Postmodernism and Identity in Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World

2780 words 12 pages
Andrew Davis
December 12, 2013
English 181
Professor Kappeler

Postmodernism and Identity in Haruki Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Since the Age of Enlightenment, the ideas of identity and consciousness have been explored by philosophers, psychologists, writers, and more. Since then, the definition of what identity is has changed and evolved, leaving the true, overarching definition unknown. In his novel Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Japanese author Haruki Murakami explores the ideas of identity and the consciousness through ideas brought up by postmodernist philosophers and psychologists such as Karl Marx, C.G. Jung, and Sigmund Freud and uses them to create characterization,
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In Hard-Boiled Wonderland, the narrator is the Calcutec, the scientist is simply the Professor, and his granddaughter is the chubby girl in pink. It’s the same way in End of the World. Characters are known as their job titles. There is the Gatekeeper, the Dreamreader, the Librarian, and the Colonel. The Gatekeeper explains it best, saying, “From now on you are the Dreamreader. You no longer have a name”(Murakami, 39).
While this could be a nod to American hard-boiled fiction, it is also an obvious nod to the brand of philosophy created by Karl Marx, Marxism. The Marxist definition of identity says that the consciousness of each human is based on their social position, instead of their social position being based on their consciousness. This is an interesting route for Murakami to take, especially given the symbolism he uses in other parts of the novel. But this use of Marxist philosophy brings up an interesting point. Are we truly defined by just what we look like or what our position is? In a lot of ways, we are. We may not mean to judge and stereotype others, but we do it anyways - without thinking about it most times.
Murakami plays into this idea as well, especially when the Calcutec is describing the Librarian. He watches her eating and describes it with appalled astonishment, saying,” Never in my life had I seen such a slim nothing of a figure eat like such a terror…I was overwhelmed. And maybe a little disgusted”(Murakami,