It’s a pretty weird thing to do to climb down a well when you’re feeling confused about life, but at least it makes sense. Some sort of sense, anyway. It makes less sense to calmly trap somebody when they’re down a well, taking away the ladder and covering up the opening. Doing that is even weirder. At least climbing down a well is harmless. Toru Okada doesn’t bother anyone. He’s a pretty normal guy, too, spending his days cooking and searching for his cat. (That’s how he ends up meeting May.) Still, people always find him strange. May Kasahara (who calls him “Mister Wind-Up Bird”) finds him especially so. Which is funny, since she’s far from normal. May doesn’t play a pivotal role in the plot, but she’s always there, with her dreamy reveries about death and duck people. She doesn’t really do anything (the first time we see her, she’s enjoying a mellow summer day), but her presence is important, for Toru Okada as well as the reader.
Murakami seems to enjoy writing about strange teenage girls as much as he does apparently normal adult men. The same sort of character appears again in Dance Dance Dance and 1Q84, though neither are quite like May. The former is younger, and a bit more argumentative, while the latter is kind of like Rei Ayanami. Murakami isn’t an expert when it comes to writing women (at times, it makes me uneasy), but for all their flaws, I still like these characters.