The Elephant Vanishes Sparknotes

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Before the modern era, many inhabitants of small societies were heavily restricted and limited by the traditions developed from centuries before. While these traditions became outdated, a new wave of modernism and progression began to sweep across the world. Modernism embodied the ideals of breaking away from tradition, especially through the adoption of urbanization and social liberalism. In The Elephant Vanishes, a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami, the protagonists in each story explore their role within this changing society, whether it be submission to modernism or stubbornness and fear of progression. Especially in “The Elephant Vanishes” and “The Green Monster”, themes of restraint and limitation based in tradition are prevalent…show more content…
While her husband goes to work every day, the female protagonist is unsure of what to do. Murakami uses certain diction and syntax through this story to emulate a lack of identity and a necessity for fulfillment prevalent in the female. The protagonist writes that she “couldn’t think of anything to do” and that “there was nothing else for me to do,” (152). While her husband is working the capitalist free market to provide for the family, the wife is restrained to the domestic realm, essentially becoming an object of the household. The characterization of this female embodies the ideals of traditional gender roles in this Japanese society. When the green monster is introduced in the story, the tree in the yard “began to bulge upward” and “the ground broke open…to reveal a set of sharp claws,” (153). Portrayed as a savage beast rising from beneath the Earth, the green becomes a symbol of the female’s fear of her experience with traditional gender roles and the restrictions imposed on her by Japanese society. While struggling to survive in the domestic realm, she is forced to challenge her fear of only being an object of the marriage and household, and seemingly indispensable to the surrounding society. Especially when the green monster begins to migrate toward the household, the female says, “I couldn’t run out the back door either,…show more content…
She says, “I wasn’t afraid of the monster anymore. I painted pictures in my mind of all the cruel things I wanted to do to it…With each new torture I imagined for it, the monster would lurch and writhe and wail in agony,” (155). Through her imagination of using violence to defeat the monster, she loses her fear and gains rationality. With the loss of her fear, she realizes that she is in power over the gender roles, essentially becoming empowered to change the tradition and progress toward modernism. By rejecting the traditional gender roles, her diction and syntax becomes much more fantastical. Prevalent by her description of the defeat of the green monster, she says, “It wept its colored tears and oozed thick globs of liquid onto the floor, emitting a gray vapor from its ears that had the fragrance of roses,” (155). The female’s use of a poetic tone and writing with seemingly complex syntax, it becomes evident how the female used the fantastical to confront her fear, as opposed to her restriction and limits. She finally establishes herself as the dominant female when she exclaims, “See, then, you little monster, you have no idea what a woman is. There’s no end to the number of things I can think of to do to you,” (156). By using the fantastical element of her imagination, she manipulates her fear into
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