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Rachelle Yoojung Moon Close-Reading Argumentative Essay September 11, 2013 The Aesthetics that Blind the True


The desire for preservation is instinctive to any art collector who wants to everlastingly capture an artworks captivating beauty. But what if this artwork was a human being? Haruki Murakami, in After Dark, exposes an exquisite character Eri who is trapped and lost within her own sleep. Her physical beauty is so appealing, even to her own sister Mari, that she desires to preserve her: Eri becomes the artwork; Mari, the art collector. Murakami mocks this humanely preference for the external allure over the internal importance, which blinds Mari from yet realizing the need to save her sister. Murakami purposefully characterizes the two sisters with contrasting identities: Eri as this stunning yet transparent celebrity, and Mari as an ordinary student whose attributes are focused on her inner qualities (200). Thus, like the concept that opposites attract, it may be natural for Mari to scrutinize her sisters beauty, almost to the extent of jealousy. Yet, the way she describes her sister is none of the ordinary, nearly implying a desire for Eri to stay trapped within her sleep, crystallized in time and space. When Mari asserts that her sister is more beautiful asleep than when shes awake, this demonstrates a sense of preference--the inactivity of Eri amplifies her aesthetic qualities (200). However, the pessimism of this idea is revealed when we fathom that such lack of action is equivalent to lacking consciousness. Although Eri, the artwork

displayed, may be more beautiful unmoving, her life as a human being is being stripped; her inner-self, totally ignored from society--even from her own sister. But why would Mari prefer her sister to be essentially dead? Does jealousy come into play? Considering that the spotlight has always been on Eri, forcing Mari into the shadows, envy may be a natural phenomenon of emergence. However, she describes Eri with a greater tone of admissibility rather than covetousness, emphasizing Maris consciousness to her sisters external beauty as a single, untouchable work of art. It is as if she knows that Eris physical allure cannot be taken away, not only because it is literally impossible to change her appearance with her sister, but also because her sister is nothing without her external charm. Instead, Maris heart races just seeing her [Eri] that way, alluding to a physical response of obsession grown out by the captivity of her beauty (200). Nonetheless, Murakami foreshadows a sense of character change through the ambiguity presented by Mari as she describes the beauty of her sister. Before accounting that Eri is more beautiful asleep than being awake, Mari hesitates, a sign of uncertainty and doubt (200). Although she resultantly admits this secret, Murakami elucidates a confession, demonstrating an unconscious feeling of guilt: she feels responsible to look deeper into her sisters internality, but her interests are concentrated merely on Eris aesthetic values (200). Murakami not only exemplifies this dilemma in her speech (she states that she may be her sister and that this may sound strange), he also resembles this through duality (200). Mari asserts that her heart races when she sees Eri asleep. While this condition usually resembles excitement--in this case, possibly Maris ecstasy triggered by Eris beauty, it also represents a possible sense of fear, a subconscious emotion of her self-conscience to save her Sleeping Beauty from a mere lifeless

barbie doll (200). Once Mari realizes to value her sisters internality over her externality, she will discover her obligation as Eris prince, rescuing her from a world of unmoving time. Despite the ideal relationship readers would infer between two sisters, Murakamis characterization of Eri and Mari demonstrates an exaggeration of societys regard without appreciating the inner qualities that truly represent an individual. Mari is too captivated by her sisters beauty that she mistakes Eri as a soulless painting. She needs to break the spell, but will she ever want to? Although Murakami hints that Mari will later realize her duty to rescue Eri, there is another possibility. Mari may still be striving to keep her sister crystallized, so that she could be with her forever.

Works Cited Page. Murakami, Haruki. After Dark. Vintage International. 2008. Print.