The Memory Police

by

Yoko Ogawa

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The woman is the narrator and protagonist of the unnamed narrator’s manuscript, sections of which appear throughout The Memory Police. She takes typing classes and falls for her typing teacher, and the two strike up an affair. One day, the woman loses her voice, so she can only communicate to the teacher by typing to him on a typewriter. Their relationship seems typical aside from this, but it takes a turn for the worse when the teacher tricks her into following him to a room in a clock tower and locks her there. He also reveals to her that he is the one who stole her voice. At first, she wants to escape, but she eventually becomes dismally accustomed to living in the room—she even admits that she continues to find the teacher beautiful, even after he abuses her. The woman does not take her opportunity to escape when, one day, someone besides the teacher comes and knocks on the door, and after this she gives up entirely ever leaving the room. At the end of the manuscript, the woman, who has been mentally deteriorating, is simply “absorbed silently into the room, leaving no trace.” The woman’s captivity, inability to express herself, and eventual demise parallels the narrator’s own experience living under an authoritarian regime.

The Woman Quotes in The Memory Police

The The Memory Police quotes below are all either spoken by The Woman or refer to The Woman. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory and Connection  Theme Icon
).
Chapter 12  Quotes

The tapping of the key striking the paper was the only sound in the room. Snow had begun to fall again, covering the tracks I had made […] He continued to hold me tighter […] The bell in the clock tower began to chime. Five o’clock. The vibration came from far above, rattling the window glass and passing through our bodies, before being absorbed by the snow below. The only motion was the falling of the snowflakes. I held my breath, unable to move, as though locked inside the typewriter.

Related Characters: The Woman (speaker), The Unnamed Narrator (speaker), The Typing Teacher
Related Symbols: Snow
Page Number: 91
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15  Quotes

“You’ll forget you ever had a voice,” he continued. “You may find it annoying at first, until you get used to it. You’ll move your lips as you just did, go looking for a typewriter, a notepad. But soon enough you’ll see how pointless it is. You have no need to talk, no need to utter a single word. There’s nothing to worry about, nothing to fear. Then, at last, you’ll be all mine.”

Related Characters: The Typing Teacher (speaker), The Unnamed Narrator (speaker), The Woman, The Memory Police
Page Number: 131
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Memory Police LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Memory Police PDF

The Woman Character Timeline in The Memory Police

The timeline below shows where the character The Woman appears in The Memory Police. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5 
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
...in, and the river ices over. The narrator works on her new novel, about a woman—a typist—who loses her voice. The woman’s boyfriend—her typing teacher—tries to massage her throat, but the... (full context)
Chapter 6 
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
A woman climbs up a narrow staircase. It reminds her of running up a lighthouse staircase when... (full context)
Chapter 8 
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman explains that it’s been three months since she lost her voice. To communicate with her... (full context)
Memory and Connection  Theme Icon
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman remembers the first time the typing teacher showed her how to change an ink ribbon... (full context)
Chapter 12 
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman was surprised when her lover, the typing teacher, first showed up to teach typing class,... (full context)
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman recounts the class that she and the teacher first got close. It was a stormy... (full context)
Chapter 15 
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
One morning, the womanrealizes that her typewriter is broken. She can’t get the keys to move no matter what... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman and the teacher climb the stairs to the top of the steeple. The woman remembers... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Although the woman taps the teacher on the shoulder, indicating he should start the repairs, he just takes... (full context)
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Unable to communicate, the woman wants to say, “fix one, quickly!” but she can only move and grip the teacher’s... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The typist tells the woman that she no longer has any use for using words—she will now be all his.... (full context)
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The narrator realizes that the protagonist of her novel (the woman) is also now “trapped in a tight place.” This wasn’t her original plan—she’d initially thought... (full context)
Chapter 18 
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman wonders how long she’s been stuck in the room with the clock. In the beginning,... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman sometimes climbs on top of a sink in the room to open the window and... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Authoritarianism and Surveillance Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
...sofa bed. When he brought it up the stairs, it was the first time the woman had ever seen his appearance out of his control. His clothes, hair, and voice are... (full context)
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The ringing belltower still frightens the woman, and she “cowers” on the other side of the room when she knows the clock... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Authoritarianism and Surveillance Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The typing teacher brings the woman her meals. He never eats with her, but he watches her eat. She is afraid... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
The woman continues to deteriorate locked in the room, though not being able to speak irks her... (full context)
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
One day, the woman hears voices from the open window and sees the teacher on the ground laughing and... (full context)
Chapter 27 
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Fate vs. Free Will Theme Icon
The woman is surprised that she doesn’t hate the typing teacher as much as she should. Even... (full context)
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... (full context)
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... (full context)
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Loss, Isolation, and Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling, Longevity, and Defiance Theme Icon
Eventually, the typing teacher no longer visits the woman. She loses track of time and of her body. She thinks that she might as... (full context)