Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sleep

In this week's issue of The New Yorker (the summer fiction issue) I read an essay by Haruki Murakami about his start as a writer and his parallel life as a runner. The essay was lovely and 
informative and I'm happy to have read it. But even though I was inspired, I was also envious, a feeling I rarely experience. 

Murakami never wanted to be a writer. He was operating a successful Jazz club in Tokyo in his late 20s when, at a baseball game, he thought to himself, I'll write a novel. He submitted his only copy of the novel, which he hand-wrote in half a year, to a literary competition. Forgot all about it. And won.  How could he have possibly sent his only copy? How could he have forgotten about it? He is one of the most successful contemporary writers and when he began to write, it had meant nothing to him. 

Despite my envy, I continue to love his work. The sparse strangeness, the curious events, the unreal reality, the quirky playfulness and all of the other elements of his work that are truly unique to Murakami, enthrall me. His stories and novels are always challenging and entertaining. However, he is not a writer who's sentences I like to pull out and highlight. (I often wonder how much of this has to do with various translators. For example there is noticeable difference between the translation of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, which is lovely on every level and Kafka on the Shore, which didn't have the same fluidity). It's the work as a whole and always its magic that stands out. 

Sleep is a longish (35 pages) story in The Elephant Vanishes, his first collection of short stories. Murakami often writes strong, interesting women. Even though sometimes he assigns them stereotypical roles, such as prostitutes and emotional wrecks, they are always fighting something and struggling to survive. They are multi-dimensional, and usually smarter than the men. Though of course, there are plenty of victims, as well. 

In Sleep, Murakami writes from the perspective of a 30-year-old housewife with insomnia. The story begins on her 17th day without sleep and backtracks to the beginning of how it started. She recalls a period in college during which she experienced a month without sleep and tells of how life was when she could sleep. 

Prior to the Insomnia everything was normal. There were routines. She always said the same things to her husband and son and they always replied with the same answers. She cooked and cleaned and ate and swam and spent each day, filling hours full of nothing until night.  

When the insomnia kicks in, the narrator begins to spend her nights reading, drinking and eating chocolate. Things she hasn't done in years. No one notices that she hasn't slept. No one notices anything. 

The interesting aspect of this story, is that after a while, the reader begins to wonder who is really awake. Is it the narrator who is finally experiencing emotions she hasn't previously felt or everyone else who goes through their day, through their routines without noticing a thing. 

The story skirts around life and death, wakefulness and sleeplessness. Murakami's magic and the perfection of his craft come through in that he is able to say one thing, to tell a linear story (for the most part) and have the reader completely flipped upside down by the end. 

108 comments:

midomenech said...

Can we really say that the woman in "Sleep" suffers from insomnia? My reading of this story is that it is at night that she claims a space and time to reaffirm, reassert, and redefine her identity as a woman. She is "awake" to herself when the world "sleeps". The daily routine acts an impairment in her life, which ultimately leads to insanity when the woman at day and the one at night fail to reconcile.

moppenheimer said...

Murakami's "Sleep" symbolizes the duality of the soul and how one of these facets could not reconcile with the expected face to society which the speaker portrays as routinary. The speaker's loss of sleep implies her breaking of the conventions expected of a human being. It is interesting that she acknowledges this and postumately questions the concept of normality. Through her "loss" she actually gained her independence. Moreover, by rejecting sleep, which symbolizes the repairing of parts, the speaker embraces her body and defects in order to create her own space. Finally, in her insanity her voice is finally acknowledged by herself; from the silenced yell of the bedroom to the entertainment of knowledge, we can truly see how healthy her insanity truly is.

LauTorres said...

The woman in "Sleep" seems to suffer not from insomnia, but from an unconscious refusal to succumb to the routine, to the tendencies she lived from day to day. Although she no longer sleeps, she feels revitalized, full of energy and is doing with her days what she pleases; she is more awake than ever. At first it frightened her but when she realizes this she becomes determined not to sleep, although she knows it may cost her her sanity. Sleep becomes to her something like the enemy, that "periodic repairing of the parts of me that are being worn away" and she decides she doesnt need it anymore. The rest of her descriptions seem to be no more than trails of thought, her mind is completely elsewhere no longer concentrated on her family and on her duties but what satisfies HER, as a person, and as a woman. Unfortunately this new state of mind makes her confuse illusion and reality, ultimately leading us to wonder if what she is experimenting is real or simply in her mind.

lloveras#21 said...

I believe that the woman in "Sleep" does not really suffer from insomnia. I believe that she has become tired of her boring daily rutine of her life. By not sleeping, she was able to claim ner own space and in a way liberate herself. She was able to do all the things that her husband did not approve of. During the night, she created an alternate reality. In this alternate reality she was who she really wanted to be. She got so involved in this alternate reality that at the end she could not distinguish what was real and what was fantasy.

sboeras said...

Through Murakami’s “Sleep” we see the duality of the self. How women are expected to respond in acordance to the rules establish by society. Rules that make them live in a routine, entrapping them in an uncouncios state of being. Moreover, my appreciation of the story makes me understand how the protagonist is the representation of those females that are affected by social roles establish by society. Her boring routine make her acknowledge the truth within herself, enableling her to understand her needs and desires as a woman. The speaker symbolizes the need of every woman to attain a space and to raise their voice in society. Humanity should understand woman’s neccesities in order for them to obtain, much easier, the space they claim desperately. Finally, we can see how the “insanity” caused by her “insomnia” was that open door that made her realized what she truly wanted and needed in life. This was a way of making her noticed and appreciate how valuable she is.

lincy ♥ said...

I think that the woman in "Sleep" doesn't suffer from insomnia, she uses that time at night to find herself. It is the only time she actually has to read and to do things for herself instead of working at her household. She feels enslaved by her daily routine and wants to get out of it, its like her other self. It is at night when she has the time to truly find herself. Even if she doesn't sleep, if that is the only way for her to truly understand her role and her personality, then she will do it. She feels the need of that time for herself, she spends all her day of doing things for others and she feels the need for that time. So she truly suffers from that need of an identity of who she is.

ncamacho said...

In Murakami's "Sleep" we can see one of the consequences to being held captive in society; captive in that life that many woman are bound to have. We see how the woman in "Sleep" is tired of her everyday routine and she yearns to break those conventions. She is looking for a way in which she can acknowledge who she really is and understand her true identity. It is ironic how at the time she is supposed to be sleeping, is the time that she has to liberate herself. I don't believe that she suffers from insomnia because insomnia is defined as an impediment. We can see that the fact that she is not sleeping is not an impediment for her, it's actually the only time in her day that she gets to please herself, do things for herself, and not for others. If we have to say that she has an impediment, it would definitely be her daily routine and not the supposed insomnia. The routine she is enslaved to undergo makes her miserable and it impedes her from living her life to the fullest. Most importantly, this routine does not let her understand who she truly is, acknowledge herself, nor enjoy the pleasures in her life. Even though, she has the opportunity to escape and eat her chocolates, drink her brandy, read her favorite books, it all reaches a point of insanity. It reaches the point in the story in which the reader does not know if what she is saying is truly happening or it is simply just a dream. Finally, we can say that the woman in society shall break from that routine they are bound to have and do things for themselves, enjoy who they really are, before going out and finding a partner for your life.

bcrespo said...

I believe that the woman in "sleep" doesn't really suffer from insomnia. The woman suffers from the duality of the self. She refuses to give in or succumb to the routines of her everyday life. Her case of "insomnia" can be seen as her way of breaking the everyday routine and taking some time to find herself and reconnect with her inner woman. By not sleeping she is able to liberate herself and even got to do all of the things that she hadn't done in a long time either because she didn't have time because of her busy life or simply because her husband didn't like it. In the end the duality of her soul leads to her insanity since she cant seem to distinguish her reality from her fantasies; she cant reconcile the woman she is during the day as everyone is supposed to see her, and the woman she becomes at night which is her liberated form where she becomes whatever she wants to be.

bmolina said...

We can't really say that the woman in "Sleep" is an insomniac. To me the fact tht she s awake at night is the result of her need to have a time when she can shed the world's expectations. The woman begins taking part in activities that define her true self; I believe that, by the end of the story, she has gone insane just at the [rospect of having to reconcile both parts of her life.

oduardo said...

personaly, "sleep" is a very interesting story. wierd and kinda of random at times, but still very interesting. what i found most interesting is that, murakami, a man, wrote story in the perspective of a desperate, kinda sorta, imsomniac woman.

Luiggi said...

In Murakami's "Sleep" we can see how women need to find their space and be themselves. The woman had to drift between reality and Illusion to keep her "self" yet this ended up making her reach insanity. Having to go back and forth made her dislike her reality more and wish to be more in the state of illusion at her sleepless nights.

IsblCristina said...

I agree that the speaker does not suffer from insomnia,and she knows this herself. Its interesting how she unconsciously knows that a doctor cannot define what she is feeling, she is the ONLY one that can understand. Throughout the story one realizes how routine defines her life and it is not until she rids herself from sleep that she begins to question how her life has been. This "insomnia" is what gives her freedom: ridding herself from responsibility. I can see a similarity between this story and Kate Chopin's A pair of silk stockings. It is when they "purge" themselves from responsibility that they realize what they really want. They only think of themselves for those instances wishing it could always be that way. Grasping this concept, she sees sleep as unwanted and unnecessary because it would lead her to the normal, routine-based life she use to have. She is only herself when she is alone, and does not sleep. Although she does question her sanity and what being sleepless will bring, she accepts it and embraces it in complete refusal to take away the time, HER time, that has been given to her through it. The unfortunate ending to this story means only one thing: her inability to escape from the life she has chosen. It as if she has been stuck in the car all her life and has never been able to escape from the grasp of others. Its disturbing how she has to lose herself to become what others expect of her. This I believes makes her realize that her precious insomnia is nothing but temporary and after tasting freedom she must then accept the life she had before.

andmonti said...

personally, i think that her "insomnia" is really the natural way in which her body responds to the fact that this woman has absolutely no space of her own to be herself. her life is marked by routines and she never has time for herself, so unconsciously her body reacts to this by making a space for her - the only time where she can be herself and do everything she wants is when everyone is asleep and nobody bothers her.

Nurimoon said...

