Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Asian Studies

First Advisor

Megan Ferry




society, murakami, protagonists, tony, haruki


In three literary works of Haruki Murakami, South of the Border, West of the Sun, Kafka on the Shore, and “Tony Takitani,” the young male protagonists perceive themselves as lonely, marginal figures in contemporary Japanese society, and attempt to resolve their identity crises through relationships with influential women. Haruki Murakami suggests that the protagonist’s identity formation process is one that must be negotiated within the confines of society, but also relies on the character’s own decisions and interpersonal relationships. The protagonists must contend with the demands placed on them by society, in addition to notions of ideal masculine behavior. Two protagonists, Hajime and Tony, are not very successful in achieving a clear sense of who they are, while Kafka is ultimately able to resolve his inner conflict and accept his personality and place in society. The paper is divided into four chapters, the first providing background information on Haruki Murakami, the “I-novel,” and aspects of Japanese society. The next three are devoted to the three separate works of Murakami and include detailed analyses of the main characters. The paper examines the social climate surrounding the protagonists by drawing from research in psychology and anthropology, but also employs close readings of the text to analyze literary devices such as tone and narrative voice. This strategy provides a more comprehensive analysis of the protagonist’s psychological and social journey. As “Tony Takitani” is a short story, the chapter on “Tony Takitani” attempts to link the work, structurally and thematically, to Murakami’s two novels.