Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez Brief Overview

This Resource is for Year 12 students studying Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Chronicle of a Death Foretold’ in the VCE Victorian Curriculum for 2024 Unit 3 AOS1 Reading and Responding to Texts.


Gabriel García Márquez

Year Published





Surrealistic Fiction – magic realist style – as the overwhelming number of accidents, misunderstandings, misinterpretations, contradictions, and confused memories seem to completely undermine reason and human understanding regarding how events unfold in the real world.

Perspective and Narrator

Chronicle of a Death Foretold is told from the perspective of an unnamed narrator, allegedly the author, who pieces together a journalistic narrative of a past event. The story as related by the characters is told in the third person by the narrator, who also uses the first person to describe his own involvement in the story.


Chronicle of a Death Foretold is told in the past tense.

About the Title

The title Chronicle of a Death Foretold states that the novella is a chronicle, which narrates events in chronological order. However, the author uses the label chronicle with verbal irony (when what is meant is different from what is said), because the events in the story are not revealed in chronological order. Further, the title reveals that the story’s deathis foretold or known in advance—and this death occurs at the very beginning of the novella. So, this too, undermines the real-life, journalistic pretence of the author. In short, the title contrasts with the nonlinear and somewhat mysterious and inexplicable nature of the events in the narrative.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Character Analysis


The narrator lived in the town as a boy, and his mother, sisters, and brother still reside there. He returns to the town decades after Santiago’s murder to find out exactly what happened. He is now working as a journalist, and he uses his skills as an interviewer and investigator to try to tease out the facts about what happened at that fateful time and why.

Santiago Nasar

Santiago is an open-hearted, good-natured, and innately innocent young man. Angela Vicario names him—falsely—as the man who violated her prior to her marriage. The macho code of honour makes him the target of the vengeful Vicario brothers, who seek him out to murder him. For inexplicable reasons Santiago does not learn of the murderous twins’ plan until it is too late, and they hack him to pieces at his front door.

Angela Vicario

Angela is a young, pretty girl of marriageable age whose family keeps a close eye on her to protect her honour. However, inside she is a free spirit who chafes at her family’s overprotection. After she lies about Santiago and the tragedy plays itself out, she lives on her own, guided only by her free will and her love for Bayardo. Angela never divulges with whom she had sex with before her marriage.

Pablo Vicario

Pablo Vicario is the twin brother of Pedro and older brother to Angela. He is a hog-butcher and a hot-headed macho Latino male who is hell-bent on finding Santiago and avenging the honour of his sister, Angela, who supposedly was violated by Santiago before her marriage. It is Pablo who forces his twin, Pedro, to pursue the murder of Santiago even after Pedro feels events have satisfied his lust for revenge.

Pedro Vicario

Pedro Vicario is Pablo’s twin brother and works with him as a hog butcher. Pedro eventually becomes less intent than his brother on finding and murdering Santiago. However, he lets Pablo force him to help with the killing. He is far more affected by the murder and afterward goes off to join the military, where he disappears and is never heard from again.

Plácida Linero

Plácida is an upper-class woman who lives with her son Santiago and servants in a large house on the town plaza. Despite the intention of several townspeople to warn her of the threat to her son, she never learns of the murder plot before it is carried out. It is by chance that Plácida aids in the murder when she bolts the front door as Santiago rushes toward it to escape the Vicario brothers.

Bayardo San Román

Bayardo comes from a rich and high-status military family. He is supremely self-confident and lavish in planning his wedding celebration and in buying Angela the house of her dreams. His confidence is crushed by the scandal surrounding Angela and the termination of their marriage. He nearly dies from his alcoholism. Decades later he is still bitter and closemouthed about the terrible events that occurred during and after his wedding to Angela.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold Plot Summary

Epigraph from Portuguese Playwright Gil Vincente about Falconry & Finding Love

The book opens with an epigraph about falconry: “The pursuit of love is like falconry.” Here, finding love is represented as a form of predation in which the raptor, or the seeker of love, snares a love object almost at random and then kills it. Finding love is likened to a blood sport in which the beloved is a victim of inevitable violence. The quote sets the stage for the fury and violence that love engenders in the novella. It is also likely a critique of the cultural norm of vengeance killing, a custom that must be taught to the men who carry it out, perhaps in the same way captive falcons are trained to hunt on the wing.