I think that the woman in "Sleep" is said to suffer from insomnia as a pretext for her voice, desires and true identity to be silenced. We could say that because of this reason is that she has to have a dual self. The woman that everybody sees is the one during the day and the woman at night is the real woman when she eats chocolate, drinks, and reads. During the day is the time where is full of routines and she does what is expected of society from her. During the night is when she does the things that she really likes. This “insomnia” which society says that she suffers from is necessary for her to find her real self and be satisfied, happy, and become a real woman with her own identity.

lauras. said...

I believe, the protagonist from "Sleep" is breaking her conventional routine of housewife by going against the nature of everyday human beings. By not sleeping, she is able to claim her own voice and space in which she feels confortable enough to be her self and do the things that please her.

mpmiranda said...

The woman in Murakami’s story “Sleep” does not actually suffer from insomnia because that would mean that she suffers from a sickness. When in reality her “lack of sleep” is a gift; it grants her the opportunity to reconcile with her identity and to lead the life she had always wanted. I believe the title “Sleep” refers to two different aspects in the story. The first is the state of the outsiders; those that can not understand her or have not noticed her tremendous change. They are unaware of this woman’s true self and because of this she is forced to lead a double life. The second reference is to the routine life the woman has fallen into. She has no passion for the life she is now leading mainly because it is filled with obligations and not her dreams. She feels as if she is not herself and that is why she constantly reminisces about her past, especially when she was at college fulfilling her goals. Therefore, this part of her, her true self, has been sleeping until the first sleepless night when she began to heal her broken identity. Once she has begun this process it is unstoppable and she decides to comply with the standards that society has imposed and with what her family expects from her during the day. However, during the night she liberates herself from these oppressing responsibilities and while everyone is asleep she receives an opportunity to fulfill her essence and soul.

mr. ktotheevinizzle said...

in this story we see another example of how societies predetermined view of things affects some peoples view of things. I say this because, as everyone has correctly pointed out, she does not suffer from insomnia, ironically, she is more awake then ever at night, because she is using that time, when no one else is around, to relax and find her "me time". Since she spends her whole day doing what others want, and what she doesn't necessarily want to do, she uses those late night hours to "re-energize", but by doing things that please her and give her that since of security. It's kind of like the movie "Fight Club", where Edward Norton's character goes to the many different meetings of things he doesn't, like cancer survivors, but he goes because, since he can't sleep, that is where he finds himself secure and "sane". Now we are definitely left with that doubt at the end of the story of whether or not she is doing these things or if it's all in her mind, like Fight Club !

thetankpascualjr. said...

The woman in sleep is using that time at night when she should be sleeping to do things that she loves doing, like reading and eating chocolate. Moreover, looking at it from a psychological perspective, she is looking for and claiming that personal space that everyone has the right to have, and she is using her body's resting time to do these things. I guess you can say that her body doesn't oppose this lack of sleep because it "thinks" that she deserves this special time for herself.

thetankpascualjr. said...

The woman in sleep is using that time at night when she should be sleeping to do things that she loves doing, like reading and eating chocolate. Moreover, looking at it from a psychological perspective, she is looking for and claiming that personal space that everyone has the right to have, and she is using her body's resting time to do these things. I guess you can say that her body doesn't oppose this lack of sleep because it "thinks" that she deserves this special time for herself.

mruiz said...

I believe that Murakami wrote an impresive and complex story of womanhood. The fact that he was a man and was able to comprehend the psyche of a woman who is making a change in her life. He uses insomnia as a metaphor for being awake and conscience of what the norm is and wants to break from that. Those women who remain sleeping at night, will retain what they have experienced throughout their lives. This routine is a conformity for them because it is the simple and confortable way to live but, the character in the story remembers a time when she was younger and lived differently and wants to go back to that life. It gave her a sense of freedom and be the difference in the women's typical lifestyle.

LBarnecet said...

In Murakami's "sleep"the protagonist is said to be with insomnia, I think other wise. Their is no real explanation of what may be going on with her, but in my opinion the women has always lived her life in a routine and wants to break that barrier of consistancy. By not sleeping she is able to realize the things she didn't do in her routine make her feel free and create that feeling of insomnia. Sleep for can be her weakness or fears and she wants to stay awake and have that feeling of liberty and disorder. Lastly, the women through her insanity is able to find her inner voice and appreciate what she has so long forgotten, which is life.

asantiago^2 said...

In my opinion, the woman in Murakami's "Sleep" is not actually suffering from insomnia, but by conforming to a routine, her mind knew that is not what she wanted and did not let her sleep, therefore creating a kind of dual personality, the person she is in her family's eyes during the day, and the person she is to herself at night

nr said...

Wow. I can't believe this post has generated so many comments. I have a feeling that you're all part of the same program (?). If so, is this in response to an assignment? I'd love to know.

It's interesting that you all are saying basically the same thing. I agree with an aspect of what you're saying, in that this is the suppressed half of the woman coming to life. Insomnia, however, means sleeplessness. Therefore, there is no denying that the woman does in fact suffer from insomnia.

Also, as I mentioned in my post, what blows me away in this story, is not only the duality of the woman's personality and her "real" versus her "daytime" selves, but that the story upends reality. I leave wondering who is really asleep and who is awake.

midomenech said...

In a way the woman in the story "rests" from the routine and what is expected from her at night. She is awake to her-"self", although her reality clashes with the one that she must respond to during the day. She breaks will all conventions even with the definition given to sleep.
I truly liked your analysis of this story. Therefore, I asked my group of students to read your analysis and leave their comments on your blog. I want to expose them to experiences in which they work as a community of authors.

znegron said...

I'm late...sorry :$
I believe that no she is not truly and insomniac, and that her lack of sleep is merely an escape to the daily routine, to the mist one could say (making a reference to unamuno's niebla) and truly one can say that because her night life is an awakening for her that her day life is her sleep, the time when she is unconcious and she simply does things

aarrieta said...

In the story "Sleep" we can appreciate two aspects of a woman's life and identity. We could also say that this applies not only to women, but to all of us.These two aspects are the repetitive and monotonous events of daily life during day, and the creation of who we are during night. The author uses insomnia to represent the sickness that humankind is missing in order to live happily. This sickness is the one of being able to make space for ourselves in between all of the necessary things we have to do in life. We have to consider and contemplate about the idea of having a balance between night and day, or routine and the path that we create. If we fail to balance them and we do what the woman in the story did which was: not sleeping in order to embrace the beauty of being her own spontanious self, then we are bound to be insane; just like her. The routine of every day and the absence of our own true self will drive each and every one of us insane.

pao.moon said...

When we think of the word "insomnia", we have to understand its meaning to really know if this woman had it or not. Insumnia is the impairment or the difficulty of sleeping. Is her condition of not sleeping a impairment? No! Does she have difficulty sleeping? No, she just doesn't want to. This moment where she doesn't sleep is her moment of joy, freedom, a time defined by her. This is the moment where she can do those things that are out of her ordinary life where time is definded by her rutine, making her feel, as she says, a "machine". In this moment, she is able to do the things she misses doing: swimming, driving, reading, drinking, eating chocolates, you name it! She is herself when everybody is sleeping. In a way, she feels she is "sleeping" when she is awake, and "awake" when everyone else sleeps. So, as we can see, she does not have insomnia. She just misses living her life as herself.

claudiadelmar said...

Insomnia is a symptom of a sleeping disorder characterized by persistent difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep despite the opportunity. Best known as the difficulty initiating or maintaining sleep, or bothand it may be due to inadequate quality or quantity of sleep.Although in Murakami's "Sleep" is presented as the women who suffers from imsomnia, that isnt the real theme of the story. The author is trying to portray as theme is the moment of rediscovery that one has when we live alone the routine to really discover what interests us. The women in the story used this time to rediscover all the things she liked to do in her past and by this meaning recover all the activities that made her happy . This time space state that the author calls imsomnia is no more that the opportunitty for the women to act like her true self and rediscover her tastes. This is the moment that we in a society who live so involved in our own things need to have in order to find our true self. The messege of the story is basically a call by the author to show us how routine and not aknowledgeing our true wishes may cause in our life. What is trully ironic is that the moments who suposibly she is acting with insomnia which are at night are the ones in which she acts with more healthy developments as human being and actually helps the develpment of her personallity and happines. Oviously a person cant be 17 days without sleeping, but this time is what simbolises that awakening or that moment in which she has an epiphany of what is what she enjoys and wants to do with her time, that otherwise she would have not done. Valorating herself as a woman, her need for her own time and development as a human being.

Anonymous said...

I guess the story is about dying. She really died the night when the stranger came. In the seconds before her death, she imagines a better life. How her life would have been without husband and son - freedom...
The final scene - trapped in a car - strongly reminds of being inside a coffin, being carried away by faceless and nameless strangers....

KatMills said...

One theme that I enjoyed about the short story is the theme of "What has my life become". The protagonist used to be a woman who used to love reading, however, she goes through one change after becoming a newlywed. Then she becomes a woman who is all about her husband, yet her husband doesn't really seem to notice her (like how he never cares about what she is reading or how he cannot tell that she dislikes talking about the plaque in his patient's teeth while she is eating). Then a few years later, she becomes some kind of robot who just goes through these same motions of actions everyday without slight change. Even her dialogue in the morning is the same without change "Be careful- Don't Worry". It's almost as if she's a part of some episode in a sitcom that is stuck in constant "repeat" mode.

When she starts having the insomnia, she starts realizing how empty her life has become. She cannot even understand what it is she likes about her own husband, and then later realizes that she sort of dislikes her own son as well. She realizes how she cannot even remember her husband's own face. It's almost as if her life has been a dream the last few years just because she never quite did an action against it, but just went with the flow. She also starts to rediscover herself, as well as to do things that are not part of the schedule. She starts eating chocolate, swimming for as long as she wants rather than a definite amount of time, reading and eating like she used to. She starts to realize that she has sort of just done what everyone wants of her, rather than just be herself and do things because SHE wants to.

Personally, I do not believe the protagonist is victorious, but she is also not at a complete loss in her quest in not living life like a dream. She's still stuck at a crossroads, and still figuring things out when she is attacked by these two "shadowy men". Then there's a cliffhanger. So yeah...that's my really long worded point of view of the short story.

Marian Cañón said...

