ENG 170w – Annotated Paragraph

Junpei did not understand why Takatsuki had any interest in befriending him. Junpei was the kind of person who liked to sit alone in his room reading books or listening to music, and he was terrible at sports. Awkward with strangers, he rarely made friends. Still, for whatever reason, Takatsuki seemed to have decided the first time he saw Junpei in class that he was going to make him a friend. He tapped Junpei on the shoulder and said, “Hey, let’s get something to eat.” And by the end of the day they had opened their hearts to each other.

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We see that Junpei has doubts as to why Takatsuki wants to befriend him. Junpei doesn’t believe he makes a good friend and all the doubt and anxiety in this paragraph mirrors Junpei’s perception of himself. When he describes activities he enjoys, it is important to note that those are solitary activities and he stays in his room alone to read or listen to music. Junpei is portrayed as a very shy person and doesn’t like to be in the center of attention—and sports/athletic activities would put him in that center. Athletic activities usually require teamwork and that is a lot of social pressure too because the team is relying on you to function as an effective element and the team is only as strong as its weakest member. Perhaps Junpei avoids athletic activities because there is too much pressure on him to perform and also because he doesn’t have the confidence in himself that would allow him to be successful in a team. The job he chooses for himself as a career too–an author–is a pretty solitary endeavor also and we can infer that Junpei hasn’t changed much in terms of his personality growing up after college.

It is important that the word “tapped” was used rather than another more aggressive verb. Takatsuki was successful in making Junpei a friend because he approached Junpei in a very peaceful, non-confrontational way. Takatsuki casually uses “Hey” and “let’s” to address Junpei, and takes control of the conversation right away—but in a gentle manner. He doesn’t leave room for Junpei to say no politely and decline his offer.

This is indicative of the way both Junpei and Takatsuki interact with one another and with Sayoko throughout the story. Takatsuki announces his feelings for Sayoko before Junpei does and doesn’t take charge of what he wants until near the end of the story. Perhaps Junpei’s reactions stem from his lack of confidence in himself and he, too, realizes how his passive behavior has affected him and his relationships and muses on it. Takatsuki is almost a polar opposite of Junpei–where Takatsuki is goal-oriented, unafraid, socialable, and confident, Junpei falls behind in attaining what he wants because he doesn’t have that volition to disturb the waters (almost like Prufrock in T.S. Eliot’s poem).

A lot of the adjectives used to describe Junpei and his interests during this paragraph are largely negative—and rather than reflect Murakami’s views, it seems that Junpei is the one dictating that image of himself. Junpei is the subject of the sentences and the one who doesn’t understand why Takatsuki would be interested in him. He is also makes the judgment that he’s “terrible” at sports, “rarely” establishes friendships, and is “awkward.” It seems when someone shows interest in him, he buffers that with negative perceptions of himself. The “still, for whatever reason,” shows that Junpei is still confused that in spite of these qualities, Takatsuki still wants to befriend him and is drawn to him.

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