People who own falcons train the birds to hunt and then enjoy a rather grisly spectacle. When the falcon is released, its owner watches as it soars upward searching for a bird it can snare in its talons. (This horrific scene mimics the death of Santiago.) The relevance to the novella is clear: Angela seems to pick Santiago’s name out of thin air, the same way a falcon catches a bird in flight. It is his random, strange, and meaningless fate to be murdered just as it is the fate of the falcon’s prey to be the one bird the predator grabs. There are references to falconry, and its lethal arbitrariness, in several places in the novella.

Chapter 1

Santiago Nasar has been murdered. He had gotten up early to go and see the bishop who was arriving on a boat that morning. The day before there had been a large and lavish public wedding celebration in honour of the marriage of Angela Vicario to Bayardo San Roman. Unbeknownst to Santiago, Bayardo had dragged his wife back to her parents’ home the night before because he discovered she was not a virgin. When her twin brothers demanded to know who had deflowered her, Angela said it was Santiago. Her brothers Pedro Vicario and Pablo Vicario swear to murder Santiago as revenge for dishonouring their sister.

The narrator, who grew up in this town, has returned 27 years later as a professional investigative journalist to uncover the truth about why and how Santiago was murdered. Unfortunately, most townspeople have confused memories of what happened. Still, the narrator is determined to unearth the reason that although most of the people in the town knew of the Vicario brothers’ plot to murder Santiago, no one warned him or did anything to stop the killing.

Chapter 2

Bayardo is handsome and rich. He arrived in town in August to look for a bride. The moment he sees Angela Vicario walking with her mother, he falls in love with her. The couple gets married in February. Bayardo’s wedding feast is the most lavish and expensive the town has ever seen.

Angela does not want to marry Bayardo because she does not love him, but because she had a strict upbringing, she must do what her parents tell her to do—and they want her to marry Bayardo. When Bayardo brings her home after discovering her dishonour, Angela’s mother beats her. When the townspeople find out about her dishonour, they are amazed. Angela has always been closely controlled by her mother. How had she found a way to have sex with a man before her wedding?

The narrator, his brother, his friend, and Santiago spend the entire night of the celebration together. Santiago is delightful and carefree. The narrator is certain it could not have been Santiago who had sex with Angela. She must have lied when she named him.

Chapter 3

The Vicario brothers, who are twins, must avenge the lost honour of their sister. They go to the pig butchery where they work and get two long slaughtering knives. They go to the meat market to sharpen their knives, and they boast to all the butchers there that they are going to kill Santiago Nasar. Then they go hunting for him. They roam the town looking for Santiago, and along the way, they tell everyone they meet about the murder they are about to commit. No one in town takes them seriously, so no one bothers to warn Santiago, his mother, or anyone else who might prevent the crime. People think the twins are either too drunk to be taken seriously or that they are just bluffing.

While the Vicario twins hunt Santiago, he, the narrator, his brother, and his friend go up to the newlyweds’ house to serenade the couple. They are unaware that Bayardo is alone in the house, having already returned his bride to her family.

The Vicario twins finally wait for Santiago to return home. They sit in the milk shop, which is across the street from Santiago’s house, and plan to attack Santiago when he returns. They tell each person who comes into the milk shop of their murderous plan. Again, no one takes them seriously or does anything to prevent it. The owner of the shop tells a beggar woman to go to warn Santiago’s mother, but it is not known if she gets the message.

Chapter 4

The Vicario brothers have killed Santiago Nasar with their butcher knives, nearly hacking him to pieces. He dies in front of his home. The mayor orders the town priest to conduct an immediate autopsy, as the body reeks in the heat. The botched autopsy leaves Santiago’s body even more mutilated. The priest concludes that Santiago died of seven fatal stab wounds.

The Vicario brothers turn themselves in to the church. They show no remorse because they feel an honour killing is not a sin. The priest, like most other men in town, seems to agree. Because of an unwarranted fear of reprisal by the town’s Arab community, however, the Vicario brothers are moved to a jail some distance away. Angela Vicario, her mother, and the rest of her family also move out of town, fearful (needlessly) of Arab revenge.