The concept of time in the story "Sleep" by Murakami is one of a routine. The woman kept doing everything that she had to do (ex: cook, swim, read, etc.) at a certain time. When she couldn't stay asleep, she started for the first time in a while doing the things that she wanted (ex: reading, drinking, eating chocolate, swimming for one hour, etc.) The concept of time is very important because the woman was for the first time after not being able to sleep appreciating every single minute and second of her life. She even prefered to go mad instead of being able to go to sleep and lose the time she used for herself.

In some way she was victorious because she was doing what she wanted when she couldn't fall asleep but in the end, she lost because she couldn't escape from the two men who kept pushing the car.

Amanda S. said...

To me, the main character in Sleep seems to redefine her identity a couple of times. She explains that back in high school, she would devour books all the time; reading was a very important part of her life. But slowly, without noticing, things went changing. Once she married, her routine had to be altered because now she had a husband and son to take care of. Her daily schedule and “responsibilities” seemed to dictate her life: cook and care for her family. The only time the central character had moments for herself was when she would stare at her body in the mirror and swim to stay in shape. Yet again, though, her life changes once she experiences something similar to insomnia. The woman gets to understand once more what it was like to be alone and have nights to oneself. Since she didn’t sleep, she fell back in her original pattern of reading. She even indulged in chocolate and alcohol, something her husband wouldn’t approve of. But the readers don’t know how long this new routine lasts because the ending seems to finish inexplicably.
I think the protagonist is only somewhat victorious. Her new routine lets her have time for herself and do things she wants to do, not things she has to do. But because she can’t sleep, the woman has a lot of time to ponder about certain little things, such as her husband’s appearance. Eventually, being too observant and having all of those thoughts will catch up to her and she will go mad. As she says, “Locked inside this little box, I can’t go anywhere.” She feels the sleeplessness will act as a sort of prison to her mind.

LPabon said...

The protagonist of "Sleep" redefines her identity by losing that concept of time. After she gets married she starts following this strict routine that revolves around her husband's and later her son's life, even though she isn't much appreciated or noticed. I think her insomnia seperates the women she is after her marriage from the woman she used to before hand. These two later mix-up and bring her more complex feelings about herself and her life.

I think she is only partly victorious. Even though she is finding herself in this quest she also become insane during the process, and by becoming insane she is losing this quest.

claudia p. said...

The woman in Murakami's "Sleep", in my opinion, does not really suffer from insomnia. Instead, she uses this time at night to find herself and define who she really is. Night time is the only time she has to free herself from a daily routine that will ultimately lead to her insanity.

Her quest is to liberate herself from her household pressures in order to redifine herself. Her insomnia can simbolize an awakening and Murakami's attempt to raise consciousness about women's place in society. I believe that, although she did find time to find herself, her insanity was an obstacle in her way to victory.

claudia p. said...

The woman in Murakami's "Sleep", in my opinion, does not really suffer from insomnia. Instead, she uses this time at night to find herself and define who she really is. Night time is the only time she has to free herself from a daily routine that will ultimately lead to her insanity.

Her quest is to liberate herself from her household pressures in order to REDEFINE herself. Her insomnia can simbolize an awakening and Murakami's attempt to raise consciousness about women's place in society. I believe that, although she did find time to find herself, her insanity was an obstacle in her way to victory.

Christian DLS said...

After our broad and in-depth study and analysis of men and what makes them memorable, as part of the AP English class, we are currently focused in the study and analysis of women through literature. These female characters also portray peculiar characteristics in a judicial environment of society.

Famous postmodernist Japanese writer, Haruki Murakami, portrays in his short story, Sleep, the leading character's sufferings through a series of events that may well be regarded as the character's frustrations throughout time. The protagonist is submerged into a series of events with and without obstacles as well as emotions such as uncertainty, fear, and happiness in a routine, sometimes tedious, life, which eventually leads to an ambiguous end in the story.

At the beginning of the story, the protagonist has been suffering from possible insomnia for seventeen straight days. She recalls a parallel event when she was in college where she couldn't sleep. The difference was that back then, she had sturdy feelings of drowsiness that sometimes affected her everyday life. This time, she didn’t really feel tired or affected, in that sense, by the lack of sleep.

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, insomnia is a prolonged and usually abnormal inability to obtain adequate sleep. In this case, insomnia does apply to the protagonist since she has spent many days without adequate sleep. But in the other hand, her ability to stay awake while others slept without noticing her, helped her redefine herself and find her own purpose in life, in other words, it allowed the main character to find and achieve her quest that was almost impossible due to the daily routine life she lived. It was during the nights that she examined certain elements and aspects of her life which includes, but is not limited to: her family, her desires and interests as well as her emotions towards things that she performed as part of her routine; many of which she had questions, but no answers.

At the end of the story, the protagonist fails and is; therefore, not completely victorious as she is unable to escape from the men that are about to attack her during the night while she waits inside her car. All she can do is cry and wait for what is about to happen while trapped inside a “little box,” as she calls it. The main character was only triumphant in redefining herself, but the rest, including the character’s fate and whether she turned out to be memorable or not, is truly unknown.

MarianaMelendez said...

In Murakami's "Sleep" we can see the dual personality of the human being and the struggle one faces we can not embrace both. The woman which suffers from insomnia spends her sleepless nights analyzing herself and discovering aspects of her identity. Night time was the only moments she had to reflect upon herself, were she didn't have to work and she could break free from her duties and the responsibilities that tied her down from doing the things she desired. The night was the moment in which she could find herself and for once her life didn't revolve around her family but she could think of herself first. So this so called insanity leads to her victory of self discovery and acceptance.

VivianaBL said...

The woman in “sleep” leads a life that seems to pass in a sort of daze. Hours, minutes, and seconds all feel the same. It is as if she is rushing, trying to “fulfill her duty” as timely as possible in order to have time for something else. She must be beautiful, she must have sex with her husband, she must love her son, she must cook: she must, she must, she must.

The dream that eventually results in her “insomnia” is a metaphor for her life. She is stuck, trapped. No one hears her. She cannot scream, she cannot cry for help. The old man in black pours water over her feet and she fears her feet will rot. This is a metaphor for how ineffectual her life is and how she is letting her potential, talents, and dreams rot by living a useless, mundane life.

It is necessary to point out, however, the particularly curious detail of her husband being able to sleep through anything. This is evidently a metaphor for how oblivious he is to his wife’s new quest to “extend life”. It also serves to foil the character of the woman by presenting her opposite: a tranquil, carefree man contently resigned to a monotonous life.

Another subtle, yet important detail is the fact that, at the end of the story, the woman deliberately tries to “look like a boy”, as if this would guarantee her safety. In the end, however, she fails to escape her reality and the image of “being trapped” appears once again when the woman is locked in her car, feeling how her “world” is being tipped over.

I.Mujica said...

As an occasional insomniac I can tell you that she is not suffering from insomnia. Insomnia is a cage that binds you to your present issues by forcing you to remain awake and think about the very things that make a person want to go to sleep to escape, if only for 8 hours.

The woman's lack of sleep IS her escape.

She is trapped by the routine and her role as a woman during the days to such an extent that she must stay awake in order to have a "life" of her own. Medically speaking, she might begin to suffer from psychological problems such as mania or even death due to her extreme sleep deprivation. But I will correct myself, I do not believe it is sleep deprivation but an act of rejection of reality and a cry or independence.

The cat and mouse game that her two identities play (before and after marriage) end up making her go insane because of her refusal to sleep. Truly one cannot win a battle against oneself without losing your self in the process.

PatriciaM said...

The protagonist's story is certainly an insteresting one, and a journey I enjoyed reading and analyzing.
No, I do not beleive that this woman suffers from insomnia. Perhaps we may better define it as some sort of crisis that she is going through in her life. She is definitely tired of her daily routine and she simply cannot find a way to sleep. She figures that by forgetting completely about sleeping and erasing this concept from her mind, she will be able to explore herself more in-depth, that she will truly find herself.

However, how can she be victorious?, when at the end she is attacked suddenly and completely breaks down, which we can maybe assume ends her life. This poor woman is a victim of routines, and since she was never able to really define her identity, she was completely lost, helpless, and vulnerable. Inevitably, she lost her own being in the process of trying to find herself. What a sad sad paradox.

Anonymous said...

I believe that the woman in the story is trapped inside a routine that has taken the best of her. She is no longer the owner of her own time or actions since she lives her life according to what the other people surrounding her have to do on their daily routine. I dont consider her to be victorious because I dont even think she was gonna be able to even act upon what was happening to her at the end

elinge said...

The night is the only time that the woman from "Sleep" has to reflect on herself and on her life. At night she can break from the constant, daily routines she has and In this story we can see how this human suffers from having a dual personality, and how it leads her to her insanity, since she can't embrace both. I believe that by not having the ability to embrace her limitations and her dual personality she can’t be victorious.

SNieves said...

Insomnia, in simplistics, is the inhability to sleep. In really, though it poses a much more profound phycological state where one cannot disconect from the world that clouds one to achieve the much needed rest every person needs. The main character does in this sense fall under what is called, by definition insonmia, since she is unable to sleep. Still we can see a distinction in that she doues not particularly want to battle the "insomnia" she is suffering.

The main cahracter is cuaght in the meaningless routine that has become her life. We see that she has not always been so, and she refers so a "better" time before she was married. We are never give a true reason or triger to the charcters problem, but it seems like to me this insomnia comes from a profound unacknowledged need she possesed. We see that when she begins to lose her sleep she starts to do the things she had not done since before her marriege. The things it seems her subconcious self needed so dramtically that it affected her physicall state making it impossible to falll asleep. This in itself falls under deep physicological trauma, which I think very well falls under what is insomnia.

Whether or not she is victorious is a subjective thing. Most obviusly to me is that a least her subconcious did succed since it got what it needed. Still the main character herself does not understand the profoudity of her actions. It is important also to consider the physical consecuenses of insomnia, in the story it seems to go far enough to hurt her state of sanity. Thus bringing forth a sort of moot point. We end up with a satisfied subconcious trapped whitin a crazy tired woman.

ayxa rosado said...

In Murakami's "Sleep" it can be observed how the dual personality and quest for identity define one's life. In the story, the protagonist escapes her cruel, monotonic life during the night. She finds pleasure as well as tranquility in her insomnia. In my opinion, I believe that the protagonist is so attached to her double life at night because of the fact that she is in control and has no restrictions when nobody can see her. It is ironic how the lack of sleep makes her feel even more alive than sleeping would do.

