Haruki Murakami’s story “Barn Burning” illustrates one man’s encounter with an erratic woman and a seem to be arsonist that has a taste for barns. In this story the man from Africa is either a murderer or a truly horrible person that scared her off, once he lost that new and different appeal she liked. I lean toward the former in the way he described how the barn was calling to be burned. The narrator’s closeness to the girl is important here because he counters the man’s statement of the barn needing to be burned. His whole idea is that the barn is old and useless and it won’t hurt anyone, but this last barn is such that the narrator is the one affected by it, given that he rigorously searches for it after the man leaves. Thus it wasn’t harmless. He isn’t aware of the correlation though and continues to seek out the barn and the girl. This leading to the dual existence matter in which he is trying to seek out the literal object that hasn’t been burned and inside his mind seeks out the figurative object, the girl that he misses, that has been removed from his life. If Hemingway writes using the iceberg method, where the bulk of the meaning is submerged beneath the surface, Murakami writes using the UFO method, where the story is weird and fascinating, but probably just an illusion. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Lots of people spend their lives obsessing over UFOs. I am however not one of those people a find stories with no meaning or at least double meaning a bore and quite a burden to push through. I’d even go so far as to say that Murakami’s lack of depth is one of the reasons he’s so popular, because some people just find bad stories good. This is where I believe the story has room to “improve,” and not to judge his work definitively because after all, people buy his stuff, not mine. I believe a proper ending would give the story deeper thought as connections could be made rather than just leaving stagnate pieces of text for the reader to decipher.
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The ending was where the text stopped, not where the story should have been wrapped up in this story and while logically that makes sense it rather makes for a boring and unimaginative piece of literature, and not worth my time. If we examine the man from Africa he is either a very abstract person or a murder. I like to not take this story over to a glum and doom tear jerker, so he will be abstract. That quality is the only one I will personally determine because Murakami did a wonderful job crafting the characters. My continuation will replace the lines “At that, I gave up. This was one year ago.” And the lines that follow. The narrator will continue his life for about 3 months and will find himself on a vacation to Morocco and see the mysterious girl again.
Murakami’s characters are similarly vague. The narrator is usually a detached middle-class everyman thrust into an unusual situation. We might find out about some of their daily habits or quirks, but we never have a clear idea of their motivations or limitations, or any of the other things that make it easier to connect with a character is like. Whenever they’re faced with some strange occurrence, they usually just shrug their shoulders and deal with it in their own private way. And most of the time, these ciphers serve perfectly well for the purposes of the story.
About 3 months later my mind wondered again as to what happened to the young woman whom I had met at that wedding party. My mind tried to focus on work but I couldn’t my life was missing that essence of random and surprise I had when I was around her. It was suggested that I take a vacation to let loose and relax, but I felt I couldn’t without her. In addition to that I had realized that man might have been playing a trick on me. None of the barns had burned down but I still jogged the same rout I had planned out, looking, hoping.
I finally decided that it was time I go somewhere and I had decided that I wanted to go some place warm but not an exotic beach. I finally came to the conclusion that I wanted to go to Morocco and tour the coastal region. Casablanca seemed like a good place to start a vacation so I booked a round trip flight that left Wednesday morning.
I arrived just in time to watch a beautiful sunset that seemed to hang about on the horizon. I immediately began looking for a hotel that would be a convenient hub for any day trips. The Razada met this requirement plus had a nice view of the city below. I checked in and felt exhausted so as soon as I set my stuff down in the room I dozed off.
When I awoke it was 9:00 pm and I felt famished. The lobby recommended a café two blocks over so I decided to try it out. As soon as I walked in I saw her that girl I had sought after for three months appeared suddenly while I was on vacation.
I immediately rushed over to her and gave her a hug. After a half hour of dialogue I was filled in on her three months. After that evening the with the barn burner she had decided to tour North Africa and was enjoying herself quite thoroughly. She told me that she hadn’t seen him since but figured it was because she was away. We then proceeded to talk about current events and anything of interest. At that point I felt as relaxed as I had when I first met her, and I had found the peace I was looking for.
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