Decades later when the journalist narrator comes to investigate the crime, he tries to interview Bayardo, who refuses to discuss the incident. The narrator locates Angela Vicario living on her own in a distant town, and she agrees to speak with him. She discusses many details of the event but will not say who had sex with her before her wedding day. She tells the narrator that, since the incident so many years earlier, she has fallen in love with Bayardo. She has written him frequent letters for many years, even though he never answers her.

Chapter 5

The people of the town are obsessed by the murder that took place so many years ago. They want to understand how and why it happened—why no one warned Santiago—but they can make no sense out of the senseless accidents and wrong choices that failed to save him.

A few weeks after the murder, a magistrate shows up in town to investigate. He, too, is bewildered by what happened. He cannot understand how everyone in town knew the murder was about to take place but no one warned Santiago or did anything to stop the crime.

The narrator goes on to describe the mischances, misunderstandings, miscommunications, unlucky choices, coincidences, and accidents that seem to have made a whole host of townspeople unable or unwilling to warn Santiago to save him. Perhaps they could not believe he would really be murdered, but it is his fate to be murdered. His fate is foretold when Angela names him and in the inaction of those who know about the killing but do nothing. Santiago meets his fate at his front door where the Vicario brothers butcher him.

honour & gender
machismo & marianismo
revengeexpectations on women and men & purity of women
dishonourfairnesssanctity & Christ
deceptionsupernaturalfate & chance
sacrificechoicememory & confusion
death & murdertruth & false truthcomplicity & guilt
authorityloyaltymoral compass
falconry & birdsthe bishopnatural world
the riverflowers real & artificialdreams
magic surrealismanimalsthe cult of death linked to Christ’s crucifixion
smellsthe weatherflying
Biblical references knives 

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum

Oedipus the King Play by Sophocles Brief Overview

This Resource is for Year 12 students studying Sophocles ‘Oedipus the King’ in the VCE Victorian Curriculum for 2024 Unit 3 AOS1 Reading and Responding to Texts.


Sophocles leading dramatist in Greek classical period 500-323 BC

Year Performed

430 BC at the festival of Dionysia

Type & Genre

Greek tragedy play – like an ancient murder mystery


Greek audience came to watch the play to learn about life through what happens to Oedipus and his fate


In the original Greek, Sophocles’ play was entitled ‘Oidipous Tyrannos’; once the play was translated to Latin, it became ‘Oedipus Rex’, and then in English, ‘Oedipus the King’. The original title aptly included the term ‘tyrannos’, meaning a king with no legitimate claim to the throne, a nod to Oedipus’ belief that he is not descended from Cadmus’ lineage.

Structure of a Greek Tragedy

Peripeteia = A tragedy must have some kind of reversal of fortune – the fall of the tragic hero – Oedipus experiences a peripeteia after the Messenger from Corinth sets off the chain of events that leads to his destruction.

Anagnorisis = The recognition scene when the tragic hero becomes aware of their reversal. Oedipus anagnorisis occurs when he realises that he is the lost son of Laius and Jocasta.

Hamartia = Known as the tragic flaw where heroes have a frailty or make some kind of error that leads to their downfall.

Catharsis = The goal is to create catharsis in the audience to evoke both horror and pity.

Brief Overview of ‘Oedipus the King’

‘Oedipus the King’ written by Sophocles for the Great Dionysia celebration, is a Greek tragedy that is read like a kind of ancient murder mystery. The play is regarded as a classic example of the ‘tragedy of fate’. The hero of the play is his own destroyer, he is the detective who tracks down and identifies the criminal, who turns out to be himself. It is the story of a great but flawed man, doomed to perform the most heinous crimes, despite doing everything he thinks he can to prevent the hideous web that fate has spun for him. The play tells the story of Oedipus, ruler of Thebes who discovers on a terrible day that he is the lost son of the previous king, his father Laius, and his wife Jocasta. This leads to a chain of tragic events that is unveiled as Oedipus unwittingly killed his father (parricide – murder of a parent by a child) and married his mother (incest – sexual relationship of son with mother). Written over 2000 years ago, suggests that fate is determined and the gods have active roles in people’s lives. These ideas were commonly accepted in Sophocles time but are not widely accepted now. Oedipus gradual realisation of his fate, and of the terrible crimes he has unknowingly committed, might be considered impossible or implausible to modern society. However, in the world of ancient Greece, it is possible to see Oedipus determined quest to uncover the truth for the sake of his city Thebes and his deep remorse for the errors of his past, as very recognisable and sympathetic qualities. The action of the play occurs many years after the horrible events, on the fateful day when the truth behind them comes to light.

