The Memory Police

by

Yoko Ogawa

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The Memory Police: Chapter 27  Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The woman is surprised that she doesn’t hate the typing teacher as much as she should. Even though he stole her voice and locked her away in the tower, she is somehow moved when he shows her a small kindness. She knows its “foolish,” but she’s just being honest. She wonders if this is because she’s becoming more and more attached to the room. She notices that she isn’t able to see as well as she used to. She bumps into objects in the room. Somehow, though, she is still able to see the typist—in fact, she can see him even better now.
Again, it’s likely that the typing teacher stands in for the Memory Police or for the disappearances. The fact that the woman’s whole life is now the teacher mirrors the way the narrator and most people on the island feel—that a force greater than them is controlling their lives, and that they are powerless to stop it.
Themes
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
One day, the woman hears steps coming up the stairs that are not the teacher’s. She wonders who they might belong to and thinks that the person approaching must be a young woman—she can tell by the gait. The woman hears three knocks on the door, and she thinks this is her one and only opportunity to escape. She argues with herself in her mind and begins to sweat as she stays completely still and silent. Eventually, the woman outside the door moves away, back down the stairs. The woman in the room realizes that she will never be able to rejoin the world outside.
This is a pivotal moment in the manuscript because it shows that the woman gives up trying to get out of the locked door. This mirrors the way many people on the island, in the larger narrative, have given up their resistance to the disappearances.
Themes
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
That night, the typing teacher appears with more strange clothing, though the woman notices that they’re not as elaborate as pieces he used to bring. She’s disappointed. The typist asks if someone came up there today, and when he realizes that someone did, and that the woman didn’t ask for help, he is smug—he knew that she was already “absorbed” by the room. He tells the woman that the other woman has a beautiful voice, and that he thinks he will trap her voice in the typewriter next.
The fact that the teacher no longer cares about the woman is very sad because of what it symbolizes in the larger world—namely, that the people who gave up so much of their lives without a fight ultimately did it for nothing.
Themes
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The typing teacher stops visiting the room frequently. He barely brings food anymore and hardly looks at the woman when he visits. She feels like each body part is disappearing without his touch, as though her body is vanishing into the room. When she fills the sink in the corner with water and puts her legs in, she feels nothing.
The manuscript takes its final tragic turn, and the woman disappears into nothing. This again shows the way the narrator feels like she is hardly even a body anymore.
Themes
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
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Eventually, the typing teacher no longer visits the woman. She loses track of time and of her body. She thinks that she might as well not worry, that it will all be over soon. One day, she hears footsteps—two pairs, a man and woman. By the time the pair reach the door and the man turns the key, the woman in the room understands that all of her being has been “absorbed silently into the room.” She thinks that “the final moment has come.”
The manuscript’s resolution does not leave much hope for the one remaining chapter in the book. The woman feels the way the narrator feels, which is that “the final moment” is upon her and that she will be “absorbed” into the world and cease to exist.
Themes
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon