Rushdie’s “Midnight Children” and Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore’

Introduction

There are three critical themes explored in Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore. The three themes are a myth, fate, and prophecy. The authors of these two novels have vividly presented these themes through actions of the characters like Kafka, Saleem, Amina, Shiva, and Nakata among others.

Additionally, the characters in the two books give a sense of reality that is; they represent day-to-day people in their circumstances. However, mysticism runs through the two novels and obviously, no characters are representative of any specific individuals in society. For instance, Shiva in the book by Salman tends to have mystical and prophetic powers, whereas, Saleem in the other novel has the potential to explore “people’s thoughts” (Rushdie et al 38). What binds the characters in both novels is their vulnerability because of identity crisis and thus their actions contribute to the development of the themes in the books.

By incorporating evidence from the two novels; Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, this paper compares and contrasts how the author’s distinct elements of myth, fate, and prophecy. Thus, the writer discusses the importance of the three themes and how they help us understand the characters in the books.

Comparison

In his book, Rushdie portrays Saleem as an individual who is preoccupied with the world of mystery trying to find solutions or answers to questions about his character and existence. Saleem, for instance, is disturbed because he sees no essence in marriages. In his view, he concedes that marriages are no longer stable and in often, cases are disrupted (Rushdie et al, 24). Thus, Amina, another character in Rushdie’s book, introduces an alternative dimension to the mystery that is life and finding meaning and sense. She regenerates her enduring love with Ahmed and Khan. Amina is perplexed by her strong feelings for two men and does not know how to handle and express the love she feels for both. Amina lives with the confusion until she dies tragically with her unborn child (Rushdie et al, 40).

The characters in Rushdie’s book encounter common problems i.e. identity, adultery, violence, and health among other problems. The same kinds of problems are evident in the novel by Murakami. Supernatural or philosophical forces perpetuate some of the mysterious problems while the characters themselves have brought some about. It is worth noting the problems experienced by the characters in the novel suggest current issues affecting present-day countries and in particular India (Rushdie et al 51). For example, in present-day India, there is certain chauvinism and most people tend to be distressed. Though most of these snags are affixed to the Indian condition, they are collective to social nature.

The theme of fate is visible through the unknown parental figures in both Rushdie’s and Murakami’s novels. In Rushdie’s novel, for instance, Saleem habitually refers to people as “his parents” (Rushdie et al 44). He tries to search for his parent’s background with no success. However, it can be argued that it is as if the “least” important characters in the novel are his real parents.

In Rudishie’s novel, the writer uses Saleem to draw the picture of “dilemma” in the novel (Rushdie et al 118). This is evident in the book when a clue suggests that Kafka and Satoru are unique, though representing the same individual as Sakura says “…. My heart thumps sporadically …. And my skin posses a weird feeling” (Murakami & Gabriel 341). Besides, a coincidence arises when Kafka meets Sakura, a naive woman on the bus as she alights. To her this sounds like a miracle, she sighs with relief that maybe she is his missing sister. Consequently, the cat, which causes the death of Johnnie Walker, is concealed as an evident account of Kafka’s father (Murakami 205). Mrs. Saeki, the library steward, appears to be the real mother of Kafka. The coincidences and paradoxical incidences in the two novels are prophetic interventions in the sense that they point to needed results.

Differences

Although Rushdie and Murakami’s novels center on similar themes, there are some differences in the setting of each book. First, the social network existing in the two novels draws the way male figures are prone to women in methods they relate as the novel affirms “… women were excluded in the definition of a citizen”(Murakami 151). Women characters play a significant role in the novel; therefore, the effects they pose on men cannot be underrated. Saleem feelings are attached to women but at the same time are prevented by them. His erratic insolences of women are particularly faithful to Jamila (Murakami & Gabriel 284). This is also evident in Haruki’s novel. This is seen when things progress as Kafka attends Takamatsu, a private library meeting Oshima who is a transsexual gay male.

Oshima introduces him to Mrs. Saeki, who is a puzzling but pretty woman; she was a popular singer when “she was a teenager” (Murakami & Gabriel 9). Mrs. Saeki is engulfed in an emotional conflict in her reflections. Therefore, this contributes to her endless sorrow for the “sensitive soul lover” she once had (Murakami & Gabriel 5). However, Tafika falls in love with Mrs. Saekis, who is his employer and older than his mother. Myth is an alternative binding past Indian culture to existing confusion of diverse humanities in India. Rushdie practices this myth to explain to the readers that history itself is sometimes imprecise.

The purpose of employing the use of imagination and fact helps in making a novel original while seizing the reader’s commitment. Unlike in Murakami’s Novel, the prophecy illustrated in Rushdie’s novel is embraced for entertainment purposes. Rushdie’s mystical and political elucidations are seen as perplexing the standing traditions of society.

Saleem and his grandfather’s spiritual philosophies are contemptuous of Islam. Saleem recognizes Islam because of his upbringing as he says “son of Hindu woman and the male heir of Muslim family”; His faith therefore makes him believe the reality of God is an intricate question as he says (Rushdie et al 136). Rushdie ostensibly places himself in his works and frames a cause to hope that Saleem is a parody of himself. His spiritual assessments of Islam are adverse. Saleem appears inclined in correcting some of the Islamic convention’s power while questioning its weight.