Women must learn how to take care of the family without loosing one's true self. They must also find other solutions to their conflicts with happiness other than resigning and behaving silently. Women must be victorious in all senses not just partially like the protagonist is. In a part she is victorious because she does what she enjoys at a point of her day but she neglects her health and suffers insomnia which are not victorious qualities.

Roberto said...

In "Sleep" the woman doesn't just rethink about her life, she defines who she is but also thinks very thoroughly about who she wants to be. Unfortunately, this is her biggest hurdle yet, because she contradicts her happiness as a mother and as a wife but at the same time sees this as part of her unhappiness as the same thing. Her husband and her son make her doubt her true identity because of the tediousness of her boring life and daily routine. Her lack of sleep simply drives her to think about this fact to the point where she decides that her life is not worth living anymore.

FMARTE said...

FMarte
“Sleep” by Murakami
a. The protagonist’s quest in the story is defined by her sleepless episodes in which she realizes she behaves differently as to when she sleeps regularly. She finds herself in an elevated state of consciousness, in which she is more alert than what she was before. She reflects back and is almost sure she was in an automatic state, but this lack of sleep makes her achieve a higher state of consciousness. She defines her identity based on these two different states of mind. In her regular automatic state, the one in which she sleeps, she finds herself ordinary, and is somehow not content with herself but content with her lifestyle and her family. When she does not sleep she finds starts seeing herself different, stronger, looking younger, full of vitality, etc, but in the process finds herself unhappy with her family and little details she overlooked before. Time in the story is divided by the different task she performs daily, which fall into place as a daily routine. One that never changes, this showing a conformist attitude in the past.
b. I believe she is not victorious in the end; she in the end is happy for herself but unhappy with her current situation. She gets to a point where it is just overwhelming and she is left with no other choice than to try to escape to a happier, more relaxing place. She then falls into an unknown danger in which you never get to know what happened.

skavi said...

I would say that she does not suffer from insomnia. What she goes through is something much more intricate than loss of sleep. Merely calling her metaphysical ailment insomnia and dismissing her plight as a loss of sleep does a huge disservice to the message of the story.

Nay, what this woman goes through is the purging of the human condition. There comes a point when she decides that being human, to be driven by our tendencies, is not really living. She tries to go meta, but it proves to be too much for her. She loses herself entirely and fails to reconnect with reality.

Mike said...

In Haruki Maukami's "Sleep" the main character, an insomniac woman in her thirties, struggles through two separate identities. There's her daytime self and her sleepless nighttime self; during the day she's just another number in the world population ticker who goes through the motions of the day and basically lives in a scratched record. During the night however, she frees herself from her mundane reality and allows herself to enjoy the things she used to enjoy when she was young, like reading and eating sweets. This freedom however comes at a price; the more time she goes without sleep the more sanity she loses until in the end she gives up on life and is attacked by two dark figures, who most likely kill her. So, was she victorious? Of course not. She loses her mind, secretly hates her life, and probably gets murdered. I would define that as a proper failure.

MGonzalez said...

I consider that the woman in Murakami's "Sleep" does not suffer from "insomnia", she can only be her true self during the night. During the day she has to be the woman she is expected to be, she has to take care of her children, husband and the household, but she is not truly happy because how can you be happy and joyfull about life when your not your true self?. Like Virginia Wolf explains in her essay, a woman needs her own space and this woman's space is the night. This is when she can truly be herself and do things she enjoys.

Bob said...

"Sleep" is a strange story about a woman who has lost the ability to sleep. In the time she does not sleep, she finds time for herself in which she does whatever she wants. She had not had this chance for a long time, since before she got married. Since then, she had to devote her time to caring for her husband, child, and house overall. Now that she had an extra eight hours, she felt exhilarated, and even superior. She felt like she had a portion of time to be free and go back to what she once was. What was the problem? This was not natural. It was not meant to be that way, by normal standards. Humans need their sleep, and more importantly, I am a firm believer that too much thinking is bad for any human being. All extremes are bad. This woman fell into that extreme, but as we all know, it came at a price: insanity and death. She became a kind of crazy and even said that she'd eventually despise her child. The sign that a woman has let go of her motherly instincts is the sign that she has lost her mind. Perhaps some may think it was better this way for her, and perhaps it was. However, I personally do not care what was better for her. One must realize that every human has certain responsibilities, and if we cannot keep up with our own, then we might as well just die. She had a responsibility to her husband, and more importantly to her child, but she cared too much about looking young, eating sweets, and looking for an escape from her life. The reality is that we must not try to escape our lives, but embrace them. Love your lot in life, or perish.

keykey escobar said...

In Murakami’s “Sleep’ I would say the protagonist doesn’t suffer from insomnia but instead she suffers from insanity. The women had a double personality and the insomnia can be related to the fact that she wanted to break out of her daily routines, of having to take care of both her husband and child; so when her insomnia takes control it can be interpreted that she needed time to rediscover who she really was. By this time when she decided to deviate sleep and instead stay awake, it was to appreciate herself and do the things that she desire to do since time, work, responsibility restrained her from doing what she really wanted to. In the end the climatic moment in the story is when she cant associate both her reality, and her fantasy. By day she was what everyone thought of her but by night she was who she wanted to be. Though it can also be interpreted who was more asleep, she who couldn’t conjoined her dual personalities, or them who never notice a change in her.

mr. bandas said...

In his short story, Murakami interprets with fascinating story-telling skills and engrossing literary elements a theme commonly explored by the overabundance of writers and poets history has given – the recognition of identity. The story’s protagonist seeks refuge from a humdrum reality, which has had many negative and blinding effects on her perspective of life, by exploiting her case of “insomnia”, something we would commonly understand to be an impediment or disorder. In the story, insomnia is manifested as the aforementioned, as a hindrance, but instead of it being conceived as a simple sleep disorder, it is an unrealistic departure from what has deprived her of feeling that would eventually lead to an inevitable defeat. The woman attempted something no one before her has attained, egression of the human form, a condition dominated by the animal instinct to produce (rather than survive) which excludes the principles of altruistic behavior that provide a dim sense of poetic hope for humanity. Moreover, she would attempt to successfully lead a dual personality. Though our paradoxical nature may incline us to develop one or more alter egos, absolute manifestation of the mind and soul through all of these channels is just impossible. What the woman experienced IS insomnia, as we may make the assumption that her initial loss of sleep was caused in part by a subconscious, depressive desire for a distinct and active role in her life, and would later develop into a metaphoric insomnia fueled by an obsession to achieve complete detachment from a mundane truth, driving the woman as far as to reject her maternal responsibilities.
I love to sleep. I sleep in class, before and after eating, when I get home, and even while I drive. Sleep temporarily divorces our being from a life full of false complexities, as our role in life is meant to be primarily passive, it would be unnecessary to waste a space in the world that would better off be taken up by someone who has resolve. We must sleep during the day and embrace life by night. After all, the stars seem to shine more then.

Gabriela said...

Gabriela Batista-

Murakami's "Sleep" tells us about a woman who is sort of trapped in her life and in a routine. When she experiences her insomnia we can deduce that this is the time she has for herself, to be herself and not to follow this continuos routine. This "insomnia" is what gives her the freedom she is looking for, her quest. The protagonist redefines her identity because she escapes from what society expects of her and when everybody is asleep and not watching her every move, she remembers how she used to be and starts to know herself again from when she wasn't married. She does things that she wouldn't normally do, and doing these things, she can find herself.

The concept of time at the beginning of story wasn't really and issue because the protagonist didn't seem to realize that much time had past and that she was living a routine, When you do the same things over and over, you don't notice time passing by. When she reflects on what her life has become, she now understands the concept of time and spends her "insomnia" doing anything she wants.

What is very interesting is that sometimes when adults grow up and get married and all of the expected things by society occur, they are dominated by their responsibilities. They forget who they are, therefore loose sight of their identity. She was saved from this because from something that was usually considered bad, this helped her fulfill herself. Many people are not lucky enough to have this alone time and as time passes you don't even recognize yourself.

naps. said...

The woman in sleep has lost her identity because of routine; this has happened to her troughout her whole life. When a student she would loose herself in her readings not dedicating time to herself and to discover her true identity. Now in her married life she lives in a total routine where she only has time to serve and dedicate time to her husband and child. The only time she has to dedicate to herself is when she is swimming,which is part of her routine; or at night when she is suffering from insomnia and comes out of her routine to indulge in things she has not been able to do in years such as eating chocolate. She has forgotten what she is like and this period of time that she has for herself and nobody to interrupt her enables her to rediscover herself. The only inconvinience that this brings is that she detaches herself from the responsibility that she has as a mother and a wife. So she is victorious in the aspect that she has "found" herself again, but she is wrong in abandoning her family in doing so.

Ricardo Velez said...

The woman in "Sleep" redefines her identity throughout the story in an unconscious way. The woman's sudden rejection of sleep allowed her to realize how different her life has become. It became this boring life in which she had the same tendencies and the same routine each day. By not sleeping, she began doing the things she enjoyed before her marriage. For instance, eating chocolate, drinking alcohol, reading, etc. The hours she was awake allowed her to escape that monotonous routine and redefine who she really was. At night, she reflected, it was the only time where she could focus on herself without having to do the usual chores. She had the space to think and reassert herself as a woman. It's also very ironic that the cause of her changed life (husband) slept all throughout the night without worrying about her. Can we say that at the end she was victorious? To some extent, she was victorious since she reasserted herself in some way. Moreover, the last scene brought her back to reality. She led a boring life which she hated and felt trapped all over again when she had nowhere to run and the men were tipping the car back and forth. She became to obsessed with a life that, unfortunately for her, didn't exist anymore since she married and had a son. I personally think that she should forget the life she had before her marriage and enjoy her reality.

Kristen said...

I know this is a long time from when this was originally posted, but I just read this short story last night and searched online for an outlet through which I could discuss a thought, and here it is.
I just wanted to point out something I found fascinating- there is a time when the protagonist says that she can't ever recall the details of her husband's face when thinking of it.
"I once tried to draw his picture, but I couldn't do it. I couldn't remember what he looked like...What could I do? It was like running into an invisible wall. The one thing I could remember was that his face looked strange."

