Naomi Summary

Naomi is a 1925 novel by Jun’ichirō Tanizaki about a man named Joji who embarks on a tumultuous relationship with a young woman named Naomi.

  • Joji, twenty-eight, meets fifteen-year-old Naomi when she is working as a cafe hostess and takes her in, paying for her education.
  • The two secretly marry, but Joji later learns that Naomi has been unfaithful to him with multiple young men and has developed a reputation for promiscuity.
  • Naomi leaves at Joji’s behest, but Joji, still obsessed with her, eventually takes Naomi back, promising to give her anything she wants.

Summary

Download PDF PDF Page Citation Cite Share Link Share

Last Updated on February 25, 2022, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 428

This novel is narrated by Joji Kawai, a man of twenty-eight who initially adopts a young girl named Naomi, aged fifteen, after he meets her while she works as a hostess at a local cafe he frequents. He is drawn to her somewhat Western-looking appearance as well as her Western-sounding...

(The entire section contains 428 words.)

See This Study Guide Now

Start your subscription to unlock this study guide. You'll also get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Start your Subscription

This novel is narrated by Joji Kawai, a man of twenty-eight who initially adopts a young girl named Naomi, aged fifteen, after he meets her while she works as a hostess at a local cafe he frequents. He is drawn to her somewhat Western-looking appearance as well as her Western-sounding name, and he decides that she seems intelligent, though her background is humble. Joji begins to take her out to the movies and dinners, and he eventually decides that he wants to take her in and educate her to be a “fine young woman.” He receives permission from her relatively impoverished family to do so, and then they choose a little Western-style house together and live there as “friends.” Joji pays for Naomi’s English and music classes, and Naomi even calls him “Papa.” In retrospect, Joji realizes that he was in love with Naomi long before he actually knew it. He indulged her every whim, including for new Western clothes and Western dance lessons. Eventually, they decide to marry, though they keep the real nature of their relationship a secret from their families, Joji’s colleagues, and the rest of the world.

Years pass, and Naomi begins to develop friendships with other men. Joji then becomes suspicious of her activities. Although she assures him that she is still “chaste,” he finds out from one of these other young men—who also happens to be in love with her—that she is sleeping not just with him, but with several other men as well. As Naomi becomes more modern and more Westernized, she becomes more and more manipulative and deceitful. Joji is horrified when he learns how many men she has had relations with and that they call her horrible nicknames as a result of her willingness. Finally, one day, Joji throws her out, and though he feels relief initially, that relief quickly turns into regret. Naomi frequently comes back in order to pick up small items she left behind, and it becomes clear to Joji that she is manipulating him again. It is working. He will now do anything to have her come back to him, and he is obsessed with her white skin and Western-looking face and body. Ultimately, she agrees to come back as long as he gives her plenty of money, buys her anything she asks for, and never asks questions about the men whose company she keeps. He knows that he will now do anything to keep her in whatever capacity he can, so he keeps his promise to allow her ultimate freedom.

Illustration of PDF document

Download Naomi Study Guide

Subscribe Now
Next

Chapter Summaries