Chapters 17–18 Summary

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Chapter 17

The conversation over drinks remains awkward, and Joji realizes that Hamada truly is in love with Naomi. Hamada also attempts to defend Naomi by saying that Kumagai and the other members of their friend group have been a bad influence on her. He begs Joji not to leave her, worried that she will have no prospects without him. Joji thanks Hamada and explains that at least some of the fault lies with Joji himself, as he was the one who insisted that he and Naomi not behave like a traditional husband and wife. Joji resolves to fix their dynamic, and he tells Hamada that he will always be welcome in their home. Hamada is gracious, but he admits that he will need at least some time away in order to move past his feelings for Naomi.

Upon returning to the beach house rental, Joji finds Naomi asleep. He considers the best way to confront her with his new knowledge and ultimately realizes that if he presses her too hard for an apology, she will only become more obstinate. Instead, he calmly tells her about his conversation with Hamada and explains that he doesn’t need to hear a confession from her as long as she promises not to lie or be unfaithful to him anymore. She further promises not to spend any more time with Kumagai and the others, and they reach an uneasy accord.

Chapter 18

After returning home from Kamakura, things between Joji and Naomi remain tense. Joji finds himself constantly suspicious of Naomi, and he begins following her around and reading her mail. This infuriates Naomi, who tells him that they can never be happy again if he can’t learn to trust her.

Joji also admits that much of his ability to cherish Naomi was tied to her chastity. Now that she has been—at least in his eyes—defiled by Hamada and Kumagai, he views her as filthy and diminished in value. However, he cannot help but remain attracted to her physically, and Naomi uses this to her advantage during arguments.

When Joji brings up the idea that having a child will make them more like a traditional husband and wife, Naomi is immediately dismissive. She reminds Joji that he once made her promise never to have a child, as he said it was one of the worst things that could happen to a happily married couple. She accuses him of not loving her in the same way that he used to and says that she wants back the carefree happiness they used to have.

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Chapters 15–16 Summary

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Chapters 19–20 Summary