If we go along with the theory that she was going through life asleep before her 17 day stint without sleep, then this makes perfect sense. When you wake up from a dream, you have to think extremely hard to recall details of the people, places, or events within it. And if you don't concentrate hard enough, the memory of the details will fall away in seconds. You might recall the general sense of strangeness that the dream created, or a certain emotion it evoked, but you won't be able to remember anything beyond that.

The fact that our lead character can't recall her husband's face is a large hint from the author, I believe, that she was, indeed, "sleeping" through life until she woke up and became aware of her ability to live life the way she wanted to.

N. Abreu said...

The woman in “Sleep” had the quest to free herself from the routines and tendencies that were defining her. These routines consume and enslave her. She then stops sleeping. Under these circumstances she became herself again and starts controlling time and reclaims that time for herself. She renounced her identity in the day and at night she was herself. In my opinion I don’t think she is victorious at the end because she is not able to completely renounce to one of her identities. Her dual identity poses as an obstacle to her becoming victorious.

R.Garcia said...

In “Sleep” the woman searches for freedom. Tendencies were consuming her, wearing her down on one side like the heel of a shoe. By staying up at night, she is able to reclaim and control the time for herself (claim her space). Time is also divided by all her tasks during the day, which falls as a daily routine. These routines and tendencies confine her and make her give up her identity. She redefines her identity based on two different states of mind, but she fails to merge her reality. I don’t consider the woman in “Sleep” to be victorious because I don’t think she would have fought against the sudden attack which could have destroyed her. In view of the fact that she was, by no means, capable of redefining her identity, she was weak and powerless.

ncasillo said...

1. I believe the woman in "Sleep" is victorious at the end because even though it was for only seventeen days, she achieved to redefine her identity. The "tendencies" in her life obligated her to have to give up what she was and become enslave to her new reality which revolved around her daily routine. When she is supposed to be physically awake, she is asleep in the mind. Her body moves in autopilot meaning that she can perform her daily routine with her eyes closed, as when someone is asleep, without consciousness. The lack of sleep has made her regain her identity and therefore made her find herself again and rejoin with the pleasure she once enjoyed. Murakami expresses that she even has more energy than when she slept. I believe this is because for the first time in a long time she is doing things for the pleasure of them; because she enjoys them and not because they are part of the routine. I believe she is victorious because she revived her identity even though it meant she had to give up her sanity at the end.

mrodriguez said...

This woman’s quest is to be free. She wants to have time for herself, to redefine her identity. This freedom she experiences at night empowers her and completely redefines her routines. These tendencies in her routine have defined her and what society expects of her. She has lost herself in the routine; it confines her until the point where she loses her identity. She will realize her reality and she will try to remember who she was before. This woman became a secretly fragmented character between who she is at night and who she is during the day. In my opinion, she comes out victorious because unlike many people, she realized her reality. She found she was being subjected and her submission was causing her real self to disappear. Once she realizes it she rapidly makes the necessary measures to fix them. Although she, in my opinion, realized this truth which so many fail to see, she also sacrificed something great, her sanity.

bavalos said...

In Murakami’s story, “Sleep” the protagonist’s quest is to fight against the tendencies she encounters in her everyday life. She wishes to break away from that monotonous life which deprives her from her identity and attaining happiness. The protagonist redefines her identity by not sleeping at night, and instead enjoys the luxuries that she’s denied during the day. The concept of time is seen throughout the story in different ways. During the day, she takes care of her son and makes sure that her husband’s needs are fulfilled and during nighttime she dedicates her time to satisfying herself and acting upon her most inner desires. At the end of the story, the protagonist is not victorious in her quest of finding her true happiness. On the contrary, she is trapped between two realities where she must either succumb to her routine life or rebel against society’s expectations. She becomes trapped by her inability to act leading to her unavoidable failure.

s.colón said...

In "Sleep", the woman is consumed by the routine and responsibilities imposed by society, in which she wakes up every day, cooks, cleans, swims, and starts again the next day. When she stops sleeping, she is finally able to indulge in things she didn't have before. At night, she "awakens" to herself and what she really wants. This time becomes a space of her own, where the world doesn't judge her for pampering herself and where she is able to escape the "tendencies" she is enslaved by during the day. This freedom allows her to redefine herself to what she wants, and not how the world chooses to see her. However, I believe she is not victorious in her quest. In the end, she realizes she cannot live both lives at once, and she will have to resign one of them. She has the "key", but it doesn't work. This could symbolize that even though she has had a realization of her reality (she is asleep during the day and awake at night), it's impossible for her to escape this way forever.

zcordero said...

In Murakami’s story “Sleep”, we are presented with a woman on a quest to free herself from the tendencies of her routine and find her identity and true passion in life. She uses time as a way of manipulating her reality and divides it into two different worlds. During the day, she is on autopilot and performs her house chores and her responsibilities as a mother and wife. However, at night she liberates her soul through reading, drinking brandy, and eating chocolate. This is her own time where she is free to act as she pleases and explore what truly defines her. She redefines her identity by going against what society dictates is normal, like sleeping at night. Instead of sleeping she uses this time to please herself, not the men in the house. Through this process she begins slowly changing and putting more effort into discovering herself than fulfilling her house chores and responsibilities. This leaves her with more energy and eventually projects itself in her outward appearance although no one notices the change. However, at the end of the story she is not victorious because instead of being consumed by the routine she is instead consumed by the insanity that her life has become. She is not able to fully free herself from the tendencies that confine and suppress her identity. At the end she realizes that she cannot continue living her life this way and must therefore make a choice. Until she decides she will just live in the insanity of the wakeful darkness, dead in life.

vgomez said...

In "Sleep", the woman's quest is to find freedom. She wishes to let go of her routine, which involves her household chores and taking care of her family, and wants time for herself. This routine has her time divided and set out for her to be able to please her son and husband. She believes that she has insomnia, but it is actually in this moment that she stops sleeping when she finds time to do the things she likes to do and have some time for herself. She has the ability to control this 'time' because she does whatever she wants to do with it. This is her moment of escape and freedom and it redefines her identity (which was taken away when she started pleasing others and forgot about herself). In the end, she is incapable of combining both of her realities, therefore she is not victorious at the end because she knows the reality that she wants is not the reality she should have.

A Collazo said...

Quest: to find herself
In”Sleep” by Haruki Murakami you can see how the protagonist is being consumed, trapped, enslaved, and confined by her own routine, which she calls tendencies. The reality is that this woman was going through life asleep and she doesn’t realize it until she has “something like insomnia”. While her body responded to the routine, the mind was asleep. When she has her “something like insomnia” is when she finally wakes up from this “dream”. It is here where she actually becomes free, awake, and empowered by this awakening.  Before, she was going through life asleep while everyone lived but now she is living life awake while the others sleep, at night.  In this story you can see the fragmentation of a person, in this case into two, one in the day and one in the night.  At night is when she thinks clearer, making this time, her own time, in which she can do anything she wants without being judged and restricted.  At night she claims her space in which she finally controls the time in her life. This is why she didn’t care if the “insomnia” went on, as long as she had control of her own time and space in which she could be free. This period of time or space, represented her freedom and her expansion of consciousness because it is here where she is awake and not sleeping.
I believe she is not victorious in the end because she doesn’t get to keep her “space”. It is taken away from her and thus she loses the control she had over her life, her time, and her sanity; her freedom is turned over.

J. Rodriguez said...

The woman in “Sleep” had a quest to find herself. She felt trapped and consumed by the routines, tendencies, of her life and she wanted to attain freedom. Loosing the ability to sleep empowered her and made her feel alive. For this reason I don’t think she suffered from insomnia since it wasn’t an impairment. For her, the concept of being awake, meant to have time and be able to reclaim it for her. The concept of time throughout this story is controlled by her after she doesn’t sleep because she finds herself living two realities, one at day and the other one at night. But she really felt asleep when she was in her daily routine, by not being able to sleep she was awakened by her reality and because of this she decided to search for herself and the things that really made her be who she really wanted. I don’t believe she’s victorious at the end because all she wanted was to be free from the tendecies of her life but the only time when she could really have time for herself was at night when everybody else was sleeping. Still during the day she had to continue to do the same things as she had always done and I think this is what she realizes at the end, she was consumed by society’s expectations and couldn’t free herself from this making her loose sanity. She’s was trapped.

J. Lafontaine said...

In “Sleep”, by Haruki Murakami, the main character has been engulfed by her “tendencies”. Her quest is to get rid of the routines that bind her in order to be completely free and happy. The only way she can achieve this is to stay awake during the night to have time to do whatever she wants and try to regain her identity. Nevertheless, she is not fully able to fulfill her quest because this time is limited. During daytime, she still has to go through her schedule, which includes taking care of her son and husband. It is only during the few hours between 10:00 pm and 6:00 am that she can get involved in self-satisfying activities like reading. At the end of the story, the main character sees herself trapped in her car by two unknown people, and she is unable to escape. This event tells us that she is not victorious in her quest, because she is incapable of overcoming the social forces that trap her.

krivera♥ said...

the protagonist's quest, how she redefines her identity, the concept of time, and any other theme that has not been discussed previously.

b. Also analyze the question of: Is she victorious at the end?

In H. Murakami's "Sleep", the protagonist's quest is to find herself in the middle of her routinized life. She no longer feels like herself around her husband or her kid. The protagonist's husband kept her from all the things she liked to do, like for example eating chocolate. We may also infer that when she goes swimming to maintain her figure, she does it to please her husband. She is also searching for freedom; she needs some time apart from all the chores and responsibilities that are part of her daily routine.Since her life is a repeated cycle that enslaves her, the protagonist renounces or loses her identity. Her redefined-self consists of what the husband expects her to do and what she is not allowed to do. This is why the speaker starts "controlling" time by omitting sleep, she reclaims a space for herself. All the time which she loses to the routine, she makes up for at night when she does not sleep. It is during this time that she does whatever she wants and she is able to be herself again. The woman who loved books, brandy, and chocolate.
I believe that in the end the speaker was not victorious because she doesn't truly find herself. she just finds herself trapped between to worlds; what is expected of her and what she wants herself to be.

mvélez said...

