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Two Sides of The Same Coin

A paper presentation on Murakami Harukis After Dark By Elle de Pedro Section R31

Thesis Statement:
The use of alter egos is prevalent, as well as necessary, in the novel After Dark by Murakami Haruki. To define alter ego: (Latin, the other I) According to Merriam-Webster, a different version of yourself, a close friend who thinks or feels similarly to the way you think or feel, a second self as the opposite side of your personality or a counterpart. According to Cicero, a second self, a trusted friend.

Formalist Approach Psychoanalytical Approach

Comparisons with other novels that involve cases of alter egos

Studies/Researches that deal with the psychological aspect of alter egos

Eyes mark the shape of the city. Through the eyes of a high-flying night bird, we take in the scene from midair. In our broad sweep, the city looks like a single, gigantic creatureor more like a single, collective entity created by many intertwining organismsMidnight is approaching, and while the peak of activity has passed, the basal metabolism that maintains life continues undiminished, producing the basso continuo of the citys moan, a monotonous sound that neither rises nor falls but is pregnant with foreboding. Chapter 1

What we see now is a gigantic metropolis waking up. Commuter trains of many colors move in all directions, transporting people from place to place. Each of those under transport is a human being with a different face and mind, and at the same time each is a nameless part of a collective entityThe new sun pours new light on the city streets. Chapter 18

Eri and I once got trapped in the elevator of our building. The lights went out and we were in total darkness. There was nobody else on the elevator, just the two of us. I panicked, I completely stiffened up. But the important thing is that during the whole time in the dark, Eri was holding meI entrusted myself completely to her arms. The two of us became one: there were no gaps between us. We even shared a single heartbeat. That was the one moment in my life when I was able to draw closest to Eri, the one moment when she and I joined heart to heart as one: there was nothing separating us. After that, it seems, we grew farther and farther apart. We separated, and before long we were living in different worlds. Mari, Chapter 17

Day and Night are of different facets, but the world experiences them both, just on opposite sides. In the novel, Mari attempts to run away from home, choosing to delve into life at night. The events in the story talk about how she gets herself involved with her older sisters ex-classmate, a Chinese prostitute, and an ex-wrestler turned love hotel manager. In the morning after that eventful night, she goes back to how she was living: a nineteen-year old student who will be sent to study in Beijing. (Why was there a need for her to run away from home and create that second self?) Mari and Eri have also been described in the book having a moment where they became one, although they lead completely different lives. (Does this imply they as sisters are alter egos?)

Shirakawa himself identifies completely with the idea of an alter ego.

SO WHAT? Discussing the alter egos present in After Dark and why they are necessary can provide readers with thoughts about themselves having their own alter egos. Do I have an alter ego? If so, why? What are the reasons behind my having a second self?

e.g. Mari having her sister, Eri, as her alter ego may implicate that for some of us, our siblings reflect our second selves.


For some of the characters in After Dark, the use of an alter ego is necessary.