Postmodern Surrealism In Murakami's, Second Bakery Attack

1789 words - 7 pages

Postmodern Surrealism in the Second Bakery Attack

Since its establishment, surrealist media has been able to capture our attention with its abstract thought provoking nature. It began with literature and spread to all other forms of expression across the globe. Although it had gained such renown, it wasn’t until The Second Bakery Attack was released in a collection of short stories by Haruki Murakami that surrealist literature arrived in Japan. The Second Bakery Attack stood out above all other literary releases of its time, receiving universally positive reviews and revolutionizing the way Japan viewed literature. The story is set in modern times, revolving around a newlywed couple who awake one night with a strange and powerful hunger. The narrator is the husband, speaking in the first person, he dictates his thoughts on the events as they unfold. The couple soon set out on a mission to rob a bakery in order to break their “curse” of hunger. Throughout the story, strange situations arise, which the husband convinces himself are normal aspects of married life. In order to clarify the husband’s feeling towards his wife, Murakami uses a vivid, metaphoric image of a volcano beneath the sea. By using a unique and original postmodern surrealist style and descriptive imagery in the short story The Second Bakery Attack, Haruki Murakami was able to give birth to a new era of surrealist literature in Japan. This originality served to break away from the realism of the traditional Japanese I-novel and appeal to the Japanese people of the time who desired literature with more of a western approach.
By only giving the main characters of the story an understanding of their strange behavior, Murakami broke away from the conventions of standard surrealist pieces. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world”(Encyclopedia Britannica). This means that all characters used in a surrealist piece of literature would be unaware of their strange behavior, similar to the way our minds rationalize our behavior in our dreams. Murakami then diverged from this common stereotype of surrealist literature by giving only the main characters a comfort with their strange thoughts and actions, leaving all secondary characters bewildered. This adjustment is made clear by the McDonalds worker’s reaction to the idea of robbing a bakery. As the couple robs the McDonalds of their hamburgers in order to relieve themselves of their accursed hunger, the girl behind the counter asks, “Why do you have to do this?... Why don't you just take the money and buy something you like? What's the good of eating thirty Big Macs?"(Murakami). The wife then responds, "We're sorry, really. But there weren't any bakeries open. If there had been, we would have attacked a bakery"(Murakami). The wife’s nonsensical response to...

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