHK fees for Aomame’s apartment are already paid. Whoever keeps knocking on the door has nothing to do with NHK.
Tamaru asks about the pregnancy tests, and Aomame gives him her news. She says that she wants to keep the baby; she is not going to “deal with it” by having an abortion. Tamaru accepts this decision and admits that he fathered a child once, even though he is gay. He has never met the child. He does...
(The entire section is 537 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 12 Summary
After breakfast, Tengo packs up and goes to the sanatorium. He does not see any of the three nurses who remind him vaguely of the three witches from Macbeth. He goes to his father’s room and opens a window. He hesitates for a moment, then marches to the bedside and accuses his unconscious father of giving up on life.
Sitting next to the bed, Tengo explains that he once saw an air chrysalis in this room. He confesses that he came back to the sanatorium not to visit his father, but to see that air chrysalis again:
It would take too long to explain the whole thing, but an air chrysalis is a product of the imagination, a fictitious object. But it’s not fictitious anymore. The boundary between the real world and the imaginary one has grown obscure.
After saying this, Tengo goes on to say that he may be crazy, but he thinks that his father’s consciousness is wandering around without him, going about its business as an NHK collector. Tengo believes that his father has been knocking on apartment doors and scaring people like Fuka-Eri. Studying his father’s blank, comatose face, Tengo says:
There’s just one thing I want: for you to never knock on my door again...Don’t knock on any more doors anywhere. You’re not an NHK fee collector anymore, and you don’t have the right to scare people like that.
When he has finished saying this, Tengo goes back to Tokyo. He resolves never to return to the sanatorium until after his father dies. As he boards the train home, Tengo gets the odd feeling that he may get stuck in the “cat town.” He is relieved when he makes it all the way home.
When he arrives at his apartment, Tengo finds the place clean and empty. Fuka-Eri is gone. Tengo is not terribly surprised by this. He thinks about the night when she climbed on top of him and put his penis inside her. The experience did not feel like sex since he felt no pleasure and had no choice in the matter. Nevertheless, the orgasm was the most powerful he has ever had. He feels that it “must have reached her womb, or even beyond.”
Tengo thinks now about Aomame and wonders if she is still within reach. On the night he went to look for her, Fuka-Eri said, “Do not worry. Even if you cannot find that person, that person will find you.” He goes out to a bar and orders...
(The entire section is 462 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 13 Summary
Since he was a child, Ushikawa’s ugliness has made him stand out in a crowd. Even in his family, he failed to fit in. He was rarely called on to speak, so he listened instead. He soon learned that most people are shallow. He grew up and somehow managed to get married and father two children, but that did not last. It fell apart, and now his ex-wife and children make no effort to see him anymore.
Ushikawa’s distinctive appearance makes it hard for him to spy on people. He is just too noticeable. When he needs to tail someone, he usually hires a private detective, but he does not want to do that now. He searches for a private, unnoticeable way to watch Tengo’s apartment, but he finds no good vantage point within the Koenji neighborhood. After searching for some time, he resolves to take a break.
At home, Ushikawa draws a lukewarm bath and sits listening to classical music. He lets his mind wander in the hope that some idea will come to him. Eventually he has a simple inspiration. He gets out of the tub and goes back to Koenji, where he inquires about an apartment in Tengo’s building. There is one spot on the ground floor, which the real estate agent lets him look at without supervision. When he asks about theft and such, the agent says, “You don’t look to me like someone who would do something bad.” Ushikawa puzzles over this but soon realizes that a person with his odd features would be easy for the police to track. The real estate agent probably meant that Ushikawa could never get away with committing a crime.
Ushikawa finds the empty apartment perfect for his purposes, so he promptly rents it with his fast diminishing funds. A few days later, he is all set up with a camera. He takes pictures of all the people people who enter and leave the building. He does not spot Tengo at all on the first day, so he concentrates on getting good pictures and learning the faces of the neighbors.
During his long hours of surveillance, Ushikawa reflects on his wife and children. Unlike him, they were all good-looking. He thinks privately to himself that it was a relief when he lost his old job and they left him. Someone like him, whom everyone has found repellent forever, cannot handle being a successful lawyer with an attractive family. It was just too good to be true.
Now that he is back on his own, ugly and outcast as ever, Ushikawa feels more like...
(The entire section is 476 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 14 Summary
No matter how hard she tries, Aomame finds it impossible to get used to 1Q84. Bits and pieces of the new world’s rules become clear to her, but generally she feels confused. The one idea that seems rock-solid is that Tengo is the father of her child. There is no logical reason for her to believe this is true, but she is sure of it anyway.
Now that she knows she is pregnant, Aomame understands why she is not lonely. She has “this little one” with her at all times. She cannot yet see a bulge at her belly, but she gains a few pounds and notices a certain plumpness around her face. This, she reasons, is the little one’s doing.
