All people have something that they fear and when it’s not faced, it can become a part of their lives. The narrator of “The Seventh Man” by Haruki Murakami shares a story about a tragedy that changed his life. When he was 10 years old, his friend, K, died and he blamed himself.
He couldn’t live with the guilt and feared his life, so he moved away, but fear followed wherever he went. His fear became a part of his life and handicapped him from living a ‘normal’ life. After 40 years, he faced his fear and it brought him relief and happiness. Characterization, conflict, and resolution all contribute to the theme of fear in “The Seventh Man”.
Characterization helps develop a theme of fear by making the seventh man feel guilty about a tragedy that happened to him as a child. The narrator shows his guilt by saying, “But I knew the truth. I knew that I could have saved K if I had tried” (Murakami 365).
The seventh man feels guilty for K’s death because he believes that he could have done something to save him, but he was so scared that he was almost in shock. He is drowned in guilt and prohibited him from fully recovering after the tragedy.
The guilt was so overpowering that by “the end of the year the seventh man had pleaded with his parents to let him move to another town” (Murakami 366). The seventh man has grown a fear of guilt which prevented him from moving on with his life. He is haunted by K’s death and runs away from his fear. His fear causes him to feel extreme guilt and pushes him away from his hometown. Fear is becoming a part of his life.
Fear took control of the seventh man’s life which is one of the main conflicts in the short story, “The Seventh Man”. Fear is almost like an addiction; the seventh man can’t control it just like when people are addicted to drugs. The seventh man says, “That is probably why I never married. I didn’t want to wake someone sleeping next to me with my screams in the middle of the night” (Murakami 366).
He moved to get away from the tragic memories, but he would have nightmares every once in a while. They were about what happened to K, but it was so vivid and detailed that he would wake up terrified. The nightmares hindered him from getting married and starting his own family. Fear also kept him from doing fun, normal activities: “… but after that day I never even went to swim in a pool.
I wouldn’t go near deep rivers or lakes. I avoided boats and wouldn’t take a plane to go abroad” (Murakami 366). The seventh man was scared that what happened to K would happen to him as a type of revenge, so he kept his distance. Fear had taken control of his life and withheld him from living a normal life. He had lived with his fear for 40 years and it was time for him to get over it.
The seventh man let fear ruin most of his life and then one day while looking at some of K’s old paintings, he decided that it was time to face it. He traveled back to his hometown and went down to the beach where the incident. When he got there “he realized that the deep darkness inside him had vanished” (Murakami 369).
He had traveled to a place that had caused him so much pain and that he feared so much. Because he got the courage to face his fear, he was able to defeat his fear. After, he shared, “I stopped having my terrible nightmares. I no longer wake up screaming in the middle of the night. And I am trying now to start my life over again” (Murakami 369).
The seventh man was able to live a normal-ish life, now that he faced his fear. He knows that he doesn’t have long, but he can still make the most of it. The seventh man was able to recover from a tragedy that kept him from living his life.
Characterization, conflict, and resolution play an important role in developing the theme; your fears won’t disappear on their own, they need to be faced. Characterization showed how the seventh man felt guilty and procrastinated in confronting his fear.
Conflict showed how fear was like an addiction to him and took 40 years away from him. The resolution showed how he was relieved and looking forward to the future after he faced his fear. Fear can cause a lot of pain, therefore, it must be faced.