The Memory Police


Yoko Ogawa

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The Memory Police: Chapter 11  Summary & Analysis

After 10 days, this new way of living together is still a bit strange. The narrator finds herself thinking about the room often, and she is not making much progress on her novel. Though she can’t hear any noise coming from the hideaway, she realizes that this lack of noise from R makes her “all the more conscious” that he is there. Eventually, though, they settle into a routine, and some nights they eat dinner together and talk.
As R is cut off from most of the world, he and the narrator get closer. This speaks to the way that people can sometimes find intimacy through difficult, trying situations.
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Although R is very grateful, it’s clear to the narrator that he’s not totally comfortable in the tight, plain space. The two sit together one, sharing food. They are very close together in the confines of the room. The narrator asks R what it feels like to remember everything. R admits that he doesn’t remember everything, that some memories fade for him too. But it’s not the same as what most people who are victim to the disappearances experience, because he doesn’t feel like his memories have been “pulled up by the root.”
R opens up to the narrator in the secret room in a way that he didn’t in the outside world. This is perhaps because he feels close to her since she knows his secret, and it shows how sharing intimate parts of oneself usually creates connection. The way that R talks about memory is also noteworthy, because it sets up a direct contrast between how the narrator’s mind works and how R’s mind operates. Their different relationships to memory will prove hard to overcome later in the story.
Memory and Connection  Theme Icon
The narrator wonders what it might feel like holding R’s heart in her hand, and if by holding his heart she would be able to feel everything that she’s lost. He asks her if she’d really like to remember all of the things that she’s forgotten, but she isn’t sure. She admits that she feels like the only reason she’s been able to write for as long as she has is because she’s had R’s heart next to her the whole time. He’s glad to hear this.
The narrator and R start talking to each other in a very honest, intimate way that suggests they might become even closer in the future. They both feel that they can trust each other, which is a huge component of their relationship. The narrator also feels creatively inspired by R, which attracts him to her. She is also attracted to him because he remembers everything, which is somewhat inspirational to her at this point.
Memory and Connection  Theme Icon
The next day, the publishing house calls and assigns the narrator a new editor. He is plain and small, and he asks the narrator when she’ll be finished with her novel—something R never did. After they talk about her manuscript, she casually asks this man if he knows what has happened to R. The new editor says that he disappeared, which was quite shocking. The narrator says that she has some of R’s records and asks the new editor to let her know if he finds out where R is.
The new editor’s lack of appreciation for the narrator’s creative process (by asking her when she’ll be finished) only makes the narrator like R more, since he respects her work. The narrator fishing around to see if anybody knows anything about R shows that she’s getting savvy and that she knows how she has to behave to keep R safe.
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
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The narrator and the old man figure out how to communicate with R’s wife, who is now living with her parents while she waits to give birth. R’s wife leaves items in a designated pick-up spot, and the old man brings them to the house. The narrator asks how the wife is doing, and the old man says that she’s confused but being strong, and she’s grateful to the narrator and the old man for hiding R. The old man hands the narrator an envelope with some things to bring up to R, and she takes them up to him.
It's thoughtful that the old man and the narrator work out a system to correspond with R’s wife, which again shows how well they’ve thought out their plan. R is a mysterious person, and his connection to his wife is not all that developed, but she is pregnant, so it’s important that R stay in contact with her. The wife’s reaction to R’s confinement shows that she is brave and that she, too, may even have seen something like this coming, since people are vanishing more and more on the island. 
Authoritarianism and Surveillance Theme Icon