As Aomame watches the playground one evening, she suddenly realizes that she believes in God. This is a shock to her because, since childhood, she has hated God for creating the religion that so restricted her freedom. She has always seen God only as the center of that religion, but now she realizes that she can believe in her own kind of God. She decides that her God is not one who praises and punishes; her God is “simply there.” This realization brings her a certain peace, but it also makes her wonder what God has to do with the Little People and her little one.
At night, Aomame has a new dream. She is locked in a room with no furnishings except a plain bed. She lies on the bed with the little one growing inside her. Leader’s two bodyguards are holding her captive. She is desperate to get away, but they are just as desperate to keep her locked up. Whenever she has this dream, she wakes up terrified. Upon waking, she showers and checks her gun. She resolves to kill anyone who tries to hurt her or the little one.
One day, the NHK collector makes another of his screaming visits. Shortly afterward, Aomame speaks with the dowager on the telephone. The dowager explains that a new safe house has been arranged for Aomame, a place where she can have the baby safely. Aomame thanks the dowager but says that she needs a bit more time where she is.
During this phone call, the dowager confesses that she is beginning to feel old and that she has lost the intense feelings of anger she used to have. Comparing notes, they both agree that their anger leaked out of them on the night of the thunderstorm—the night when Aomame killed Leader.
(The entire section is 429 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 15 Summary
Once again Tengo goes to the playground and climbs the slide. Once again he sits looking up at the moons. He has not spoken to anyone except Fuka-Eri about the change in the sky. Somehow he feels that “the two moons are a special message” for him alone and that he is “not permitted” to speak of them. He recognizes that this is a strange point of view. After all, he does not know who could use celestial bodies as personal messages or make rules against discussing them. For a long time, Tengo sits on the slide and waits for a new message about what to do next. Nothing comes to him. Eventually he gives up and walks back home.
The next day, Tengo goes to work at the cram school. He finds a letter waiting for him from Fuka-Eri. It says that she is leaving because someone has been watching them. It also says that Aomame is still within walking distance of his apartment, but that he must not be seen if he goes out to find her.
As has become his habit, Tengo accepts Fuka-Eri’s statements as fact. However, he does not know what to do about what she has said. He does not understand why someone would suddenly start watching his apartment now. If the watcher simply let Fuka-Eri leave, then she is not the object of surveillance. But who would care about Tengo? And how would someone watch him? He studies the view from his window but sees no good vantage point for a person trying to observe his apartment.
The following evening, Tengo meets Komatsu at a bar. There Komatsu announces that Fuka-Eri is back in residence at Professor Ebisuno’s house. According to Komatsu, the Professor knows that she was staying with Tengo and wants to know whether they had a sexual relationship during that time. Tengo says no. This does not feel like a lie to him; in his mind, the odd encounter during the lightning storm did not count as sex.
Komatsu claims that he started the publication process for Air Chrysalis wanting fun and money. At first he got both, but now his plan has gone off-track. He confesses that in late August, he was kidnapped. He seems to find it difficult to believe, even now, that such a thing happened to him. As Tengo tries to absorb the shock of the news, Komatsu begins telling the story.
(The entire section is 409 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 16 Summary
For two days, Ushikawa watches people entering and leaving Tengo Kawana’s building. Ushikawa photographs everyone and gets his film developed regularly. He compares the morning and evening photographs to get a sense of who comes and goes at what times. He collates the pictures and makes up nicknames for each resident of the building. He does not, however, see Tengo at all.
Eventually Ushikawa calls the cram school where Tengo works. A secretary says that Tengo is out of town visiting a family member who is ill. This surprises Ushikawa, who knows that Tengo is estranged from his only living family member, his father. For a while, Ushikawa considers giving up his surveillance and investigating this strange development, but his gut tells him to stay put and get a better sense of the comings and goings of Tengo’s neighborhood.
As Ushikawa settles in for another day of surveillance, he reflects that he has never done anything morally good in his life. He did well in college and passed the bar exam at a young age, but his ugliness prevented him from being hired by major law firms. Forced to build a law practice on his own, he soon began accepting shady jobs for organized crime. It was easy to find this type of client because his ugliness marked him as an outsider, which made criminals trust him. Eventually Ushikawa made a mistake in his work and got disbarred. This led to a slow downward slide to his present position as a shady investigator for shady organizations. His current work may well kill him.
In the afternoon, Ushikawa spots a striking young girl leaving the building. He recognizes her as Fuka-Eri, whose photograph he has seen in the newspaper. Intrigued, he follows her to the grocery store and back home. Later in the day, she comes outside again and looks up at an electric pole. When Ushikawa snaps a picture of her, she turns and looks straight at his window. Her eyes seem to rest on him, even though he is hidden behind a curtain and a camera lens. The experience of being stared at by a beautiful, perceptive girl leaves him feeling more ugly and hopeless than ever. After she goes inside, he spends the evening feeling too depressed to work.
The next morning, Ushikawa forces himself back to his task. He is surprised when someone knocks on his door, but he decides to ignore it. The knocking continues, and eventually an NHK collector begins shouting at him....
