The Mirror – Haruki Murakami
The story is set in Japan. The narrator is part of a story telling session and it is in that session that he narrates an experience he had early in his life.
The narrator tells the story of an experience he had after graduating from high school.
After graduating he had joined a group of hippies –people who believed that doing manual jobs instead of going to college for further education to get better paying jobs was the honest way to live. The narrator therefore got himself a job as a night watchman of an institution.
As part of his job the narrator was supposed to make two rounds each day checking facilities in the institution. He would be armed with a flash light and a wooden sword as he went about his rounds.
One night he experiences something unusual during his rounds. It was quite a dark night and he saw his own reflection in a mirror. The image seems to a little different from him. He is so shocked that he drops the cigarette.
The narrator, out of fear, smashes the mirror with his sword. Then he runs to his room, locks the door and leaps under the covers. The following day he discovers that there was no mirror – it was a creation of his own mind. He concludes that the most frightening thing in the word is oneself.
An illusion is a false image of something. An illusion is created by ones mind.
In The Mirror the narrator sees an imaginary image of himself on the mirror. The image scares him. He had refused to join college and chose to move around Japan doing odd menial jobs instead. He has a false image of himself and of life. The image he sees on the imaginary mirror is scary because it is a true image of what he has become after refusing to join university. By refusing to use mirrors for the rest of his life the narrator is afraid to look at the true image of himself.
The Mirror subtly examines the importance of education. The narrator is scared of looking at what he become after turning down an opportunity to join the university. The reality that he is a failure is hard for him to confront.