Timeline of Events Oedipus the King

1-85The priest, talking with Oedipus, tells him Thebes is under a curse and the city needs his help again.
86-150Creon learns from Apollo that the curse on Thebes resulted from King Laius’ murder. The city must banish the murderer to lift the curse.
151-215The Chorus calls on various Olympians to aid Thebes.
216-275Oedipus asks the Thebans to help him find and expel Laius’ murderer. He avidly begins an all-out manhunt.
276-379The blind priest Tiresias has information about the plague, which he refuses to divulge. After much prodding from Oedipus, Tiresias claims that Oedipus is the source of the curse.
380-461Oedipus alleges that Creon and Tiresias are conspiring against him. Tiresias tells Oedipus to learn the truth about his parents and then forecasts Oedipus’ downfall.
462-531Creon, talking with the Chorus, denies the charges of collusion with Tiresias.
532-633Oedipus threatens to execute or deport Creon. Creon maintains his innocence and advises Oedipus to consult Apollo.
634-678Oedipus’ wife, Jocasta, and the Chorus defend Creon and convince Oedipus not to kill or banish him.
679-725Oedipus explains Tiresias’ prophecy to Jocasta; Jocasta counters that not all of Apollo’s vision come true and cites King Laius as an example.
726-770Jocasta recounts Laius’ murder. Oedipus has the first suspicions that he may have killed Laius.
771-863Oedipus tells about the group of travellers he murdered. Oedipus demands to see the lone survivor of the group to confirm if he indeed killed Laius.
864-910Chorus calls on the gods for help.
911-974A messenger tells Oedipus that the King of Corinth is dead and that Oedipus is to assume the throne. Oedipus refuses to return, for fear of fulfilling Apollo’s prophecy that Oedipus would sleep with his mother.
975-1076Messenger tells Oedipus that he is not, in fact, the son of Polybus (the dead King of Corinth): A herdsman rescued Oedipus, after he was exposed as an infant, and turned the baby Oedipus over to the messenger himself. Jocasta becomes convinced that Oedipus murdered Laius.
1077-1185Oedipus brings in the herdsman who rescued him as a child. Oedipus squeezes the information out of the herdsman and realizes that he is the son of Laius and Jocasta, killed his father (Laius) and slept with his mother (Jocasta).
1186-1297Long lament by the Chorus. A second messenger reports Jocasta’s suicide.
1298-1422Oedipus blinds himself. Oedipus claims he will suffer more by blinding himself than by suicide.
1423-1475Oedipus asks Creon to banish him from Thebes and administer rites to Jocasta.
1476-1515Oedipus laments for his daughters, Antigone and Ismene.
1516-1530Conclusion. Chorus indicates that Oedipus will continue to live after the tragedy’s ending.

Brief Character Analysis


At the beginning of the play, the eponymous character believes himself to be the son of Polybus and Merope, the King and Queen of Corinth. Oedipus had been granted the throne of Thebes because of his ingenuity in defeating the Sphinx, who had cursed Thebes and was terrorising its citizens. An additional part of Oedipus’ reward was marriage to Jocasta, the widowed wife of the former king, Laius. Unbeknownst to Oedipus, he has married his biological mother, having previously murdered Laius on a road far outside Thebes, not realising that Laius was the King of Thebes, nor that Laius was his biological father.

Most aspects of his character revolve around the question: to what extent is Oedipus guilty of the fate that befalls him? He has a wide range of personality traits both positive – bravery & cunning. But he also has negative traits – hubris (pride), foolish, naïve, hot tempered, authoritarian, paranoid, lacks insight into his faults, denies the truth. By the end of the play his traits have changed to be more humble even though blinded he sees the truth more clearly.


Oedipus’ wife (and unknowingly his mother) does not enter the play until the conflict between Oedipus and Creon is well underway. She is immediately presented to the audience as a confident woman and one whom the people respect. As Queen of Thebes she was married to King Laius and is the mother of Oedipus whom she had abandoned on Mount Cithaeron when he was three days old. She becomes the unwitting wife of her own son not long after the death of her husband and bears Oedipus 4 children – 2 sons Eteocles and Polyneices and 2 daughters Antigone and Ismene.