(The entire section is 484 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 17 Summary
One evening while Aomame is supposed to be watching the playground, she leaves her post to take a phone call from Tamaru. He asks about Proust, and she explains that the world of In Search of Lost Time feels different from her own world. She finds herself reading and re-reading bits and pieces of the text. When she tries to read in just one direction, she gets “a sense of time wavering irregularly.” She feels that she can read the story in various orders and still generally understand what she is meant to understand.
The conversation shifts to an ugly, misshapen man who was recently seen lingering outside Willow House and the safe house for battered women. Tamaru checked up on this man and found out that he was deliberately trying to gather information about the dowager. It is likely that he is investigating the connection between the dowager and Aomame. This makes Tamaru nervous, and he says that Aomame may have a “weak point” that leads this odd investigator to her front door. They nickname the misshapen man Bobblehead, and Aomame promises to watch out for him. However, she and Tamaru both note regretfully that Bobblehead may have accomplices. It makes them both nervous to know that they do not possess extra sets of eyes to keep watch in all directions at all times.
After hanging up, Aomame makes herself a cup of hot chocolate and sits at the table for a short while, drinking and thinking. During this time, she misses seeing Tengo Kawana at the top of the slide, looking at the moon. When she does return to the porch, she sees a bowlegged child with a huge head running out of the playground. It is dark, so she does not realize that this “child” is really Ushikawa, the man that she and Tamaru have nicknamed Bobblehead. Ushikawa does not see Aomame or sense her presence. Soon she gives up her nightly vigil and goes to bed.
In the night, Aomame dreams that she and the dowager are both in the butterfly house at Willow House. Aomame’s rubber plant is there, and her pregnancy is far advanced, almost at its due date. Someone opens the door and enters, but she wakes up before she finds out who it is. Alone in bed, she thinks:
Something bad might be about to happen. Somebody might be trying to get the little one. And whoever that is might be very close by.
(The entire section is 414 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 18 Summary
In the bar with Komatsu, Tengo listens to the story of the kidnapping. Komatsu explains that his attackers drugged him, putting him to sleep. He awoke in a cube-shaped room furnished only with a bed, a desk, and a toilet. There were no windows, so Komatsu is not certain how much time passed. However, his captors brought meals at regular intervals and turned out the light periodically, so he thinks that they were following the ordinary patterns of day and night. Komatsu ate everything he was given and slept well at night, two facts which perplex him because he does not normally eat much or sleep soundly.
After what Komatsu believes was three days, two men in black suits came to speak with him. One had a buzzcut, and one had a ponytail. Only Buzzcut spoke. He refused to identify himself, but he allowed Komatsu to advance the “hypothesis” that he worked for Sakigake. He told Komatsu to call in to work and claim to be ill. Komatsu obeyed, and then the men left him alone again.
Ten days passed, all of which were exactly like the first three. During this time, Komatsu struggled primarily with boredom because he had nothing to do and nothing to read. When the men appeared again, Buzzcut explained that the people of Sakigake were greatly harmed by the publication of Air Chrysalis. Speaking of the adherents of the religion in the third person, he said, “The voice no longer speaks to them.” Somehow, Fuka-Eri’s story drove the voice to stop speaking to Leader, whom Buzzcut identified as Tamotsu Fukada, Fuka-Eri’s father. According to Buzzcut, the people of Sakigake were now desperate to find a new leader and get the voice back.
During this conversation, Buzzcut made it very clear that he was willing to kill if necessary. He ordered Komatsu to stop printing copies of Air Chrysalis. Supposedly, further dissemination of the novel would make it harder for Sakigake to achieve its goals.
Komatsu agreed to Buzzcut’s terms, and several days later he was abruptly returned home. As soon as possible, he visited the Professor and explained about Fukada’s death. After that, he returned to work and made arrangements to stop printing new copies of Air Chrysalis. It was not too difficult to convince his bosses that this was necessary. He hinted at a scandal involving a ghostwriter, and they let him do what was necessary.
(The entire section is 564 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 19 Summary
By the Thursday after his arrival at Tengo’s apartment building, Ushikawa knows the faces of the people who come and go. He no longer takes photographs unless something unusual catches his eye. Today that happens in mid-afternoon, when Fuka-Eri appears again, this time with a bulky bag. He realizes that she is leaving, and he guesses it is because she is aware of his presence.
As before, Fuka-Eri turns and looks straight at Ushikawa. Again he gets the sense that she sees straight into him, even though he should not be visible at all. There is something so honest in her gaze that he feels shaken by it. He knows he should follow her, but he cannot make himself do it.
Ushikawa sits around “feeling powerless” all afternoon. Somehow Fuka-Eri’s gaze made him feel warm inside, and he has always felt cold before. The warmth feels good, but it also hurts. For hours he feels all wrapped up in self-hatred, aware that he is both internally and externally ugly.
Eventually, Ushikawa shakes himself out of his funk and returns to his surveillance. Other people may be warm inside all the time. Other people may be capable of making good, moral choices. Ushikawa cannot do the things other people can do—but he can tenaciously stick to his plans. His persistence is what sets him apart. As he gets back to work, the cold feeling inside him returns.