In 'Sleep" by Murakami the protagonist's quest is to find freedom within herself. She explains how her lie is a rutine she can't break free from, but is searching to do so. Her entire life she lives for other people's standards instead of for herself, and only has time for her at night. She wants to be free of responsibilities and all the chores she has to do. Reading, drinking, and eating chocolate are things that she does to enjoy herself;things that she wants to do instead of what people expect of her, and by doing this she claims her own space. Since she can only do this while no one is around I would say she is not victorious at the end because instead of freeing herself she founds herself trapped in a world she can't be herself.

A.Pueyo said...

In my opinion she didn't "suffer' from insomnia, not just because it wasn't a psychological or medical condition but because she was actually blessed in a way by this since she actually became stronger and happier. We can observe how she was looking for this break in the routine or this "rebelliousness" against what society has put as standards. This is were this time in which she can do what she normally doesn't have the time for or just breaking free from this routine is what ultimately empowers her and frees her from this bond. In this story time plays a very important role and we can see a change in context of how the author wants to portray it, for example at the beginning she is describing this periods of sleeplessness like a never ending struggle and then we see how it perpetuates to this enjoyable period at night were she really blossoms. I would say that at the end she wasn't victorious but at the same time she didn't loose either just for the fact that she did get to live life as she wanted for a little while and she didn't loos anything since things went back to the way they were.

Anonymous said...

The women's quest in "Sleep" is to find her true self, and by finding it she can finally break the chains of her routine which consumes her day by day, in effect losing her identity. When everybody is asleep she is awake, this is the only time she can do things she wants to do thinking about what is best for her and not her tendency of always having to be living for others. In other words she is searching for freedom. The freedom she does not have because of what is expected of her and because she is always living her life for others. At the end I believe she is not victorious because she is not able to break her daily routines and will have to live by exactly what people expected of her.

-n.ortiz

Adriana said...

In “Sleep”, the narrator suffers from sleeplessness, but it cannot be called insomnia because it is not a disability. Throughout the story, the narrator seeks freedom from her daily routine, which she calls her tendencies. Everyday, she would perform these tasks mechanically and every day seemed the same. This all stopped when she first had a trance and since then could not sleep. She says that she was more efficient than ever and during the time when everyone was sleeping, she finds time to be herself, read her books, eat chocolate, and drink. At this time, the narrator feels free from her tendencies and accepts her sleeplessness, as sleep is a form of repairing the body and her tendencies. I believe that the narrator is not victorious because although she finds a time of her own at night, no one notices she has this time and she does not overpower the two shadows that turn over her freedom.

jrOppenheimer said...

The protagonist of "Sleep" embarks on a quest to loosen tendency's grip on her life and regain the life she had before settling down. By changing the concept of time, she intends to redefine her identity and find herself. The concept of time in the story is primarily at night when the protagonist feels free and in a world where she is actually living in and not just existing in. Her identity is revealed to herself at night when she reconnects with a past in which she could indulge in what she wanted and not have to live for anyone else. The protagonist is not victorious at
the end of the selection because even though she had a glimpse of a life which would be ideal for her because she no longer was bound to routines, the limits of her biological nature consumed her, as well as the hopeless bound the protagonist had to men. Also, even if she would have achieved a longer period of freedom, it couldn't be considered complete freedom because she still had to hide from society's view by doing her activities at night.

m. arcadia said...

In Murakami's "Sleep" the narrator doesn't suffer from insomnia because the disorder instead of impairing, it empowers her. It makes the reader doubt when is she truly sleeping and when is she awake. It can be concluded that she sleeps in her routine, since her body automatically responds to tendencies. It seems that she has been living for others, and stopped living for herself. She is dead to herself. The only time that belonged to her was from 10pm - 6am, in which she did what pleased her (read, eat chocolate, drink, etc.). However, she does not struggle. She is on a quest, trying to find her true self, to release herself from entrapment, to gain freedom. In the end, both her car and her sanity are turned over simultaneously.

alopez said...

The protagonist in "Sleep" finds herself in a quest where in it she realizes how much of herself she has lost due to her custom life. It’s her tendencies and routines that imprison her thus her need for freedom. Her unique way of controlling time is so unusual, that even though it seemed fit and perfect at first, she lost herself again at the end. This woman finds herself in a stage of insomnia even though she does not consider it as a problem but actually something that works for her advantage, because if this, she now has time to do everything she couldn’t do while she was awake due to the routine she had to obey and follow. No one could criticize her and didn’t have to live by society’s rules and expectations. At the end, she realizes she can never really escape this life she desperately wants to break away from; she is unable to find a balance causing her insanity.

Anonymous said...

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J.Z. said...

When I began to read the story, since our pamphlets were printed out backwards, I read the last page first. After noticing and starting to read the story the right way, I couldn't get the last scene out of my head, and that's what I'd like comment on.
In the scenario that the ending represents her finally falling asleep , I can't help it picture a baby being swung to sleep, like the car was being swung. I think this would represent her unintentionally giving in to Asian (if I'm allowed to generalize) societal pressures. The baby no longer chooses when to sleep, he will be swung to sleep even if it makes him cry. Also, the scene is very much like a nightmare: dark figures she cant quite identify; her key doesn't seem to work anymore (there is no escape); the “people” outside the car are very near, yet they seem not to be able to actually reach her. Any ill meaning person with the strength to rock a car to the verge of tipping over could surely break open the window and get it over with.
The scenario that the ending represents her loss of sanity (most likely due to chronic insomnia), and the hallucination of dark figures rocking her car, is the one I find most likely. This outcome would explain why no matter how hard she tries, she can't think straight. A thick darkness has taken over her mind and the deprivation of sleep has altered her ability to function correctly. She's aware shes in trouble (fabricated by her own mind) and she probably remembers about the man killed and the woman raped; she knows the logical path that leads to escape, yet she gives up. Not very sane at all.
Independently of what the finale represents, it is clear that she has failed. She is finally drained of any strength and awareness redefining herself had bestowed. Her future, if she survived, will be plagued with sleeping pills that bind her to routine, or stronger medication if she has lost her sanity. Perhaps she will try to not sleep again, to claim her space in time, but she will probably be kept a close eye on, like the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper. She will ultimately fall asleep, and in her words, die.

(I hope I didn't post this twice)

c.colon said...

The protagonist is on the quest of finding herself, of reclaiming her identity. Her daily routine consumes her and forces her to, as Ms. Domenech said, renounce her identity. Sleep, as defined by the protagonist after researching the in the library, is were our bodies fix themselves from the monotonous use tendencies impose on them so that we are able to perform them again. By rejecting sleep, the protagonist finds a way to break the paradigms that have been imposed on her by society and in doing so finding her lost self.
Her sleeping schedule is reversed completely because during the time she used to sleep, she now finds herself awake to the world and most importantly, to herself, whereas during the time she used to be awake she nows finds rest for her body because she does not need to pay attention to what she is doing during these hours because she is so accustomed to the movements she is able to them in her sleep (as Julian said in the classroom).
The protagonist acknowledges that because of her lack of sleep she will probably have a shorter life and that by gaining this time to herself she may only cheat life/society's expectations/the routine for a limited amount of time because after all sleep is a biological need but she does not mind because she enjoys this time awake. I believe that sacrificing her sanity for her identity is correct and she is therefore victorious since she ends up being true to herself and no one else.

rvalle said...

The woman in "Sleep" is searching to free herself from the masses and in particular her routine. It is this constant repetition that enslaves her mind and her soul. Therefore her insomnia is not her limitation but her key to freedom and happiness. It is then in this time while others sleep that she finds her space and finds herself the time to define who she is. She wants to be able to define her time and not let time define her. This idea reflects on women having to find their own space of creativity and of intellectual freedom.

x.iglesias said...

Brilliantly, almost effortlessly, all concept of "time" as we know it and as we use it in its conventional form is destroyed by the simplest of acts: awakening. Awakening to the innermost truth of oneself, and becoming as close to one's reality as is humanly possible, is explored deeply in this story, and we feel the prose groping inside our skulls, pulling out our identities, and shoving them under our respective noses with each of the protagonist's intimate discoveries of herself. Time is distorted past what is expected and, mind-bendingly, stretched right up to the breaking point, the point where our protagonist's "car" is about to shift its balance fully and topple over.

I believe that whether or not she is victorious at the end is irrelevant and inconsequential. As in all great quests, what is important is the truth of the quest itself; Holden Caulfield did not "win or lose" in the face of the world of phonies, and Gilgamesh wasn't victorious or otherwise in his search for immortality. It is the truth that comes within the search itself, within our protagonist's--both physical and spiritual--awakening, that reverbates deep within the recesses of identity and soul.

Anonymous said...

thanks to all commentators. I just finished reading the story and was troubled out of sleep... searched the net for help in understanding this anigmatic and restless story. found a few clues. Maybe I will finally sleep now.

PaolaH said...

The protagonist has lost her identity by being entrapped by routine and repetition. This is why she stops sleeping and looks for time and ways to please herself instead of only her family as she dose through the day. She redefines her identity by dedicating nighttime to the things she used to like and re-finding the essence of her personality. She is victorious in the sense that she regains her space but at the same time she isn’t because she can only do so at night and not freely during the day where she is still bound to “the duties of a housewife”. She only manages to create her own secret world instead of integrating new things to the real one.

Jose Pablo Zayas said...

In this excerp of sleep the reader can identify that the main theme in this selection is the constant quest of the women, although she suffers from insomnia, of trying to find herself her identity in through her surroundings and daily life. She feels entrap due to her daily routine so basically all the days of her life are the same. She uses the time that she is sleeping to analyze life in different perspectives.In a moment of the story after she finishes reading she begings to look and analyze every detail in her life which can help her find her self in her world. She questions herself about if she is the one who really is sleeping or if the world around her is the one sleepng while she is the only one awake. At the end she is abble to find her identity answering the purpose of her quest of finding her self identity in the world.

j.feng said...

I am going to analyze the concept of time for the woman in Sleep by Murakami. The woman before her insomnia did not have any time dedicated to herself. She felt as if she was a machine, entirely consumed by the routine she had to adapt to. However, after the beginning of the insomnia, she developed another mind – on that focuses on herself only instead of her family. Instead of feeling sick from the insomnia, she felt revitalized; time for her now included a space that has brandy, books, and things that she enjoys.

The women does not obtain victory in the end because she succumbs to the men and loses the symbolic key that she has to her soul and enjoyment, as well as her car which represents freedom gets toppled over. She loses her escape, and perhaps even her sanity.

André Escudero said...

