Chapter 5 Summary

Leonard awakens the next morning with a terrible hangover, but still thinking of Maria. He spent more than an hour and a half at her table learning more about her. Although she had asked for a dance, Leonard was feeling somewhat queasy from the mixture of liquors he had ingested and asked to sit down first. He learned that Maria was a divorcee with an abusive ex-husband, whose marriage had alienated her from her family. At the end of the conversation, Maria writes down her address on a piece of cardboard, which Leonard now clutches as he sits on public transit on his way to work.

When he first arrives at work, he still feels somewhat drunk and uneasy, but he makes his way to the room of machines where he is to begin his work. Glass meets him there with a large knife and explains what is expected of him: he is to open the boxes, remove the machines, label them, and put them on the shelf. Glass makes it clear that Leonard should do ten at a time because the rubbish of boxes and packing material that will accumulate is considerable. After each ten, Leonard must take the boxes to the incinerator and burn them; he cannot leave until every piece is burned to ash because the boxes contain serial numbers that Glass does not want the Germans to get. During this explanation, Leonard tries repeatedly to thank Glass for the previous night’s outing, but Glass ignores him because another worker is present. When the worker leaves, Glass chastises Leonard for being so careless and lays out an elaborate scenario in which the worker might overhear something, relay it to a friend at a bar, and accidentally reveal to a German their covert operations. Chastened, but also somewhat exasperated by what he perceives as an excess of theatrics on Glass’s part, Leonard gets to work.

The process takes much longer than anticipated, but Glass insists that Leonard complete the job in a week. As a result, Leonard must work fifteen-hour days that do not leave him any time to visit or write to Maria. When the task is finally complete, the infatuated Leonard sits down to write a letter to his new love interest. Worried about the turnaround time for the post, he decides to deliver it personally. He decides to arrange a time and place for them to meet, but accidentally selects a bar with prostitutes in it. Nervous about changing the note and unsure what to do, Leonard goes to Maria’s house and drops the note through the mail slot. In an uncharacteristically bold move, Leonard decides to open the door. Whether he intended to retrieve the letter or not, he finds Maria standing there.