Memories are mysterious elements. Sometimes they camouflage as contemplations, intuitions, emotions, feelings, visions or images, etc. without unleashing themselves as memories. Sometimes they enter into the mind and seem proportionately meaningless while other times they overwhelm consciousness and through us back into an animated remembered past event. They appear into consciousness from someplace else and give us a halt for contemplation. According to Sigmund Freud, Memories are associated with symbols, objects, songs, fragrant, etc. Since Haruki Murakami’s popular novel Norwegian Wood is basically about youth, it is saturated with memories.
The novel starts with a flashback where 37 years old Toru is reminiscing about his dead bosom friends, Naoko and Kizuki, after abruptly getting struck by a song called Norwegian Wood by The Beatles, which is playing on the plane that landed on Hamburg airport, Germany. That very name of the song is the name of the novel and so, apparently, that song contains significant semblance with the central theme of the novel.
The musical piece “Norwegian Wood” has a connection between Toru, Naoko, and Kizuki’s childhood experiences since they played the song several times when they were students. So, this is a common song with which memories of Naoko and Kizuki are associated. Two layers of connections between the song and the core theme of the novel can be extracted: one is the direct connection that is the song was played several times in their friendly sphere when they were young and the other connection is related to the meaning that the song contains and the theme of the novel.
The song conveys an intense desire for sex. In the song, the girl invites the protagonist to her room in which the wall panel was made out of Norwegian wood. After getting the man’s hope as high as she could, she shatters the hope by saying she has work tomorrow and so, the man of the story of the song has to sleep in the bathtub instead. In the morning, he wakes up only to find out she is gone (“this bird had flown”). In the end, he ignites a fire, implicitly connoting an act of arson and observing how well her Norwegian wood-made room burns.
In Norwegian Wood, Toru gets very close to Naoko when Kizuki, Naoko’s boyfriend, committed suicide. For Naoko, Toru is the only connection between her and Kizuki. On the other hand, Toru gradually falls in love with Naoko whom in the end he lost as she commits suicide. Even Naoko invites Toru to have intercourse with her but, she does not show any affection towards him while having intercourse with Toru only to experience more pain than to surpass the circumference of the teenage period whereas Toru infused an intense emotion while making love with her. So, that happens to be a one-sided attraction that only ends up in separation. Likewise, the girl in the song invites the protagonist but does not fulfill his desire in the end. So, sense of loss is the common element between the song and the novel.
The whole novel is saturated with the references of songs which have endorse the themes of the novel.