Kafka on the Shore

by Haruki Murakami

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Student Question

What is repeated in the given passage from Kafka on the Shore and what does this repetition emphasize?

“Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm”... “That's what this storm's all about.”

Quick answer:

One of the repeated sentences in this passage is “sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions.” A main character, Kafka, is playing “the game” with the boy named Crow in which he imagines a terrible sandstorm that he must go through. Crow also tells him that he needs to be the “world’s toughest fifteen-year-old,” another phrase that is repeated. The repetition emphasizes that Kafka cannot escape his fate and foreshadows the difficulties he will face.

Expert Answers

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In this passage of Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, there are two moments of repetition. The first is the sentence “sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions.”

At this point in the story, Kafka is preparing to run away from the home he shares with his father. To prepare mentally, he plays “the game” with the boy named Crow, which involves imagining a terrible sandstorm that is like an “ominous dance with death just before dawn.”

He pictures a violent scene in which white desert sand overpowers him, rendering him helpless. The only way to get through the storm is to surrender to it and accept that it is part of him. Kafka sees the storm as his own fate, which he can never escape.

Another moment of repetition occurs when Crow tells Kafka that he has got to be, and that he is going to be, “the world’s toughest fifteen-year-old.” This is the only way Kafka will survive the challenges that he is going to face. The deadly storm represents Kafka’s difficult journey once he leaves home. Crow tells him that he will not be sure when the storm is over, but he certainly will not be the same afterward.

Both moments of repetition emphasize what is at stake for Kafka and foreshadow his obstacles throughout the story.

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