On Saturday afternoon, Tengo returns home. In the evening, he goes out again. When he exits the building, he pauses and looks around, but he does not see Ushikawa the way Fuka-Eri did. Ushikawa is relieved to realize that Tengo is “an ordinary person,” not “special” like the girl.
Slipping outside, Ushikawa follows Tengo to a bar and waits in the bitter cold until Tengo comes back out. Tengo does not seem to notice his pursuer as he walks to a playground and climbs to the top of a slide. Ushikawa waits and watches, feeling frustrated. The playground is not beautiful. It is a cold winter night. What possible reason could anyone have to sit on top of a slide and stare at the sky?
When Tengo finally rouses himself and leaves, Ushikawa does not follow. He sneaks around to a secluded spot and pees. Then, out of curiosity, he climbs the slide himself. He looks up and sees two moons. His first reaction is to think he is crazy or witnessing an illusion. Ultimately, however, he has to accept the reality that...
(The entire section is 468 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 20 Summary
Alone in her apartment, Aomame suddenly realizes that she has not experienced any sexual desire in months. She thinks this maybe a side effect of her pregnancy. Her appearance is changing as well. Her hair is lengthening, and her skin has taken on a beautiful glow. For the first time in her life, she rather likes her own facial features.
On Sunday evening, Aomame sees a man on top of the slide. When she looks closely, she realizes that it is Bobblehead, the man Tamaru warned her about. She watches him fearfully, but he just sits and stares up at the sky. It cannot be a coincidence that he is sitting in the exact same place and in the exact same position that Tengo did before. He must have followed Tengo to the spot. However, he does not seem to have guessed that Aomame lives nearby. His back is pointed toward her apartment, and he does not seem to be looking for anyone.
Aomame puts on a scarf and glasses to disguise herself. Then she follows Bobblehead to find out where he goes. He leads her to an ugly apartment building. She slips inside shortly after he does, and she examines the names on the mailboxes. Her plan is to find clues about Bobblehead’s identity, but she soon notices the name “Kawana” on one of the boxes. Kawana is Tengo’s surname. Could he possibly live in this building?
Aomame knows it is dangerous to try to make contact with Tengo now, but she cannot resist. She finds the correct apartment and rings the bell, alert all the while for attack. Nobody answers the door, and eventually Aomame decides that she cannot wait around. She is not certain that Tengo even lives here.
After rushing back home, Aomame calls Tamaru and tells him what has happened. He is angry at her for leaving the apartment alone, but he admits that she uncovered good information about Bobblehead. Aomame confesses her secret feelings for Tengo Kawana, and she explains that he may be the father of her baby. Under the circumstances, Tamaru finds it impossible to believe that this could be true. However, he decides not to argue about it for the time being.
Aomame does not feel that she can fight Bobblehead, so she asks Tamaru to do it instead. She also asks Tamaru to find out if Tengo lives in the building. She begs Tamaru to protect Tengo’s life even if it means endangering hers. Tamaru refuses to make any promises about protecting people he has never met, but he...
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 21 Summary
At 2:04 a.m. on Monday, a phone call awakens Tengo. When he answers, he is surprised to hear the voice of Kumi Adachi, the nurse who smoked hashish with him the night before his return to Tokyo. She informs him that his father has just died, and she asks him to come back to the sanatorium right away. Tengo promises to come on the earliest train.
Upon his arrival at the sanatorium a few hours later, Tengo learns that the doctors are mystified about the cause of his father’s death. Tengo is the only surviving family member, so all of his father’s business falls to him. This business turns out to be time-consuming but almost disappointingly easy. Tengo soon has a cremation permit, a death certificate, and so on. His father made his own funeral arrangements and put aside money for the funeral process. Tengo simply reviews the plans with the funeral home director and approves them.
In the afternoon, Tengo speaks with the lawyer who handles wills for inhabitants of the sanatorium. This lawyer gives Tengo an envelope and says that it was supposed to be passed on to Tengo's father's “legal heir.” This phrase sounds strange to Tengo, who asks whether his father ever used the word “son.” The lawyer says no; at the time of the conversation, he also found this strange. However, he says he did a thorough search, and Tengo is his father's only legal heir. Tengo’s father had no living relatives, and Tengo’s mother is dead.
This last comment startles Tengo. It proves that his mother is indeed deceased. All this time, he has refused to check the death registry and find out for certain. Now it turns out that this lawyer has done the job for him.
When the lawyer is gone, Tengo opens the envelope from his father. He finds some newspaper clippings from his child prodigy days, several awards his father received from NHK, and a stack of "emergency cash." Most significantly, he finds a photograph of a baby with a woman and a young man. He studies the picture, thinking that this has to be a photograph of himself with his mother and father. He has never seen a photo of his own family before, and he struggles to recognize his parents in the picture. It frustrates him that his father did not label the photograph or provide any explanation.
