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Symbolism in The Elephant Vanishes

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Symbolism in 'The Elephant Vanishes' The Second Bakery Attack: The main symbol in 'The Second Bakery Attack' is the concept of the "tremendous, overpowering hunger pangs", and what they represented to the protagonists in the novel and Japanese society as a whole. For me, I feel as though the hunger was more than a physical hunger for food, but a yearning for something, for example change in the way that society is run, connected to the fact that instead of anything violent happening during the first bakery attack, they were told to listen to Wagner. This suggests that something is not right, and that the choices that people make are somewhat disillusioned by Western culture, in comparison to Japanese culture. In addition to this, the hunger represents the feeling of emptiness that the protagonist and his wife feel, possibly in the lack of communication between them, where they are not used to living with each other and such, therefore suggesting that Japanese people are too individualistic, and should learn to communicate with one another better in order to sustain a good standard of living, and finding ...read more.


As the lederhosen is a typical German outfit, and could not possibly be confused with any other country, it is obvious that it is from Western culture, and thus the fact that it is this that has made the woman realize how much she hates her husband could suggest the power of the Western culture over Japanese people. This could also be connected to the bigger picture of Western culture as a whole, where Murakami points out that it is something that the Japanese people should strive towards. However, in addition to this, it seems quite ridiculous that something like lederhosen could be so powerful that a seemingly normal relationship could deteriorate so quickly over, therefore Murakami could also be suggesting to us as reader that we need to find a balance in accepting new Western cultures and way of lives, however also keeping to traditional Japanese values such as family and love within significant others. The Little Green Monster: I think in 'The Little Green Monster', the biggest symbolism is the actual monster, as it seems a very unrealistic thing to be real, therefore I feel as though it has the biggest representation in the story. ...read more.


It is a common expression to say that there is an "elephant in the room", which suggests an awkwardness or dissatisfaction with current situations. This in itself could already show Murakami's call for change in the way that Japanese people live their lives, as well as connect to the aspect of Karoshi and overworking. Furthermore, the elephant signifies Japanese tradition, where people did not have the heart to get rid of it, but felt as though it should still be a part of their community, even though they did not particularly want it, showing an obligation to uphold traditions rather than a liking for it. When the elephant shrunk and disappeared, this suggested one extreme to another, of traditional Japan to post-modern Japan. The fact that the protagonist kept articles of it showed that he wanted to try and find meaning of the loss of these traditional values however could not. This shows the loss of people in responding to new challenges, thereby connecting to the roboticness of Japanese people, where they prefer to follow a set of rules, such as regulations in society or step-by-step rules in work, rather than think for themselves. ...read more.

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