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Mental disorders featured in Murakami's Norwegian Wood


Norwegian Wood is a fictional story that uses Toru Watanabe to be the main character whose life is explained. His friend, Kazuki, commits suicide without explanation at the age of seventeen. These tear him apart and damage him emotionally. Naoko who is already emotionally disturbed is significantly affected by the death of her boyfriend. The two friends spend a lot of time together. They make Sunday afternoon walks which are first meant to ease their pain, but the situation makes them fall in love. When in college, Naoko says that she needs a time out and goes into a mental hospital after making Toru making love on the night of her birthday when she is twenty and in college. The distance gives Toru room to meet Midori who is a complete opposite of Naoko. She is outgoing, jovial and emotionally stable, a character that puts Toru in a dilemma. The purpose of the paper is to discuss the mental disorders presented in the novel, explain why the use of intertextuality is important and to describe one character trait in the novel.

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Depression and Mental Disorders

The central theme of the book is the emotional disturbance by youths. First, there is Kizuki who commits suicide without explanation. It is even more worrying because everything seemed to have been going well in his life. Then, there is Naeko sister that had also killed herself when she was seventeen. There is also Hatsumi who commits suicide only two years after she got married. Naeko also commits suicide after the boyfriend leaves her. The deaths come along with emotional disturbance of those close to them. Naeko, for example, has been greatly by the death of both her sister and her boyfriend. Toru is also emotionally disturbed for both Naekos and Kizukis suicide to the point that he is unable to make proper decisions in his life.

The emotional disturbance might have been caused by the societal expectation of how youths behave. That is the reason why only people of tender age are affected by stress in the novel. For ample, girls expects that their boyfriends and husband will be faithful to them. They also expect to be loved at all time no matter their conditions. Their lives revolve around their boyfriends or husbands. That is the reason why Naeko is greatly affected by the death of her boyfriend. She cannot stand the thought of staying without Toru, the friend, which makes her commit suicide. She does not learn from the example of her new friend in the hospital who has also undergone such a situation. Her friend, Reiko enters into a depression that ruins her musical career after they separate with the husband. Hatsumi is always disturbed because her boyfriend is a serial cheater. He always goes to clubs for beer and one-night stand girls. She is not able to withstand the cheating, and so she commits suicide.

A stressed person is venerable and can easily get to what they had not planned to do. Most youth must have been influenced by peers because they were not thinking straight and needed a friend to lean on and share their views. Turo, for example, follows his friend to the clubs for beer and prostitutes even though he is guilty about cheating on his two girlfriends. The desperation of losing a friend drives him and Naeko to spend a lot of time together which later led into a relationship. They have walked every Sunday afternoons strengthening their friendship unknowingly. The making of the love of the two is after she burst into cries after the friend has brought for her cake and beer which made her talk unusually. It is more out of stress than due to love. The venerability of the new girlfriend disappearing without a word makes him fall in love with Midori who has different characters.


Intertextuality makes it easy to understand the novel. The start of the novel is when the memory of Toru, who is now 37 years are triggered by hearing a song about Norwegian Wood. The music symbolizes time which is around 1960 when the young people in the book are struggling to find their place in the society. The songs including the ones played by Reiko in mental school and Midori Fork group address the culture crush that is there between political faction and the then generation. It makes him remember of the hopes and the loss he went through in his youth time. The woods present A feeling of confusions as sometimes the characters are so lost while other occasions they have so much hope, happiness and comfortable with their situation. A person can be in the woods as a lost soul of a happy moment like Toru and Naoko walks. The book is in the form of a flashback which is a great style of writing.

The book has stated that Tori and his new friend Itoh who he meets after he moved out of his former dorm love BonisVian (Murakami, 2000). Vian is a musician, a poet and also write novels that inspire many people. The aim of mentioning this is to show how these young people are serious about their studies. They are also using their education to satisfy their interest in art although Toru did not attend the school because of interest. Toru and Nagasawa also love The Great Gatsby which is a love novel involving a millionaire obsession to a lady. It shows how the two are similar in their lives especially when it comes to love lives. Although Toro feels guilty about it, he cheats on his girlfriend who is in a mental hospital while his friend is a serial cheater.

Character Analysis

Naeko is a girlfriend to Kizuki at the beginning of the novel. They are both friends to Toru who is the narrator. The girl is emotionally disturbed for her sister committed suicide at the age of seventeen. Her soul damage becomes worse when the boyfriend does the same at the exert age with her sister. It is a pain that she and her friend are unable to bear. Naeko later meet with Toru in college, and they start spending time together which erupts to a love affair. During her 20th birthday, the alcohol she takes make her talks and shares her experience think that make her cry and led them to make love. She disappears to a mental school the following morning as she realized how she is emotionally disturbed. Her role I the book is to show how young girls are affected by relationship. The first relationship is that with her sister, the second one is with her first boyfriend while the third which led to committing suicide is the one with Turo. She also led as to another character, Reiko who explain to us how young couples undergo a lot of issues with their marriage to the extent of losing their mind. Her role is to present emotional disturbance of young females in the society.


The book reflects the life of young adults in the community. It explains with examples how they are emotionally disturbed. The stress led to some of them commuting suicide. The relationship is one of the primary factors that led to emotional stress for these young people. The death of ones lover makes the partner to be venerable. The pressure also extends to marriage especially to a young couple who have high expectations. Those who survive are the ones who can control their emotions and can make proper decisions over their lives.

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