That evening, Tengo eats dinner with his three nurse friends in the sanatorium cafeteria. During the meal, he receives another...
(The entire section is 542 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 22 Summary
When Tengo goes out to meet Komatsu on Sunday evening, Ushikawa does not try to follow. Tonight he has his own plans. Hurriedly, he rushes back to the playground and climbs the slide. He stares at the two moons and wills himself to get used to their presence. It does not matter that their presence does not make sense. Logic comes from reality, and the reality in this case is clear: there are two moons.
After looking at the sky for a while, Ushikawa walks back to Tengo’s apartment building. He does not notice Aomame tailing him. In his apartment, he eats a bit and resumes his watch just in time to notice the departure of a small, slender woman. She has a hat pulled down over her eyes and a muffler over her mouth, as if she is trying to hide as much of her face as possible. He snaps a couple of pictures and wonders if this woman is Aomame.
Soon after Aomame’s departure, Ushikawa grows exhausted and goes to sleep. He sleeps through Tengo’s arrival home, and also through his early departure for the sanatorium. On Monday morning, Ushikawa expects Tengo to leave for the cram school. When this does not happen, Ushikawa is confused. Eventually he calls the school and learns that a “family emergency” has caused Mr. Kawana’s classes to be cancelled for the day. Ushikawa immediately deduces that Tengo’s father has died.
Ushikawa reflects that Tengo is now “utterly alone.” As it happens, Ushikawa already knows the story Tengo does not know about his own mother. Shortly after Tengo was born, she ran away with a lover. She took Tengo along with her, but she died soon afterward, strangled in her hotel room with the belt of a bathrobe. When Tengo’s father learned that his wife was dead, he decided to raise his son alone.
Ushikawa gets some pictures developed and studies them carefully. First he looks at the pictures of Fuka-Eri. Her deep gaze disturbs him almost as much in the photograph as it did in real life. The expression seems to say that she understands him completely and, knowing how awful his actions are, feels pity rather than contempt. Looking at her again, he thinks, “I really am twisted and ugly.”
Next, Ushikawa scrutinizes the photographs of Tengo and the “mystery woman” who visited the apartment building last night. There is little of interest in the pictures of Tengo. The "mystery woman’s" face is completely...
(The entire section is 596 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 23 Summary
Aomame stays up late on Sunday night, too worried to sleep. She knows that right now, Tamaru is out there gathering information and making choices that affect both her safety and Tengo’s. She knows perfectly well that Tamaru’s ultimate loyalty is not to her, but to the dowager. This means that he will not necessarily do what Aomame has asked him to do. However, he is “meticulous, capable, and experienced.” Under the circumstances, he is far better suited to the task of dealing with Bobblehead and protecting Tengo than she is. This knowledge helps, but it does not eliminate her anxiety.
By now, Aomame has read Air Chrysalis about ten times. However, she gets it out to read it again because it comforts her to be with Tengo's words. Around 2:30 on Monday morning, she stops reading and thinks about her fate. Her thoughts lead her to an important realization. All this time, she has been seeing herself as a character whose actions were determined by some outside force. But she did not just get dragged into 1Q84 by chance or fate:
I am not just some passive being mixed up in this because someone else willed it. That might be partly true. But at the same time I chose to be here.
Aomame herself wanted to meet Tengo again, and she has brought herself close. Her choices led her down that stairwell and into Tengo’s life story. Her actions will also help to determine what happens next because she and Tengo are “a team” working on this story together: “We create the story, and at the same time, the story is what sets us in motion.”
As she thinks all of this, Aomame feels something “warm and oozy” in her belly. The warmth is coming from the little one inside her. She unbuttons her pajamas and sees a “dim orange light” coming from her abdomen. It occurs to her that the little one is experiencing the same story she and Tengo are experiencing.
Aomame is still not sure how this new life got created, but she doubts that the Little People made it happen. She and Tengo have both been working against the Little People, so their child probably came out of that opposition. “But who—or what power—made this pregnancy possible?” Aomame cannot find any answer to this question. As the two moons glow in the sky outside, she finally goes to sleep.
(The entire section is 409 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 24 Summary
Tengo allows his father’s body to be cremated in the NHK uniform. The clothes look right on the body, but the casket does not look as good. It is flimsy and obviously cheap, but Tengo feels he should accept his father's choice in the matter. Such details are probably unimportant anyway.
What was more important was that a person had vanished from the face of the earth, and those left behind had to grasp what that entailed.
Kumi Adachi accompanies Tengo to his father’s cremation. There is no funeral service. The two of them simply sit and wait while the funeral home takes care of the body. After a long silence, Tengo thanks Kumi for coming. She replies:
It’s a terrible thing when a person dies, whatever the circumstances. A hole opens up in the world, and we need to pay proper respects. If we don’t, the hole will never be filled in again.
