Haruki Murakami Questions and Answers

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Why does the seventh man's view of the past begin to change in Murakami's novel?

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Haruki Murakami's The Seventh Man tells the story of a middle-aged narrator who is still trying to come to terms after he witnesses the tragic drowning death of his childhood best friend, K. After the tragedy, the narrator fled his childhood home, which was near the sea, to a mountain village in Nagano Prefecture.

Near the end of The Seventh Man, the narrator returns to his childhood hometown after receiving a bundle of pictures that K painted. The narrator's brother was cleaning out the storage shed of their old house after their father had died. In these paintings, the narrator realizes the beauty of the artwork, particularly how they portrayed "the soft landscapes of childhood that I had shut out of my memories for so long."

The narrator then returns to the town and finds that it had changed from a "quiet little seaside town" into an "industrial city." However, he then says that he was "not overcome by sentiment. The town had ceased to be mine long before."

When the narrator stands on the beach where his friend K drowned, he stares at the ocean. Throughout the story, Murakami compares the ocean to a giant beast, but in the end, he changes how he personifies the ocean—as it was "[a]lmost in reconciliation, now fondly washing my feet." Later, in a scene resembling a baptism (or at least a cleansing ceremony), the man falls face-first into the water and comes up with "no longer anything for me to fear."

After describing this incident, the seventh man says he stopped having nightmares and that, "in the end, I was able to attain a kind of salvation, to effect some sort of recovery."

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