Aspects of her character revolve around the question: how could a mother abandon her own newborn child? She appears a jaded person haunted by fate and her past. The audience and the Chorus share sympathy with her horror of realising the terrible outcome of her past and the consequences of marrying her own son. At the end of the play Jocasta suicides because she cannot live with herself, but also because, as a woman, she cannot live within society.


Creon is Jocasta’s brother and at the start of the play Oedipus brother-in-law but also his uncle. Creon is respected by the people of Thebes and is initially regarded by Oedipus as a loyal and trusted friend. Despite their relationship souring, and Oedipus even viewing Creon as the antagonist at times, he is in fact the hero of this tale. He shares Oedipus’ desire to save Thebes from destruction and is equally determined to search for the truth behind the oracle.

Positive aspects of his character are held up by Sophocles as the man we should aspire to be: steadfast without stubbornness, confident without arrogance. He even bears the quality most commonly regarded as being essential for a good king: he does not want to be one. Where Oedipus is aggressive and headstrong, Creon is reasoned, temperate, cautious and content with his position of not being king with all the worries.


The character of Tiresias, whose name literally means ‘portent’, was included in many Ancient Greek myths and tragedies. He is revered by the Thebans, who refer to him as ‘Lord Tiresias’ and claim he ‘sees with the eyes of Lord Apollo’ [323]. Despite the esteem in which he is held by the Chorus, Tiresias’ role in Oedipus the King is a tragic one. He unwillingly comes to Thebes at Oedipus’ behest, and endeavours to conceal his knowledge, because he knows ‘the truth is only pain to him who sees’ [360]. He is threatened and taunted by Oedipus, who not only is ignorant of the knowledge Tiresias holds, but also unaware of the kindness Tiresias attempts to show Oedipus in bearing the burden of being the one in whom ‘the truth lives … [in] him alone’ [339].

The Priest

The Priest of Thebes plays an important role within his community, as well as in this play, as it is his treatment of Oedipus that sets the tone for Sophocles’ interpretation of the mythological character of Oedipus. While Oedipus presents himself as a god among men when he questions why the Chorus is ‘pray[ing] to the gods’ when he will ‘grant [their] prayers’ [245], the Priest identifies Oedipus as the ‘first of men’ [41], and he has already clearly stated that Oedipus ‘cannot equal the gods’ [39]. The Priest’s distinction between the gods and men (even the ‘first of men’) challenges Oedipus to step back from his hubris, however, Oedipus responds to the Priest’s words with excessive references to himself and all he feels and all he has done.

While the Priest’s role seems to be that of a grounding agent, persistently reminding Oedipus of his status, and that even in Oedipus’ greatest triumph ‘a god was with [him]’ [48], there are inconsistencies that feed into Oedipus’ sense of grandeur and blur the line between respect for a king and worship of a god.

The Chorus

As a standard in Greek drama the Chorus have a double identity – one within the plot and one outside of it. The Chorus in the plot identity is as a group of Theban citizens to fulfill duties of answering questions about characters and events and as an intermediary between characters. The outside the plot role is to comment on social, religious and historical meaning of the unfolding action of the play.

fate versus free will & prophecywisdomblindness figurative versus literal
choice & freedomcost of ignorance & value of knowledgemorality & the good life
truthpower & tyranny as rulerhubris (pride)
banishment & exileidentityfamily
truths & half truthsblindnesseyes & vision
hearing & listeningnauticallight & dark
swollen ankles & feetthe cross roadsthe oracle

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum

The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa Brief Overview

This Resource is for Year 12 students studying Yoko Ogawa’s ‘The Memory Police’ in the VCE Victorian Curriculum for 2024 Unit 3 AOS1 Reading and Responding to Texts.


Yoko Ogawa’s ‘The Memory Police’ is a dreamlike exploration of the role of memory in creating and sustaining cultural identities. Set on an unnamed, untethered island, the novel chronicles the work of the omnipresent Memory Police in slowly and deliberately destroying the memories, and eventually the very personhood, of the island’s residents.

