Men Without Women: Stories Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 51 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Men Without Women.
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Men Without Women: Stories Summary & Study Guide Description

Men Without Women: Stories Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Quotes and a Free Quiz on Men Without Women: Stories by Haruki Murakami.

The following version of this book was used to create this study guide: Murakami, Haruki. Men Without Women. New York: Penguin Random House, 2017. Print.

The first story in Murakami’s collection is “Drive My Car.” This story is about a stage actor, Kafuku, who hired a strange, ugly young girl named Misaki to be his chauffeur. He had not had a woman in his car since his wife had died, and having Misaki drive him around town made him think of his wife more often than usual. As Kafuku slowly began to become comfortable with Misaki, he started to open up to her about his past. He was married to an actress who died of ovarian cancer. He had always known about her affairs, but he had never confronted her about them or asked why she had done it. After she died, however, he became obsessed with the reasons behind her infidelity, so much so that he befriended the last lover, Takatsuki, she had before getting sick. Kafuku and Takatsuki became drinking pals, but Kafuku never found out why his wife had slept with him. Misaki suggested that Kafuku’s wife had slept with Takatsuki for reasons of her own that had nothing to do with Kafuku.

The next story, “Yesterday,” is narrated by Tanimura. Tanimura had worked in a college coffee shop in college, and while he was there he had met his friend Kitaru. Kitaru had been a strange boy who had failed the entrance exam into college twice and so was unable to take his girlfriend, Erika, out on dates. One day he asked Tanimura to take her out so that she would not go out with anyone else, and Tanimura did as asked. He found out that she was already seeing someone, but did not tell Kitaru. A few days later, Kitaru quit the coffee shop and disappeared. Sixteen years later, Tanimura ran into Erika and found out that she had slept with the other boy and Kitaru had found out. He was now travelling the world and working as a sushi chef, and she was a single career girl.

“An Independent Organ” is also narrated by a character named Tanimura, though it is not clear if it is the same narrator. Tanimura said that he once knew a successful plastic surgeon, Dr. Tokai, with a perfect life who had been a bachelor until he was fifty-two years old. One day, Tokai came to the gym where he worked out with Tanimura and said that he had fallen in love for the first time with a married woman who had a son. They had been dating for almost two years, and Tokai could not suppress his love for her, but she would not leave her husband. He felt that he did not know who he was anymore. Tanimura never sees Tokai again, but Tokai’s secretary, Goto, calls him and tells him that Tokai had starved himself to death after he found out that the woman he loved had left her husband for another man.

“Scheherazade” is about a man named Habara who was hiding out for some mysterious reason. The only contact he had with the world was with a woman he called Scheherazade who came to deliver supplies to him once a week. She also had sex with him and told him stories afterward. One day she told him that she had been a lamprey eel in the past. The next time she came, she told him that she had broken into a house when she was in high school. She had a crush on a boy who ignored her, so she cut class and snuck into his house three times before his mother realized what was happening and switched the locks.

“Kino” is about a man of the same name who left his job as a travelling sports shoe salesman after he found his wife having sex with one of his colleagues. Kino opened a bar in a property his aunt gave him. At first his only customer was a cat, but soon people started to come in, including a mysterious man named Kamita who always ordered the same drink and a woman in an abusive relationship who seduced Kino one night. Soon after that, snakes began to appear all over Kino’s property and Kamita came into the bar and told Kino that he needed to leave town. Kino did as he was told, but he could not refrain from sending a message to his aunt. That night, something knocked at the door of his hotel room, and then the window. Kino his under the blankets until he realized that it was his own repressed emotions coming for him.

“Samsa in Love” is a play on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. In Murakami’s story, a bug woke up to discover he had changed into Gregor Samsa. Samsa slowly went through the painful and awkward process of becoming human. Once all his physical needs were met, a hunchback woman showed up at his house to fix a lock and he fell in love with her. He asked to see her again, and she agreed.

“Men Without Women” is the last story in the collection. The unnamed narrator, who was sleeping in bed with his wife, learned that his former girlfriend had killed herself. The news prompts him to reflect on the woman, who he called M. She was not his first love, but someone he wished was his first love. The narrator reflects that sometimes the loss of one woman means the loss of all women, thus giving the thesis of the collection.

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