Tengo thinks this over and asks how this works when the hole’s closing eliminates all chance of discovering the dead person’s secrets. Kumi says that some facts are inexplicable, and some secrets just have to die with the person who kept them. Tengo struggles to accept this, but he has to admit that he has secrets that will probably die with him, too.
On the night Tengo smoked hashish with Kumi, she claimed that she had died and been reborn. Tengo asks about this, and Kumi says that she is not sure exactly how rebirth works. All she knows is that she has a strong memory of being killed by a strange man. He strangled her. She remembers his face, and she would definitely recognize him if she saw him on the street. If that ever happens, she plans to chase him down. She is sure he knows “some vital secret” about her; he may even know the reason for her existence.
When the cremation is finished, Kumi offers to inter Tengo’s father’s remains. For some reason, she seems to think that it is a bad idea for him to stay in town. She tells him not to search for his father’s secrets anymore. “If you keep doing so, you will never go anywhere. Better to think about the future,” she says. She escorts him to the train and watches to make sure he gets on.
When Tengo arrives home, he thinks his apartment seems too lonely and quiet. The stillness bothers him; it seems “excessive” and “contrived.” He wishes that Fuka-Eri...
(The entire section is 531 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 25 Summary
Ushikawa is tied up and blindfolded. He refuses to speak and gets punched hard in the kidney. Then he admits that he has been tailing Tengo Kawana in hopes of finding Aomame, who killed Leader. However, Ushikawa lies and claims that Sakigake’s leaders know exactly where he is.
The attacker, whom the reader can already recognize as Tamaru, does not believe the lie. One person cannot conduct full-time surveillance alone, and no organization as powerful as Sakigake would entrust such an important task to a single person. He says that he is sending Ushikawa “to the bottom of the sea.” He puts a bag over Ushikawa’s head and fastens it in place with a rubber band.
Again, Ushikawa thinks he is going to die. He fights for air, but there is none. Eventually Tamaru pulls off the bag, and Ushikawa gasps for breath. He is too afraid to lie anymore after this. He admits that nobody at Sakigake knows where he is, nor do they know about the connection between Aomame and Tengo.
Tamaru asks why Ushikawa did not tell Sakigake about Tengo and Aomame. Ushikawa explains that he conducted the background check that cleared Aomame to enter Leader's presence. It is partly Ushikawa’s fault that Leader died, and he is afraid he may be killed if he does not make himself useful. He explains everything he knows in detail, and he even gives Tamaru the phone number for his contact at Sakigake.
At this point, Tamaru tells a story about the psychologist Carl Jung, who wrote the words “Cold or Not, God is Present.” Tamaru makes Ushikawa say these words out loud. Then Tamaru slips the bag back over Ushikawa’s head and waits for him to die. It is a cold death for a man who has repeatedly been described as cold to the core.
When Ushikawa is dead, Tamaru apologizes to the corpse. He removes the bag and rubber band with gloved hands. He collects the camera equipment, photographs, and notebooks—anything likely to make people guess what was happening in this apartment. However, he leaves behind the business cards that declare Ushikawa to be the director of the New Japan Foundation for Scholarship and the Arts. This is a sham organization that can be traced back to Sakigake, and Tamaru knows it.
Tamaru does not have the resources to dispose of Ushikawa’s body, so he goes to a nearby pay phone and calls the phone number that he just got from Ushikawa. When a man...
(The entire section is 571 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 26 Summary
On Tuesday afternoon, Aomame receives a call from Tamaru. He says that Bobblehead has been “persuaded” to stop looking for her. As his cryptic explanation progresses, she realizes that the strange, misshapen investigator is dead.
Tamaru also confirms that Tengo Kawana, the man Aomame has been looking for, has been found. Tengo is out of town at his father’s funeral, and it is not clear when he will return. Tamaru has been inside the apartment, and he reports that Tengo is a neat young man who likes writing and knows how to cook and iron.
Aomame decides to tell Tamaru about the deal she made with Leader to exchange her own life for Tengo’s safety. She explains that, through some force she does not understand, Tengo impregnated her that night. When she learns that Sakigake no longer wants to kill her, she guesses that they want the little one. She wonders if her baby will have the power to hear the voice.
Tamaru listens carefully to everything Aomame says, but he is clearly frustrated by her wild claims. “I want to believe you, but I can’t fathom the logic,” he says. She agrees that it is not logical, but she maintains that it is true. Privately, she thinks:
Nothing’s been logical since the two moons appeared...That’s what stole the logic from everything.
Aomame refuses to leave her apartment until she gets a chance to talk with Tengo, and Tamaru refuses to let her go back to Tengo’s building. After some discussion, he agrees to deliver a message for her. She explains that she wants Tengo to “come to the slide after dark” and to bring along any possessions he cannot stand to lose.
After hanging up, Aomame decides that she is no longer going to follow plans made by others. From now on, she is taking control:
I’m going to do things based on one principle alone: my own will. I’m going to protect this little one, whatever it takes...I’m the one who decides what’s good and what’s bad—and which way we’re headed.
