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...
(The entire section is 523 words.)