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In each Seventh man and Quiet Please pain and grief are seen to take a central stage and individual’s response seem to influence his or her life significantly. It is evident that the librarian was avoiding dealing with the reality of her father’s death and sought other unrelated approaches of dealing with her pain like sex. The seventh man on the other hand, following the death of his pal K at the beach, he sought all ways possible to avoid dealing with the actual issue including relocating from his parent’s home to stay in a different town altogether. The similarity in coping with pain is viewed in guilt and blame, suppression of emotions of pain and finally going through the ordeal. Eventually, both stories reveal the only way of dealing with fear or anxiety is to face it as opposed to avoidance.
In the ‘seventh man,' the seventh man when he recovers physically from the neurological damage and high fever with the certainty of his friend’s death, he took the blame. Although K’s parents had not chided him their son’s death and his parents had avoided discussing the matter in his presence, the reality that he would have saved his friend lingered in his mind. The seventh man states in a flashback
‘But I knew the truth. I knew that I could have saved K. if I had tried (p.6).’
Apparently, the seventh man states that the pain would have been less if K’s parents blamed him for taking their son to the shore and if people were less careful about talking about what happened that day. Seemingly, this would just be a way of dealing with the insurmountable pain he felt as he handled his grief.
The librarian’s response in Quiet Please also presents a situation of blaming herself when she realized of her father’s death. She suggested that she had killed her father many times in her fantasy and was not sure it was not her mind playing its games again. The reason she had wished her father was dead many times was that she had never experienced the pain of losing a parent no matter the situation and when it happened, she is overwhelmed by the pain of the irreversible condition. It is possible this guilt emanates from the fact that in her wishing her father dead, she failed to enjoy his company and create time for him since according to her she was better off dead.
The seventh man sought ways of dealing with the friend’s loss through suppression of emotions and running away from reality. In fact, he wasted a whole forty years avoiding reconciliation and acceptance of the reality of K’s death. This avoidance started by failing to go to school for weeks because that would always remind him of K. Soon after that he asked his parents to move to Nagano, in his father’s family. The seventh man would not bring himself to visit his parents, and the parents had to organize visiting him. The impact of this suppression was fear and guarded relationship with women such that even in his mid-fifties he was unmarried. The seventh man notes
‘This 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 (p. 7).’
The librarian in knowing of her father’s death instead of facing that reality and maybe crying or screaming she resulted in the one-shot stand with different men in the library. The librarian’s response and wildness in sex are because of the suppressed emotions. Bender notes
She doesn't want him to see her face because it is blowing up inside, red and furious, (p.1).
She is seeking all ways possible to deal with her grief but by keeping her mind busy with other things apart from the death. That day, she notices there are many good-looking men everywhere in the library as opposed to other days. She also recognizes the fair mural on the ceiling and realizes a missing tooth on one of the fairies.
Amazingly, the seventh man finds a solution to his nightmares and pain through a seemingly simple action by his elder brother who sent pictures and paintings done by K to the seventh man. The paintings evoked the old terror causing the seventh man to keep them away. However, a few days later, he took a bold step that would change his life of a hard and long look at K’s watercolors. As he looked at the landscapes, sand beaches, ocean pictures, the seventh man realized these pictures presented high skill and gave warm memories. Eventually, through the watercolors, he was able to get back at the beach that K perished and reconcile with the reality and be ready to start a fresh life though it would not be so long.
The librarian’s solution was not found in the sexual encounters she had but by the bold step of muscleman who denied her sex but gave her something substantial to address her pain. The flying books and the lifted up posture all seem therapeutic coupled with her experience with the fairy murals. She gets to touch the fairy with no mouth and paints a mouth only to recognize later that the mouth is screaming not smiling maybe a symbol of her situation. The next day, her mind is in a better state, and she can go to her father’s burial.
In conclusion, from the seventh man and Quiet Please, the similarity that is seen is the progression of events when a loss occurs. The seventh man and the librarian both exhibit blame and guilt in the occurrence of death, followed by suppression of emotions through unsustainable means and eventually a means to face the loss through the intervention of another person. The truth that stands out is that pain or fear cannot go away through suppression but through facing such harsh realities.
Bender, Aimee. Quiet Please. 1998.
Haruki, Murakami. The Seventh Man. (1996)
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