Is South of the Border, West of the Sun a ghost story?

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South of the Border, West of the Sun could be considered a ghost story. Haruki Murakami's novels tend to have a touch of the supernatural mixed in, and this work is no exception.

Let us consider Hajime's relationship with Shimamoto. After having her as a companion during his elementary...

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South of the Border, West of the Sun could be considered a ghost story. Haruki Murakami's novels tend to have a touch of the supernatural mixed in, and this work is no exception.

Let us consider Hajime's relationship with Shimamoto. After having her as a companion during his elementary school days, he then tracks a woman whom he believes to be her—because of her limp—from a Shibuya train station in chapter 6. He is stopped by a bodyguard and handed an envelope of "ten-thousand-yen bills" that he stuffs into his desk drawer, but he is unable to locate them when trying to find some evidence of Shimamoto's reappearance in his life in chapter 15. In chapter 8, why does Shimamoto not let Hajime recollect about the envelope during their first reunion? Murakami even has his protagonist, Hajime, question whether or not Shimamoto's resurfacing had been but a "delusion" or "illusion."

Also, let's think about if anyone outside of Hajime converses with Shimamoto once she comes back into his life. There are the implied conversations that would have taken place at the Robin's Nest between Shimamoto and the bartender for her to have those daiquiris she sipped from in chapter 8, and her "ordering" of the Robin's Nest's signature cocktail in chapter 9. Otherwise, Shimamoto seems to only speak to Hajime, and we are left without any concrete evidence of Shimamoto's adulthood existence in Hajime's world. Perhaps these are all scenes out of Hajime's imagination. Or, perhaps, Shimamoto has been extremely careful about staying undiscovered throughout her life and wants to continue to do so.

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