Rushdie urges distinctiveness and newness as contrasting to conventional and family unanimity. In the book, he commiserates with civilized Indian folks fairly than the conformist ones as he asserts “.. A big nosed child goes overseas and returns as a big Doctor Sahib…” (Rushdie et al 5) Shiva, as Saleem affirms is far more auspicious physically, but Saleem is relentlessly distressed with anticipation of a healthier prospect (Rushdie et al 62). Saleem embraces logic in solving his problems whereas Shiva practices his instinctive force. Through Rushdie, we understand there is an argument about the old and new when Ahmed is challenged to dispose his home to pave the way for a new and advanced development.

Acts of Saleem hiding in the clandestine from the external world and his family strengthen Rushdie’s views of eccentricity. This is because Saleem does not want to vintage to the external world and the standards of it. Saleem is assertive his son will competently learn and recognize faults and mistakes of past cohorts, in this approach Rushdie is strongly embracing change (Rushdie et al 136).

Nakata, a character in Murakami’s novel, call himself “dumb”’ quite a lot. He earns his living on government remuneration. Besides, he does an off duty of netting lost cats, which he can talk to. This is because he has a prophetic command. Nakata can clearly communicate to the cats. This is how he gets in trouble ending somehow entangled in Kafka’s life through an unfortunate encounter with Kafka’s very own sculpture father. Further, Kafka works hard under and a load of omen laid on him by his father.

His father is a prominent Tokyo sculptor (Murakami & Gabriel 203). He tells him that he intends to kill him and sleep with both her mother and sister (Murakami 94). The gift of this oedipal divination is predominantly imperious for Kafka noting the isolation situation his mother and sister did when he was still young and without optimism to embrace life challenges. Nakata is compelled by Kafka’s assuming the name of “Jack Daniels” into an attempt to pierce and kill him. To evade the investigation into his father’s death, Kafka moves to Oshima’s foothill hut and locates an “entrance to a semi-real hinter world” (Murakami 186).

Significance in Understanding the Texts and Characters

Rushdie in his book Midnight’s Children helps a reader to understand Indian and global politics reverberating in the lives of characters in the novel. As Saleem’s grandparents plummet in love, we remark the first instance where a significant incident in world antiquity relates to life hood episode of Saleem’s and his family. For instance, World War I unfolds on the day Aadam eventually sees Naseem’s face. Its is evident in the novel when he says “… in the moments of mayhems that engulfed the whack of midnight” (Rushdie et al 136) Rushdie associates the two occasions to symbolize techniques in which persons give their distinctive abilities in making sense of tremendous, presumed historic happenings (Rushdie 25).

Occasionally, unrestricted and private history recount in analogous but ostensibly differing ways. Aadam fails to recognize Naseem’s status because the war is over, destruction; however, we learn that, two major events remain connected as each announces a significant evolution “…. After several years the events are still virgin” (Rusdie et al 24). At times, conversely, unrestricted and private accounts transect unswervingly. For example, when Aadam contributes in the pro-independence rebellions and, unbelievably, succeed by escaping unhurt (Rushdie 125). The pro-independence rebellions are important for any nation, but they play a vital role in Saleem’s family. Aadam’s involvement offers a more bulging illustration of the imperative nature of noses as depicted in the Midnight Children.

The nous of a parentless child can equate in ways of how India fails to recognize existent sense of general identity because of prolonged colonial rule. A clear example is in 1947, during this time, India failed to understand real connotation of independence due to lengthened impact of British rule as affirmed by the book “…the day India pronounced its liberation” (Rushdie et al 136). Saleem emotions of having two unlike cliques of parents can be equated to India’s interested dual parentage. Further, Murakami’s tries to create a similar struggle happening to a teenage boy called Kafka.

Kafka’s story explains much mystery in it. He is a teen, highly charged with his age and energy. He is also unique and subject to stimulating and mysterious prospects. His attempts to escape from a wicked parent lead him to a place of mystery therefore; he comes under “caring an intuitive guardian” (Murakami 205). This makes him fall in love with an isolated and desolate beauty. Nakata’s story, in contrast, is spiritual i.e. He is a spiritual dupe, a simpleton who controls other worldly wit and a quiet, enduring pride. Kafka situation present a similar situation that most young people undergoes allover the world to fix their identity.

Conclusion

In the novels Salman Rushdie’s Midnight Children and Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore, the authors have extensively illustrated the significance of the three themes; myth, fate, prophecy, and how various characters strengthen it. The themes exuded through various characters in the novels helps the readers understand not only the texts but also wider issues in our present – day society.

Works Cited

Murakami, Haruki & Gabriel J. Philip. Kafka on the Shore. New York: Vintage International, 2006.

Murakami, Haruki. Kafka on the Shore. Singapore: Pustaka Alvabet, 2008.

Rushdie, Salman., Reade, Simon., & Supple, Tim. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. New York: Modern Library, 2003.

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