It is a dystopian novel with an unnamed young novelist where mundane objects like ribbons, hats, perfume, books and memories are vanishing mysteriously. Then nature inexplicably disappears like roses, birds and more worryingly, people are taken away and body parts stop working. The ruthlessly efficient Memory Police (totalitarian agency) offer no explanation for their actions, and the islanders ask no questions. There is an inevitability to their work, as explained by the unnamed narrator’s flashbacks to her childhood, and the disappearances that have marked every major occasion in her life. The behaviour of the Memory Police is rendered sinister by the fact that readers are not given an insight into the why of their actions; it is all that residents and readers alike can do to infer the logic behind the erosion of life on the island. The apocalyptic atmosphere of the island, the frightened people, the misery of a fragmented community and disappearing traces of a free world are clearly portrayed in the story.

Despite the Memory Police giving the appearance of being able to exert total power, there still remain ways to counter them. The unnamed narrator works methodically with her major ally, known only as ‘the old man’, to provide the only resistance they can imagine – hiding the narrator’s editor, R, who is one of a small number of people who retain the capacity to access their memories, despite the disappearances. The narrator draws inspiration from like-minded souls operating in secret across the island, hiding individuals and, in some cases, whole families from the Memory Police. This hugely risky undertaking is not the only way that the narrator appears to challenge and resist the edicts of the Memory Police. She works with R to finish a novel, even after novels have been disappeared. The three close friends spend much of the text reflecting on the relationship between memory and the soul, but they spend little time explicitly discussing what appears to be one of Yoko Ogawa’s major concerns: the power of art to provide resistance in times of political conservatism.

Genre & Structure of the Text

First published in 1994 in Japan and translated by Stephen Snyder in 2019, the novel is a first-person narrative that addresses issues of loss of individualism under a totalitarian regime as the theme of this allegorical text. Critics have situated Ogawa’s work within a literary canon of speculative, science and dystopian fiction that concerns itself with efforts to rewrite and reshape history to support the efforts of authoritarian rulers. Her work can also be considered magic realism, as the characters are subject to phenomena that challenge a reader’s understanding of the laws of nature. The cumulative effect of these surreal events adds a mystical, fablelike feel to the text, while offering a warning for contemporary audiences about what their world may yet become.

Nestled within this largely chronological structure are a series of flashbacks that allow the reader to develop a sense of what life looked like for the narrator prior to the death of her parents. These flashbacks serve to underscore the significance of the narrator’s developing understanding of the form and function of the Memory Police. As an adult she is able to reimagine her memories of childhood, often under R’s guidance. These flashbacks thus serve a dual purpose: they offer insight into how the narrator came to be, whilst also foreshadowing the seemingly unstoppable march towards the erosion of everything that once made the island a functional society.

The text includes a novel-within-the-novel. In The Memory Police, the narrator’s preoccupation with her own work again serves to foreshadow her understanding of what is happening to the world around her, whilst also affording her an agency that she is denied in her day-to-day life. Her profession, and the reader’s access to her work, also acts as a reflection on the role of the arts and artists in both documenting and reflecting on the major historical and political events of their times.

Perspective of the Text

The Memory Police asks readers to consider the role of power, memory, and history in contemporary society. Ogawa’s world is the logical extension of the work undertaken by conservative governments worldwide, where history is written and rewritten to serve dominant narratives about war, government, and economics. Written at a time when Japanese society was still wrestling with the demons of World War Two, Ogawa’s work renewed conversations around Japan’s role in the war and its atrocities committed by the Japanese empire in its forced colonisation of the Asian mainland and other countries in the Pacific. A common refrain Japan has used as a nation is to sidestep responsibility for wartime acts and to forget in order to be disconnected from the past like Ogawa’s novel. The novel’s explicit discussion of the way that memory and storytelling can be weaponised to target minorities and empower ruling parties contributes to reader understanding of some of the philosophical questions that have arisen in response to many of the most complex moments in recent human history.

The Memory Police and Echoes of Nazi Germany

It is impossible to ignore the echoes of Nazi Germany and the treatment of Jewish people that Ogawa draws on, especially regarding the Memory Police themselves like the SS and the loaded imagery of the hidden enclave the narrator builds in her home to hide R which is similar to ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’. Ogawa took inspiration from the secret hidden annex in Amsterdam where German Jewish girl Anne Frank and her family hid for over 2 years from the Nazi’s during WWII.

