The Memory Police


Yoko Ogawa

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The Memory Police: Chapter 10  Summary & Analysis

A few days later, in the office of the publishing house, the narrator tells R that she has a place for him to hide. She tells him to hurry and get himself ready, but he cuts her off saying that his wife is pregnant, and that he won’t leave her behind. The narrator says that it is the safest thing for his whole family if he goes into hiding, otherwise they are not safe either. He is very hesitant, since he has no idea how long it will be for—or if it will even end. The narrator says that no one knows what will happen in the future, and that even the Memory Police may disappear.
The Memory Police are once again tearing families apart. R’s hesitancy to leave his wife shows that he is a caring person. Ultimately, though, it’s hard to argue with the narrator’s logic, since the Memory Police are rounding up not only immune people but also their families and loved ones. R’s concern about when his confinement will end also speaks to how everything on the island is in a very precarious state and how hard it is to imagine a future in which the Memory Police don’t exist.
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The narrator continues insisting that this is the best plan for everyone. R thinks about it, admitting that the narrator seems to have gotten into a dangerous situation because of him, but she says not to mind that. She wants to keep writing novels and having him edit them. In two days, he needs to be packed and head to the train station at eight o’clock—there, an old man will approach him. R is to follow this man to the safe location.
The narrator’s relationship to R is still mostly professional, although she clearly has some strong personal feelings for him, since she’s willing to drop everything and create a hiding space for him. This shows that she is impressed by his love of stories and that she wants to preserve his memories.
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Two days later, it rains heavily. The narrator waits nervously in her home. It normally takes 25 minutes to walk to her house from the train station—after 8:25, it seems like time is moving in slow motion. She can’t see anything outside except sheets of rain. The old man and R (finally) arrive after 8:45, soaking wet. The old man tells the narrator that it all went exactly to plan, and that the rain covered their tracks.
This scene again shows the difficulty ordinary citizens have when trying to avoid surveillance by the Memory Police. The narrator waits nervously because she understands that what they are doing is very risky.
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R is surprised that the hiding space is in the narrator’s house. She tells him that they’re not working with any of the underground organizations and properly introduces him to the old man, explaining how they’ve known each other since her childhood. R is thankful for their help. The three sit in the dining room drying off and drinking tea, and afterwards, the narrator shows R to his room. R is very impressed when he sees the hideaway, observing that “it’s like a cave floating in the sky.”
R is impressed with the work that the narrator and the old man have done, calling his small room “a cave in the sky,” which shows that, while he'll be isolated, he’ll also be free. So, there is a duality to his confinement: he won’t be able to leave, but he won’t have to pretend he doesn’t remember things anymore, which will be liberating for him.
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The old man and the narrator leave R to get situated, and the narrator tells R she’ll bring him his lunch in a little while, to which he says thank you. After she closes the door to the room, she realizes how moved she is by his voice thanking her.
The narrator and R have an interesting relationship at this point—she is quite attached to him, and R admires the narrator’s writing and is appreciative of what she’s done. When R tells the narrator thank you, it seems as though she may be in love with him, which foreshadows how their relationship will grow while R is in confinement. 
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