On Wednesday, Tamaru calls again and says that he has spoken with Tengo. Apparently Tengo has been looking for Aomame, just as she has been looking for him. Everything is set, but Tamaru seems upset that Aomame may go far away, where he may never see her again. The dowager is...
(The entire section is 513 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 27 Summary
Early Wednesday morning, Tengo receives a strange phone call from a man who refuses to identify himself. This mysterious caller, whom the reader knows as Tamaru, tells Tengo that Aomame wants to meet him. After giving instructions about where to meet and what to bring, Tamaru adds that time is short because of a “tense situation.” He insists that Tengo must not be be followed; otherwise he may not see Aomame ever again.
After promising to go to the slide at seven o’clock, Tengo hangs up and begins making preparations. He cleans his apartment and packs a small shoulder bag. He brings the novel he is writing, several notebooks, some floppy disks, and some cash and bank cards. After some reflection, he takes some personal financial and ID papers as well as the family photo his father left behind. He decides against bringing replaceable items like clothes.
Tengo’s preparations are finished by mid-morning. He is too keyed up to do any work, so he sits idly for a while and wonders how the meeting will go. He worries that he and Aomame will be disappointed in each other, and that meeting may ruin their imaginary ideas of each other. However, his desire to see Aomame outweighs his worries.
By evening, Tengo’s fears have shifted focus to Aomame’s “tense situation.” He wonders if someone is using him to get to Aomame, or vice versa. However, he cannot fathom why anyone would need her to find him, nor can he fathom how he could play a role in any plot against her.
On his way to the playground, Tengo is very careful. He frequently checks the street behind him in case someone is following him. He zigzags through a number of turns to throw off unseen pursuers. No suspicious people appear behind him. He arrives safely at the playground a few minutes before the appointed time.
Upon arrival, Tengo climbs the slide and sits facing the moon. For several minutes, he is near panic, wondering what will happen or where Aomame will come from. Eventually he closes his eyes and forces himself to be calm. The next thing he knows, Aomame is sitting beside him holding his hand. After twenty years, he still recognizes her grip. He keeps his eyes closed, thinking that he needs to “adjust and rethink every single element of life.” Aomame gives his hand a squeeze and tells him to open his eyes.
(The entire section is 410 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 28 Summary
Ushikawa’s dead body lies on a table in a cold room. Sakigake’s two guards, Buzzcut and Ponytail, watch over him. Buzzcut reflects on the odd phone call that brought the news of this death, and on the frenetic hours that followed as he and a small security team smuggled the body out of the apartment complex and into the Sakigake compound. Since their arrival, they have had the body examined by a doctor, who explained that Ushikawa was strangled to death by a professional, the kind of person who knew how to leave as little evidence behind as possible.
Earlier today, Buzzcut met with Sakigake’s upper leadership. He explained that he had little idea of what Ushikawa was doing in an empty apartment building. From his phone conversation with the murderer, he knows that the organization supporting Aomame is highly professional but totally uninformed about Sakigake. Meanwhile, Sakigake knows almost nothing about this enemy. Buzzcut wants to go to Tokyo to investigate the issue himself, but his superiors have ordered him to stay where he is. This means he just has to wait and hope that the murderer will permit him to meet with Aomame.
A meeting with Aomame is extremely important for Sakigake because the voice is gone. After Leader died, his shrine maidens conveyed only a few further messages. The last of these said to find Aomame but not to harm her. Buzzcut and the other people of Sakigake live by what they hear from the voice, and so this final word is the highest law they now have.
In the chilly room with the dead body, Buzzcut lets his mind review the situation over and over, looking for any clues he has missed. He asks himself repeatedly what Ushikawa was doing in the Koenji district. Eventually he remembers that Tengo Kawana lived in that neighborhood. After checking Tengo’s address, Buzzcut realizes that Ushikawa was in the exact same building. He tells Ponytail, and the two of them immediately call their associates in Tokyo to tell them to keep an eye on Tengo. They hop into a car and set out to help—but by this time, Tengo has already left home to meet Aomame under the two moons.
After Buzzcut and Ponytail leave, Ushikawa’s body lies alone in a cold room that is locked from the outside. In the darkness, the mouth moves. Six tiny, nondescript people crawl out. They sit down in a circle and begin weaving using threads they pull from thin air and from...
(The entire section is 441 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 29 Summary
Aomame tells Tengo to open his eyes and look at the moon. He looks up and sees both of the moons floating up there, “maza and dohta.” Then he gathers his courage and looks at Aomame. He feels none of the disappointment he was afraid he might feel at their reunion. She has grown up since he last saw her, but she is the same girl he has been longing for. She looks beautiful, but her eyes have the same pure desire to be with him that they did on the day she held his hand in elementary school.
Tengo tries to speak, but he is too overcome with emotion to get any words out. “We’re seeing the same thing,” Aomame says, and Tengo nods in agreement. They both know that she is referring to the two moons in the sky. Aomame is relieved. She explains that her plan would not work if it did not turn out that the two of them were in the same world.