In March 1944, Anne wrote in her diary, “The brightest spot of all is that at least I can write down my thoughts and feelings; otherwise, I would be absolutely stifled.” In August of that year, the inhabitants of the annex were captured by the SS. Anne died of typhus in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in February 1945, just two months before liberation. She was fifteen years old.

Many elements of Anne Frank’s life in hiding are incorporated into The Memory Police. “Anne’s heart and mind were so rich,” commented Ogawa in a conversation with Motoko Rich. “Her diary proved that people can grow even in such a confined situation. And writing could give people freedom… I wanted to digest Anne’s experience in my own way and then recompose it into my work.”

Chapter Summaries.

Chapter 1             The narrator remembers her mother, who kept her memories. She establishes a central tension of the text: the ever-widening gap between those who remember and those who forget.

Chapter 2             Birds disappear – a particularly painful and personal disappearance for the narrator, whose father was an ornithologist. The Memory Police arrive to search her house.

Chapter 3             The narrator explains her work as a novelist, and her artistic preoccupation with that which ‘had been disappeared’ (p. 15). The reader is introduced to the old man.

Chapter 4             En route to her publisher, the narrator encounters the Memory Police. She meets with R, her editor.

Chapter 5             The narrator works on a novel wherein the protagonist is a typist loses her voice. Professor Inui and his family flee their home after receiving a summons from the Memory Police – just as it had happened to her mother.

Chapter 6             The typist experiences a flashback to her own childhood. The narrator continues to work with R, and she worries for the safety of the Inui family. Roses disappear.

Chapter 7             The narrator visits the old man, and they discuss the impact of the continued disappearances on life on the island.

Chapter 8             The relationship between the typist and her teacher deepens. The narrator shows R around her home, and she discovers that he is able to retain all of his memories, despite the disappearances.

Chapter 9             Winter descends on the island, and the Memory Police strengthen their grip on the community. The narrator discloses R’s secret to the old man, and they begin a plan to hide R in the narrator’s home.

Chapter 10          R agrees to take up residence in the narrator’s house.

Chapter 11          R and the narrator become increasingly intimate. They discuss R’s experience with memory. The narrator works with a replacement editor, and the old man makes contact with R’s wife.

Chapter 12          In the narrator’s novel, the typist and her teacher grow closer as he gives her a private lesson. R seeks work of any kind to ward off feelings of uselessness and depression as his world becomes ever smaller. Two new disappearances sweep the island: ‘first, photographs, and then fruits of all sorts’ (p. 94).

Chapter 13          The old man is taken into custody. R tries to reassure the narrator, and they continue to discuss the nature of memory, and the ways that the outside world is changing without him.

Chapter 14          The old man is released from custody, revealing that he was suspected of being involved in a smuggling operation. R’s baby is born, and he continues to adapt to life in hiding.

Chapter 15          Tension increases in the narrator’s novel, as the teacher renders his student voiceless. The Memory Police now focus on eliminating calendars; the worst effect of this particular disappearance is the trapping of residents on the island in a perpetual winter.

Chapter 16          R and the narrator organise a celebration for the old man’s birthday. R gifts the old man an orugōru (pp. 145-146), a long disappeared traditional music box. The celebration is cut short by a visit from the Memory Police.

Chapter 17          The Memory Police search the narrator’s home. She fears that they are looking for R, but it becomes clear that their visit was motivated by a raid on her neighbours’ safe room. R comforts the narrator after the raid.

Chapter 18          The typist feels a growing disconnect between her soul and her body. The narrator’s life contracts further as she tries to limit actions that might result in drawing the attention of the Memory Police to her and to her home. She furtively listens to R bathe, aware of the uneasy intimacy between them.

Chapter 19          The narrator is asked for help by an old woman, who appears to be seeking refuge from the Memory Police. Novels are the next significant item to be disappeared, which sharpens R’s sense of urgency to help restore some of the narrator’s memories. The narrator adopts her neighbours’ abandoned dog, Don.

Chapter 20          After the disappearing of novels, in order to earn a living, the narrator takes a job as a typist. R continues to try to activate the narrator’s memories. This effort feels futile to the narrator and the old man. The narrator realises that she is in love with R. An earthquake strikes.

