Assignment: Write a 3-4 page paper (not including the Works Cited page) that explores and answers one of the questions below. Format the paper according to MLA standards, including the correct header, pagination, an original title, and be sure it is double-spaced. Include a Works Cited page and bring in at least one outside source other than the novel. Be sure your thesis statement answers the question you have chosen and/or makes a statement about the issue you have chosen to discuss. This assignment is a kind of “close reading” that asks you to look deeply at a topic or situation in the novel. Do not reiterate the plot in your paper. Your audience is fully aware of the storyline, however, be sure to use evidence from the text in the form of quotes and paraphrases to advance your argument.
Due: Sunday, July 26 by 11:59 pm
1. Consider the first two chapters of the book. In the first chapter, the narrator is stuck in an elevator. In the second chapter, the beasts and the coming of autumn are described. Compare and contrast the tone of both of these chapters.
2. Being as specific as you can, explain the Tokyo narrator’s perception of reality as events unfold at the beginning of the book. Did the narrator’s reaction to what is happening assist in your suspension of disbelief? Why or why not?
3. Explain what the Townspeople, the shadow and the Professor say about the beasts and use these varying viewpoints to explain the role unicorns play in the novel as a whole.
4. Describe the author’s attention to the physical needs of the characters in each storyline and explain how Murakami’s depictions add to the overall effect of the story.
5. Explain how “shuffling” is done and the significance of this process for the novel’s exploration of consciousness.
6. Write a detailed characterization of Murakami’s use of literary and musical references, describing his choice of usage and explaining how these choices add to the development of the characters.
7. Explain how the phrase “the End of the World” is used to link the two storylines together and explain what the end of the world really is.
8. Describe the Town and explain how Murakami’s characterization of this place relates to the overall theme of the mind.
9. Describe the Tokyo narrator’s escapist tendencies, giving several concrete examples.
10. Describe what happens when the Tokyo narrator remembers his shadow on the movie screen while underground and explain the significance of this event has for the narrator.
11. Using the death of the beasts, the death of shadows and the prospect of the Tokyo narrator’s own death as examples, explain how Murakami presents the theme of mortality in the novel.
12. Name some elements of the “archetypal journey” and explain how the “Hard-Boiled Wonderland” narrator’s passage through the Tokyo underground was an archetypal journey.
13. Explain some of the main characteristics of existentialist literature and describe how Murakami’s novel is similar.
14. Give a detailed description of the Hard-Boiled Wonderland narrator’s personality and explain how he changes throughout the novel.
15. In Chapter 37, the narrator says he was born by the sea and liked to collect things washed on shore by the typhoon. He says his life has always been about “gathering up the junk, sorting through it, and then casting it off somewhere else. All for no purpose…”. Explain how the narrator’s current life is this way and draw parallels between this and the people in the Town.
16. Describe what the narrator refers to in Chapter 35 as “despair”, “disillusionment” and “hell” and explain why he says he’s unable to create a better life for himself.
17. Explain how the Dreamreader finds out that the Librarian still has traces of mind and the significance this has for his own life.
18. Describe the video game the Tokyo narrator plays while waiting for his date with the librarian and draw parallels to his own situation.
19. Consider the fact that the narrator in Chapter 37 says that he’s never done anything of his own free will. Plead for or against the truth of this statement by contrasting it with the choices the narrator makes about his own life leading up to the end of the novel.
20. Giving specific details from the story, explain how Murakami leaves the novel somewhat open-ended and explain what you think might have happened to each of the narrators.
21. Define magical realism and decide whether or not this novel falls into that category
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