I read this in the book "Kafka on the shore" which was:

Sometimes fate is like a small sandstorm that keeps changing directions. You change direction but the sandstorm chases you. You turn again, but the storm adjusts. Over and over you play this out, like some ominous dance with death just before dawn.

Does "some ominous dance with death just before dawn" refer to one of those dreams we dream just before dawn in which death is just is so near to us but we manage to evade it in some way"? Or "state of emerging victoriously after traversing through the storm"? I doubt the latter possibility because I think would have only been relevant when there were some reference to traversing the storm? But I'm not sure.

  • It's hard to say without more context, but I would assume the author means exactly what it says: "the time right before the sun rises". It's a dramatic metaphor in any language.
    – Andrew
    Commented Aug 23, 2019 at 17:27

2 Answers 2


Metaphorical statements in novels are often deep and hard to decipher.

As a native speaker of English, I would draw the following conclusions:

1) I agree with your feeling that "just before dawn" applies to the "dance with death" and not to the sandstorm mentioned in the previous few sentences. The topic has shifted from that sandstorm to an "ominous dance with death just before dawn."

2) I personally don't see any references to dreams in this passage, but in English, there is an expression, "It's always darkest just before the dawn." It's usually a hopeful statement meant to remind us that in the very scary darkest time, long past midnight, we will soon see the light of day. (Bad things will end, and life will get better.) So using the expression "just before dawn" seems to describe a very dark scary time (probably in any language). Perhaps the translator meant to imply a happier time coming after the dance with death is over, or maybe the "dawn" just represents the end of that time and that dance (no suggestion of a happy ending). ...I guess we will have to read on.


Or "state of emerging victoriously after traversing through the storm"?

This is a tough conclusion without further context, but I think it’s this.

Sandstorms block out the sun if you get caught in them, and if it’s following your every turn, you won’t escape despite the storm’s size. For you, inside the storm, it is night. In my opinion, changing directions to escape the storm is the ominous dance with death, and dawn is the moment when you finally manage to escape (or the storm dies off on its own)

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