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Kuznitz 1

Alison Kuznitz
Professor Reiko Tachibana
CMLIT 107U
16 December 2015
A comparison of Tsukuru, Rama, and Brides traumatic experiences
In life, people are constantly faced with obstacles and adversity.
Some individuals are able to quickly rise above such issues, not
allowing negativity to harmfully redefine their mentalities. For others,
distressing events have the potential to fester indefinitely. In Colorless
Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage (2014) by Haruki Murakami,
Tsukuru undervalued himself for years following his friends
abandonment. Rama was forced to relinquish her happiness once her
husband became a polygamist in So Long a Letter (1980) by Mariama
B. In G-d Help the Child (2015) by Toni Morrison, Brides
psychologically damaging upbringing propelled her into a pattern of
cultivating toxic relationships. These three novels exemplify how
traumatic experiences have the capacity to gnaw away at individuals,
negatively molding their life journeys for years to come.
In high school, Tsukuru Tazaki had four best friends who infused
his life with meaning. After they abandoned him in college, Tsukurus
life went on a downward spiral plagued by unrelenting solitude.
Severely affected by this traumatic betrayal, Tsukuru was unable to
heal for over a decade. At one point in the novel, upon seeing his
girlfriend with another man, the emotional baggage Tsukuru harbors
becomes evident: What did you expect?...A basically empty vessel

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has become empty once againPeople come to him, discover how
empty he is, and leave (Murakami 208). Despite all his
accomplishments and positive attributes, Tsukuru always reaches this
same deluded conclusion. Once he feels rejected by Sara, his
automatic instinct is to permit feelings of self-doubt and
purposelessness to seep into his mind. This reaction is a testimony to
his friends abandonment, and the lingering trauma it inflicts on his
every action and thought. Thus, Tsukurus self-destructive behavior is
solely rooted in the abrupt dissolution of his friendships, showcasing
that adverse incidents can significantly alter a persons emotional
travels in life for the worse.
After three decades of a loving marriage, Rama is traumatically
thrust aside once Modou takes a second wife. This abandonment
shatters Ramas lifestyle well into the future. She states multiple times
that she is merely surviving rather than fully living: I survived. I
overcame my shyness at going alone to cinemasI would feign
indifference, while anger hammered against my nerves and the tears I
held back welled up against my eyes (B 51). Rama undoubtedly
believed she would grow old with Modou. Unfortunately, her path in life
that promised companionship altered to one filled with solitude. To
make matters worse, she was incapable of relinquishing her love for
Modou and finally attaining closure until years later. Tsukuru and
Ramas abandonment serve as markedly similar catalysts in their

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respective novels. Surrounded by auras of negativity and loneliness,
both protagonists struggle to cope on a long-term basis with the
pervasive trauma that destroyed their previous lives. It is important to
note that Rama engaged in healthier coping mechanisms in the face of
distress, such as attending cinemas as a distraction. Conversely,
Tsukuru was sleepwalking through life (Murakami 4), thereby
permitting himself to utterly succumb to the agony.
As a child, Bride was emotionally undernourished. Instead of
relishing in Sweetness motherly love, she was either punished or
neglected as a result of her dark complexion. This damaging motherdaughter bond drove Bride to forge unhealthy relationships later in life.
Bride claims Brooklyn, her best friend, is the one person [she] can
trust (Morrison 22). Yet, as the novel progresses, it becomes clear
Brooklyn is only concerned with her self-interests. Unbeknownst to
Bride, Brooklyn attempts to seduce her boyfriend: One day just for fun
I flirted with him, tried to seduce him. In her own bedroom, mind you
(59). Bride deserves respect and genuine friendship, neither of which
Brooklyn offers. Brides propensity to surround herself with harmful
influences is a direct consequence of her traumatic childhood. Just as
Tsukuru underestimates his value to society in the aftermath of his
friends betrayal, Bride cannot set higher expectations for herself while
cling[ing] to...some long ago trouble and pain (158). Likewise, Brides
trauma parallels that of Ramas. Both women are transformed by

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suffering when they cannot satisfy their deepest desires. Bride
desperately wanted to feel loved by Sweetness, and Rama similarly
was consumed by her longing for Modou. Moreover, Rama and Bride
attempt to lead semblances of a normal life in spite of their traumatic
experiences. Rama continues to be a loving mother and a devout
follower of Islam. For better or worse, Bride drastically changes her
appearance and grows preoccupied by her career. On the other hand,
Tsukuru mentally shuts down and becomes a shadow of his former self.
In conclusion, Tsukuru, Rama, and Brides life journeys all
followed trauma-stricken routes that adversely shaped their personas.
Instead of recovering swiftly, the protagonists distressing incidents
infiltrated their livelihoods in ensuing years. Tsukuru and Ramas
emotional well-being was threatened when they were forced to endure
the pangs of abandonment. Sweetness, meanwhile, prevented Bride
from recognizing her inherent self-worth. Furthermore, these three
novels highlight how long-term trauma arouses unique reactions within
everyone, be it surrendering entirely to pain or dealing with negativity
in a less toxic fashion.

Works Cited

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B, Miriama. So Long a Letter. Johannesburg: Heinemann Educational,
1980. Print.
Morrison, Toni. God Help the Child. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2015.
Print.
Murakami, Haruki. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
New York:

Vintage International, 2014. Print.