As they sit together on top of the slide, Tengo thinks about all of the events that have occurred in the years they have spent apart. In his imagination, all of the lost time and missed opportunities swirl around and disappear. He feels that it is a shame they lived apart for so long, but he also knows that the missing time does not matter. They are meant to be together. As they grow reacquainted, they can learn about each other’s experiences over the past twenty years. But what they learn will make no difference to their closeness.
Aomame tells Tengo that they have to go somewhere. He nods and moves to join her. She asks him if he wants to know where they are going, and he shakes his head. He is willing to go wherever she wants to take him, without an explanation. When he finally finds his voice, he says simply, “We’re going to leave the cat town.” He struggles to explain what he means by this, but she understands. A cat town is 1Q84, a world full of challenges and illogic, a world with two moons.
Aomame tells Tengo that he is correct. She is taking him away from this strange world. Although she is not quite sure where they are going, she does know that the two of them will be together there. Tengo accepts this. Still holding hands, the two of them walk out of the playground. Overhead, clouds cover the moons.
(The entire section is 420 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 30 Summary
When they leave the playground, Aomame hails a cab and gives the driver directions to the place where she hopes to find the bottom of an emergency stairwell that leads up to the Metropolitan Expressway Number 3. In the backseat, Tengo looks at her clothing and sees that she is wearing a nice business suit and a thin coat. He does not know it, but this is the exact same outfit she wore on the day she entered 1Q84.
Aomame never lets go of Tengo’s hand during the ride. She says that she needs to explain a great deal to him but does not have time. She seems worried about this, but Tengo is willing to go along without understanding:
They could fill in all the gaps later, as they went—if there were indeed gaps that needed to be filled. Tengo felt that as long as it was something the two of them could share...he could discover a joy there, something akin to love.
As a start, Tengo and Aomame share what they already know about each other. Tengo knows only that Aomame has worked as a fitness instructor and has been living in Koenji. He is surprised to find out that Aomame knows that he was the ghostwriter for Air Chrysalis. This revelation makes him wary, but she assures him that they are both “on the same side.”
At this point, Aomame adds that she is pregnant with Tengo’s baby. “I know it sounds totally crazy,” she says. She asks him to think back on the night that the strange, unpredicted lightning storm hit Tokyo and flooded some of the subways. She says that she got pregnant on that exact night, even though she had not had sex for several months.
Naturally, Tengo remembers this night well. It was the occasion of his “strange sexual encounter” with Fuka-Eri, when his body went paralyzed and she climbed on top of him. He remembers having the strong impression that she wanted “to collect his semen.” He says slowly that he did have an odd, illogical experience on that night. He confesses that he did not and does not understand exactly what happened. However, he is sure that if Aomame got pregnant that night without having sex, then he must be the father.
Next Aomame explains that she is taking Tengo to a place “that’s not here.” Where they are going, they will only see one moon in the sky, and they will not have to worry about the Little People anymore. She thinks that she can take...
(The entire section is 604 words.)
Section 3, Chapter 31 Summary
Tengo and Aomame
Aomame leads Tengo to the fenced-in storage area under the expressway. “Is this it?” he asks as she walks around pressing on the fence, trying to find the spot where they can get through. When she finds it, she slips inside. Tengo has trouble squeezing his larger body through the same opening, but he manages to follow.
Privately, Aomame is terrified that the stairway will not exist. However, she forces herself to believe in it. When she does eventually find it, it is different than she remembers, like a rickety ladder. She shoves her high-heeled shoes into her bag and takes off her coat. After making sure that Tengo is behind her, she begins to climb. On the way up, she thinks about the little one and Tengo and her lost friends, Tamaki and Ayumi. She thinks about how stupid it was to wear a fancy suit instead of ordinary clothing. She spots a rubber plant on someone’s porch and remembers the rubber plant she left behind in her old apartment. Most of all, she prays that the stairway will let them back through to the world they originally left.
Near the top of the stairs, Aomame comes to a little catwalk. She pauses to wait for Tengo and—even though she is not yet sure that the stairs will take them all the way—assures him that they are almost done. He asks why she wore a fancy suit, and she promises to explain it someday, when they have more time. “You have beautiful legs,” he says. Aomame is pleased by this compliment. She moves on, crosses the catwalk, and climbs the last flight of stairs. She wills herself to believe wholeheartedly that she will reach the expressway. Halfway up, she stops and makes Tengo say he believes too.
To Aomame’s relief, the stairs really end at the expressway, where traffic, as always, is almost at a standstill. Aomame looks up at the billboard above her and thinks that the tiger pictured on it may be facing the wrong direction. This scares her because it may indicate that they have entered a whole new world instead of the old one. She tries to shake off this worry as she puts on her shoes.
Tengo has climbed up beside Aomame, and he asks if they are really in a different world. She says she is not sure. Then the clouds part to show them that there is only one moon. They both gaze up at it happily. The drivers on the expressway stare at them.
Soon an empty taxi appears. The driver picks them...
(The entire section is 647 words.)