The woman in "Sleep" at the beginning seemed content with her repetitive chores as a house wife and mom, everything she did revolved around her child and husband even going to the pool I believe is for her husband, because she wants to maintain her figure for him. Though everything changed when she lost the ability to sleep after the dream of the old man,this is a strange way of giving her extra time for herself. After she woke up from the dream she began drinking brandy and eating chocolate again,things she stopped because of her husband. Through the sleepless night she begins to think of herself as not "normal" and "insane", her in ability to sleep has freed her from her repetitive life and she became who she once was before.

Slava K said...

In “Sleep” by Murakami Haruki the protagonist is struggling to regain her identity. The marriage turned her into housewives with its constant routine. She is trapped by that routine of her chores and has no time to do activities that she did before the marriage. The loss of sleep provided enough time to do all the things that the main character wanted, like reading books and eating chocolate. Throughout the story she is struggling to regain her true self back by slowly doing what she wants. In the end she lost as she was driving in her car, doing what she wants (freedom), she is trapped and stopped by a group of men.

J.Garcia said...

In Murakami’s “Sleep” we can see the protagonist’s quest to escape from the daily routines and tendencies that entrap her. The daily routines and tendencies made her lose, throughout the years, her identity. Everyday she cooked, swam, and cleaned; since she was so accustomed to this, she could do it without even thinking about it, and therefore you could say she really “sleeps” while doing her daily routines. During the night, though, she’s not able to sleep. She then claims that time and space for herself. She gets to read, eat chocolate, and drink alcohol (Things that she hadn’t done in a long time). During the story, the woman redefines/transforms her identity when she takes the time she used to sleep for herself. Her inability to sleep made her happy, since she’s doing things she enjoys. At the end, she sees herself as pretty since she is emotionally satisfied.

I do not think the protagonist was victorious because she could only claim her space and be joyful during the night. No one really knew she had that time for herself during the night. She was able to redefine herself and be happy, but the repeating routine in the morning still consumed her.

Alexandra Redondo said...

In “Sleep” by Murakami Haruki the protagonist redefines her identity by taking more time to focus on herself, since she can't sleep, she finds ways to begin to understand and comprehend who she really is and why she is how she is, in other words, she begins to find her identity. When she begins to regain her identity, she realized that she used to live in a routine and she had lost the essence of life and things she really loved, like eating while reading and drinking. This is why the concept of time and her redefining her identity go hand in hand, because since she couldn't sleep and she had more extra time, she used it for herself.
The protagonist's quest is that of finding her true self, and of not letting routines and tendencies redefine her or her daily life, this is how she claims her space.

Gilberto V. said...

In "Sleep" by Murakami, the protagonist tries to redefine both her identity and her time.

She unconsciously began to deteriorate her true identity the instant she married her husband and became even worse when she gave birth to her child. She is now a typical housewife who has certain, already established, responsabilities she has to take care of as part of her "job". As this starts to set in and time transcends by, she falls into the dreaded routine which is what gives the sensation she describes as sleeping while being awake because of the fact that this tires her. She isn't herself anymore because the duties of wife and mother is too great for her to handle and still be herself. As it says in the text, she transforms to a sort of automatic machine that follows a strict pattern through out the day. She attempts to solve this dilemma by not wasting her time. She chooses to avoid sleeping completely so she can use that spare time to luxuriate on what she considers indulgences such as drinking brandy, reading books, and driving around, etc. By doing this she feels that she is recovering her genuine identity because she is free to do what she finds best for herself; not worrying of what is best for others. Her true awakening, or reality, is when she leaves behind her old, dull, and gray life and enters a new, and more invigorating one.

From my perspective, I see the ending as a direct metaphor to her life. Eventhough she was briefly content in her own little world, referring to the car, and doing what she enjoyed most, which was thinking, she was still aggravated by two enourmous dark shadows. I relate those shadowy figures to both her husband and child; that eventhough she might attempt to save her identity from total obliteration, she is still unable to compete against the reality that lies behind her and ultimately, no matter how hard she tries, she will lose.

maru lombi said...

My first impression of the female character in "Sleep" was that her days were spent constantly in entrapment, starting when she was young and suffered her time of insomnia or even before that. Essentially, her daily life is affected by the concept of sleeping, whether literal or metaphorical [being trapped in her routine, for example] and it is portrayed in two ways - either she gave in to this constant sleepiness, this constant resting in order to awake to another of her mechanical days, or she rejected it in order to "awake" to singular days; so, by not sleeping, she doesn't "awake regularly" but "awakes on her own." Her quest consisted on struggling against this entrapment she was found in constantly, which was reminded to her in surreal ways such as the appearance of the old man in her "trance". After the concept of sleep is redefined, the concept of time becomes twisted and abstract, almost invisible for her. She takes brings more time to herself but by not resting is, on the other side, lowering her "time"[time of life, time of sanity] as well. There, the concept of time becomes ironic and even sinister, where Time doesn't want to be redefined by the character even if she feels she is doing it so. By feeling she can control her time, the character regains control of her identity and self, transforming her psyche and physical appearance, therefore controlling how she manages herself in her time. And in the end, she seems to become victim of insanity, of a lack of balance between her own self and the self she has created in her routine, which she can't escape completely. I think this doesn't make her victorious at the end; if she was, she attained what she wanted for a short time and maybe it was worth it, but in the sense of beating Time, she was not successful. I think she could have regained time instead of redefining it, and also create her own world based on concentration alone, not on the constant distraction the routine brings [because little spasms of concentration daily, as I see it, turns out to be a big distraction].

Leyla J. said...

While reading the story, I for once felt the emotions the woman felt. This made me feel more attracted to the story, which I find the writer has captured well.
In the story, one of the main themes I can analyze at the moment, would be how she redefines her identity. She finds her true self unexpectedly, while finding out that her brain and her body are not in need of sleep and rest. While figuring out what to do to waste time, she realizes she could use the night time for her self and to do the activities she used to enjoy before marriage. She drank alcohol to calm her nerves, she ate chocolate, and read books of her choice.
At the beginning of the story, she feels entrapped not only in her own house, but in her own body. She did house chores routinely, feeling like a robot that her husband and son saw as their wife or mother. After the period of not sleeping began, she rebelled against her own self proving to herself that doing the things that she loved still felt good.
What does the word, victorious mean? It's an adjective that means "having won". Is the character victorious? I sure think so! She gained her old identity back, even if she died in the end, she died happy and peacefully.

mela_dancer said...

In “Sleep”, the woman is on a quest to be free. I don’t think it’s a struggle for her to lose sleep; she actually benefits from being awake 24/7: She uses this extra time to find herself, find her space, her escape from reality. She regains who she was: starts doing what she did before she was married (read). She saw it as an obligation and a dispensable activity to be with her family. She preferred to live in "Anna Karenina" than be present with them. In the end she is victorious at having “a room of her own”, with the cost of knowing that it is not a reality only an illusion, since her reality was being consumed by her family.

Adrián DJ said...

In this story, we see how a young woman struggles to regain all that she has sacrificed for her marriage and motherhood. Mere hobbies like reading and eating chocolate bring her back to the days when she had a proper identity in college. With a strange lack of tiredness, she manages to regain her identity in the night; while everybody else sleeps, she does as she pleases. The protagonist refinds herself in the night, but goes back to her previous housewife routine during the day. I'd say she is not victorious, considering she still has to pretend to be someone she clearly isn't.

Huyke x) said...

The woman in "Sleep" redefines her identity in the story by rediscovering what she used to enjoy the most at night when she's by herself. Things like chocolate, drinking, driving, and especially reading are the things that used to make her happy because she loved doing them and they represented her personality, her identity, but as time passed by over the years she has lost all of her hobbies so slowly that it just hit her that she has lost herself, she has changed. Not only has she changed her personality, but her family duties as a mother have strongly influenced her new submissive and shallow personality that benefits her family, but not herself. In the process of redefining her identity she notices that all her memories from the time before she "...stopped sleeping seem to be moving away with accelerating speed". Then she adds, "as if the me who used to go to sleep every night is not the real me... ", and she feels like those memories weren't even hers at all. This shows that her true self is the one she has recently discovered at night, and her daily motherly self is like another person inside her with fading memories because her real self is taking over. By the end of the story it is clear that even though she managed to stay sane and fully functional for 17 days without sleeping, she lost her sanity at the end. Therefore, she is not victorious because she never revealed that part of her to anyone. She will most possibly be killed in her car by the shadow men that were surrounding her, and even before that she started thinking about death too. Another way this could be seen is that she actually is victorious at the end because she will die, and will no longer have to stay awake pretending to be another person. She will finally rest in peace.

ValerieL. said...

In Murakami's "Sleep" the protagonist has unconsciously lost her identity. As the years went by she slowly but willingly left behind the pieces of who she was. Now after many years she finally awoke to this and now she's trying to pick up the pieces of her fragmented identity. By not sleeping she has claimed her space and her own time. The protagonist is aware that what is happening to her is not normal and she also knows that by continuing this she will shorten her life span and die sooner, but since she is finally in command of her life and her space she will do anything to prolong this moment in her life. Although the protagonist has finally conquered her space, her behavior is self-destructive. The woman that she automatically acts out during the day and the woman she has become at night are unable to unite. So much that it drives her to the edge.

Gabo said...

Murakami's "Sleep" talks about a wife that can't sleep and starts reading at night, every night. Her personality changes during time. This represents how woman get in touch with their true identity, and how hard it might be to do this. When she can't sleep and starts reading she lives a second life, in which she feels free and opened to think and act as she want since she can't do that during the day because of society. At the end of the story we can see that she is realy a normal woman with normal feelings in a "normal" society, and that she only wants time to escape of that reality to be the woman that she truly is inside.

Rafa T. said...

In ''Sleep'' we can observe that the concept of time play a very important role in the plot of the story. The protagonists rely on time to encompass all the changing she needs to do, to redefine her identity. Moreover, she is able, in a certain degree to live a second life under the power of time and also thanks to her husband and son heavy sleeps. At the end we can observe however, that she is not victorious because we see how she start to question her identify and this doubt make her a more harm physically and emotionally leaving her with insanity. Although it can be analyze in other way, as if insanity is her way out of routine and her final goal in her quest to find her identity.

Luisga R. said...

