Haruki Murakami

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Are the feelings of guilt over K.’s death experienced by the narrator of “The Seventh Man” justified?  

The narrator felt guilty because he was the one who chose to go to the beach, despite knowing that it wasn’t safe. He left K on the beach when he ran behind the breakwater, and K is swept out to sea. The narrator feels like he didn’t do enough to help K, but he doesn’t deserve to feel this way because his actions couldn’t have saved K and put him in danger as well.

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No, the guilt that the narrator feels over K’s death is not justified. There are several reasons why it would be unfair to blame the death on the narrator. To begin with, the story, K dies when he is standing on the beach and a tsunami rises behind him. K...

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No, the guilt that the narrator feels over K’s death is not justified. There are several reasons why it would be unfair to blame the death on the narrator. To begin with, the story, K dies when he is standing on the beach and a tsunami rises behind him. K is unaware of the tsunami, and when he finally becomes aware, it's too late. He can’t outrun the wave, and he is swept out to sea—his body is never recovered.

The narrator feels immense guilt because he was the one who decided that they should go to the beach, something that isn’t safe to do during a tsunami. He leaves K on the beach when he runs behind the storm break. When K dies, the narrator still doesn’t move. He can’t bring himself to go into danger to try and find him, and he leaves feeling like he didn’t do enough to help K.

One of the reasons why this is not the narrator’s fault is that putting himself in danger would not have saved K; it would have probably killed them both. The narrator recounts,

I turned to K and said to him ‘Hey, let’s go.’

K doesn’t seem to hear him, but that doesn’t mean the narrator doesn’t try to get his attention. He considers going to grab K and drag him to the break, but his self-preservation instinct takes him the other way instead. When he gets to the storm break, there is almost no time at all before the wave hits and takes K away. If the narrator had tried to save K by pulling him to the storm break, it is possible that both of them would have been too slow and would have perished together.

A second reason why the narrator shouldn’t feel guilty is that K’s family doesn’t blame him for K’s death. Despite the narrator feeling like he deserves the guilt and blame, K’s family clears him of any guilt. It wouldn’t be fair for his family to blame the narrator, and it's unfair for the narrator to blame himself.

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