In this reading, we see how the female character redefines the concept of time. When she begins to experience her sleeplessness, she becomes the person she wants to be. Its only during the night that she does as she pleases, and concentrates on herself. During the day, she lives the routine of a married woman, taking care of her husband, her child, and a household. In a symbolic way, this is the time she spends asleep, giving in to what society expects of her.

At the end, she does not succeed; she is overpowered. She has no real control over her life, and decides to give up and give in.

Maria B. Bazan said...

When the main character lost her ability to sleep, she gained a sense of awareness that she had, until that moment, lacked. Feeling she could see everything more clearly, she began to introspect about how her life had changed since she had gotten married. Immediately, she noticed that, throughout the years, in order to please her husband, she had given up many of the things she felt helped define her, such as her love for reading. For this reason, the protagonist embarked on a quest to regain her identity and claim her own space by creating a sort of double life in which she was free to do as she pleased. In the end, though the lack of sleep affected her negatively, she managed to hold on to a part of herself that she thought was gone forever, making her successful in her quest.

micanellas said...

In Mukarami’s “Sleep”, a struggle is presented between the woman and the tendencies she followed in her daily life. She experiences an awakening that allowed her to see herself for who she truly was and discovered all the wrong things in her life. Before the awakening, this woman was trapped in her own existence by being the perfect mother and wife, as well as unconsciously changing who she was as in order to achieve this. When she realized what had happened to her, she changed again. She was no longer able to live in a life led by routines, instead she went back to doing the things she enjoyed, such as reading, eating chocolate, and drinking, as well as new activities like the small outings at night. Through her awakening, she found who she was and with this knowledge, she couldn’t go back to being the same woman her family believed her to be. Her experience is similar to that explained in “The Allegory of the Cave” in that once the character knows the truth, she can’t go back to ignorance; she is cursed to never forget the knowledge she has gained. As the woman in “Sleep” began changing who she was by getting out of the routine, she changed the whole concept of time, and this ultimately freed her. The time she was supposed to be sleeping, was the time when she was the most awake, symbolizing that she was free to do what se desired when she was in her lonesome.

At the end of the story the woman is not victorious in her quest to break free from the entrapment of society, due to the fact that she was only able to be herself, and break the routine, in secret. Neither her husband nor her son found out about all the time she spent awake at night, therefore she was living a double life; the life during the day in which she acted as her old self by acting as if she was following the routine, and at night when she was free and did what made her happy. The double life she was leading finally caught up with her at the end and she was not able to control herself anymore, thus destroying who she was completely.

AdrianG said...

In the story "Sleep" we are introduced to a character who some might say suffers from insomnia. But the character somehow has found a way to defeat a human weakness we all have and by doing so breaks away from her boring and lethargic routine that she suffers from everyday. Through defeating sleep she is able to redefine time, and enjoy the things she used to while she was in college such as chocolate, drinking, and reading, and thus unleash her true self. This breaking away from sleep helps her attain freedom. She is completely different in that normal people are more energetic and lively during the day and more calm and burned out from their day at night, when it is the exactly the opposite of how the protagonist is described in "Sleep". In the end the main character is not victorious because the conflicting emotions inside of her get the better of her and take her to the edge of insanity. This doubt in her mind overcomes her, and revokes her freedom.

MSarahBazan said...

In Haruki Murakami's short story, "Sleep", the protagonist is a woman who, for unknown reasons, loses her need to sleep.  

Although she found this very strange, she did not feel that she needed to seek help for this condition; instead, she considered that "fixing" this condition would only serve as a way of limiting her freedom.  To her, this new spare time was the only time of the day that she could devote to herself and indulge in her whims.

Unwittingly, the speaker embarked on a quest to find herself by regressing to her former identity, he one she had abandoned after getting married.  She began to take up activities that she had denied herself in order to please her husband.  Small pleasures such as entertaining herself with a good book and enjoying a drink or a piece of chocolate that used to define her identity did so once again.  This woman had completely separated the hours in her day; during the morning hours, she would willingly take up the roles of housekeeper, mother, and wife, but after her family was asleep, she would be the version of herself that she never meant to leave behind. 

She did this for about seventeen days, in which she was successful in regaining her personality, but the lack of sleep eventually took a toll on her health.  She began to have violent hallucinations and eventually went insane.

A. Toledo said...

Insomnia is when a person has difficulty falling asleep, yet yearns to fall asleep. In the short story, “Sleep”, the main character describes her sleeplessness as an advantage and not insomnia because she no longer has a desire to sleep. Before this incident, she looked at herself in the mirror and considered that her face was simply unappealing, but after she no longer needed to sleep, the woman begins to appreciate how she looks and begins to consider herself as beautiful. She embarks on a journey in which she begins to redefine her past identity or lack of it. The woman begins to remember all of the things that she used to love before she got married and wonders why she stopped doing them. She decides to live a “double life” so to speak; in the morning she does her daily monotonous routine: make breakfast, say goodbye to her husband, taking care of her child, among others. During the night, since both her husband and child are heavy sleepers, she decides to spend time for herself. Eating chocolate, drinking brandy, and taking midnight drives are some of the activities that she begins to do and enjoy at night. She begins to create a space of her own, an alternate reality in which she can be truly happy. As she said, she separates mind and body, thus having a dual identity without anybody noticing. She also no longer enjoys socializing because it gives her less time to explore her new solitary identity. Her whole being changes, yet still appears to remain the same to others; she perfected the act of completely severing the connection between mind and body. In the end of the story, being deprived of sleep begins to affect her and she becomes entrapped by a group of men, thus losing her attained, yet short-lived freedom. She is physically defeated, but being able to regain her identity, space, and liberty made her truly victorious.

Giangabriel said...

In Murakimi's story "Sleep" the concept of time and her identiy are intertwined. As the main character begins to find more time for herself, her identity slowly becomes her's again. Time for her is limiting and only serves to entrap her in a routine where she no longer is herself, she is only what her hisband and son expect her to be. The lack of sleep expands the time in which she can have her own identity. Therefore the redefinition of time on this story enables her have an identity, but subsequently leads to her downfall. In the end she finds herself trapped (again) by two men and in her hesitation loses her keys, thus losing the control of not only her car, but her life. I viewed the car as a metaphor of her life and the keys as the control which she posses. Ultimately we can see that as soon as men enter her life she consequently loses herself and her control, and therefore loses her identity.

Anonymous said...

I read the story few days ago.. and I just can´t stop thinking about it, every day I remember smth new about this story that I forgot because the so called upside down ending.. But I believe that the woman in this story died 17 days ago and haven´t realized it... If you recall the night when she stopped sleeping: about some old man watering her legs - I think it is actually happening, that the old man is watering her, but in graveyard her tomb.."After some time, the man raised the pitcher and began pouring water from it onto my feet. I could not feel the water. I could see it and hear it splashing down on my feet, but I couldn’t feel a thing."
"I woke at the climatic moment―came fully awake with a start, as if something had dragged me back at the last moment from a fatal turning point. Had I remained immersed in the dream for another second, I would have been lost forever." - I think she is stuck between 2 worlds, her soul almost went to the other side, but smth pulled her back and left her in between 2 worlds..
I have many theories how she died, but I´m not sure... but the ending of a story - I think she finds herself in the coffin and realizes she´s dead and cries, because she doesn´t know what to do... or maybe she was the victim - "“There was a murder here last month,” he said. “Three young men attacked a couple, killed the man, and raped the woman.” I remembered having read about the incident. I nodded. “If you don’t have any business here, Ma’am, you’d better not hang around here at night.”" - maybe she lost her mind after the incident and lived in past..her man was dead and that´s why she was about to forgetting her man´s face and didn´t know how to draw it..
I think I need to read it once or twice more!! The story is great!
But does anyone agree with me that she might be in between 2 worlds?

Anonymous said...

A few things that I haven't seen addressed in the foregoing comments:

1. The woman's hiding and eating of chocolate is reminiscent of Nora in "A Doll's House," who went through a similar metamorphosis of character. I recall that "A Doll's House" was very popular in China during the early 20th century; I wonder if it had similar resonance in Japan.

2. In describing her experience of insomnia in college, the woman states, "My body had no more feeling than a drowned corpse." Perhaps the water the old man pours over her feet symbolizes the ocean of time and responsibilities she's been "drowning" in since her college days. I think the insomnia she experienced in college represents the first time her childhood freedom is threatened by societal pressures. Or perhaps it is simply her first attempt to free herself from such pressures. But at the time, she finds the two to be irreconcilable: her freedom and her obligations. Eventually, she gives in, and the insomnia disappears. She goes back to "sleep", like everyone else.

3. Water is deeply symbolic. There are multiple references to swimming vs. drowning. The woman begins swimming more as soon as she stops sleeping (i.e. "drowning"). The final scene takes place on the waterfront. There are hints that, like Anna Karenina, the woman has committed suicide, and, like Edna in "The Awakening," she has drowned herself.

4. She uses the analogy of a car to explain how sleeping restores the body. Sleeping is like "resting the engine." At the end of the story, she is in her car, and the engine is dead. Perhaps like herself.

5. She suggests that death, rather than an eternal sleep, may be just the opposite: eternal wakefulness in an all-encompassing darkness. This is precisely the state she is in at the close of the story: "locked inside this little box" in "the middle of the night."

6. Just before the climax, she recalls an incident in which her college boyfriend tried to coerce her into having sex. She remembers refusing, but nothing else. Perhaps this incident--in which she may have been raped--is what triggered her original insomnia. This may explain why the one thing she wants from her husband is protection, why she thinks she will eventually come to despise her son. Just before she "wakes up" and has the hallucination about the old man, she is having a "repulsive" dream: "ominous and terrifying," a "dark, slimy dream." There is also the scene in which the cop stops to warn her about the woman who was raped recently. The details begin to add up....

chikusho said...

First of all, no need to debate wether or not she had the disease insomnia as the story clearly states that she does not know what's happening to her.

Finally I wanted to chime in with the detail that I got the impression that she drowned in her car at the end, since she was at the waterfront and she remarked that her arms were soaked. Also, I don't believe she ever opened her eyes again after she talked about staring in to the sleepless darkness.

Finally, There's a symbolic meaning to the fact that 2 men rocked the car in which she was alone. Possibly her husband and son, on either side, banging on her newly found personal space to get her back to her ordinary life.

john smith said...

Kuchh din nahin umar bhar ki saza suna do……vitamin B