Chapter 21          The narrator and the old man narrowly escape the earthquake and the resultant tsunami. They find R safe, but the narrator’s home, including the safe room is badly damaged.

Chapter 22          The old man comes to live with the narrator. They discover that the narrator’s mother had found a way to use her art to retain disappeared items by hiding these inside her sculptures. R furthers his efforts to awaken the narrator’s soul.

Chapter 23          The narrator and the old man venture to her mother’s cabin in search of additional disappeared items. On their way home, they narrowly escape being searched by the Memory Police.

Chapter 24          The old man contemplates the changes in his life. His imminent death is foreshadowed as he begins to struggle physically with everyday tasks.

Chapter 25          The narrator recovers the old man’s body. After his funeral, she feels increasingly lonely and disconnected. A new disappearance signals a new phase for the island’s residents, as they find themselves without the use of their left legs.

Chapter 26          The narrator re-establishes contact with R’s wife. Another body part disappears – the right arm. The narrator becomes increasingly reconciled to her own inevitable disappearance; however, R maintains that he will be able to shield her from this fate.

Chapter 27          This chapter is an entire extract from the narrator’s novel. It has been written at great effort under R’s instruction. It chronicles the last minutes of the typist’s life as she is completely absorbed into her teacher’s room.

Chapter 28          The narrator details the disappearance of the island’s inhabitants. She encourages R to make his way back in the world, leaving her alone, disembodied and without a voice, in what was once his secret room.


Unnamed narrator           Ogawa’s narrator is the reader’s set of eyes on the island. She is unnamed, and the reader is not provided with much detail about her physical attributes. Despite this lack of conventional information, the reader’s most intimate relationship is with the narrator, who tells the story in the first person. The narrator is a novelist, compelled to tell the story of things that disappear, we see the world through her eyes, but we are intimately aware that she is slowly, but forcibly, losing her memory.

Narrator’s mother            The narrator’s mother was a sculptor who worked skilfully before her untimely death, to retain her memories. The text opens with the narrator reminiscing about her mother’s attempts to preserve memories in her daughter, and in her art. Her death, whilst in the custody of the Memory Police, acts as a warning sign for those closest to the narrator about the power of these law enforcers. The narrator’s mother acts a guiding force for the narrator, her drive to preserve that which was disappeared seemingly acting as a formative experience for the narrator.

Narrator’s father               The narrator’s father was an ornithologist. He, like the narrator, lost his memories as intended by the Memory Police. Ogawa’s references to his work provide a rhythm within the novel; every time that the narrator encounters physical reminders of her father and his life’s endeavours, she reconnects pieces of her life, and builds on the memories that she is able to awaken with R’s assistance.

The old man       The old man is a constant in the narrator’s life. The two are connected through the nurse who raised the narrator – he was the nurse’s husband. The old man provides a kind of practical support that seems to tether both the narrator and the narrative itself to something concrete. Every time that the narrator appears to be losing her sense of confidence and her will, he responds with a kind pragmatism.

R             R is one of the few people in the narrator’s life that she trusts. Their desires are inextricably connected, as they work painstakingly together on appraising and editing each word and line of her novels. By the very nature of their shared work, the relationship between the narrator and her editor is close, and yet it still seems surprising when R declares his secret to her, in her basement. He appears to be emboldened by the revelation about the narrator’s mother’s determination to remember and to record reality, and their relationship quickly deepens.

Professor Inui and family               Professor Inui and his family connect the narrator to her mother. Helping them as they escape is the narrator’s first effort to actively resist the Memory Police.

Don        The narrator’s anxiety levels rise when her neighbours are taken away by the Memory Police. Unexpectedly but also unsurprisingly, the narrator takes their dog, Don, into her home. The dog, too, acts as a steadying presence in the narrator’s life, giving her another tether to the visceral, mortal realm. Don also acts to triangulate the reader’s experience of Ogawa’s world, revealing how the wishes of the Memory Police organise life for all living beings on the island.

The Memory Police          The Memory Police are rendered as a brutal, cruel, and professional unit. They operate as a group, giving civilians on the island little opportunity to negotiate their treatment. They generate fear, working from both their reputation and their highly visible actions. They act as enforcers, but readers do not know for whom – the Memory Police are the only face of authority that we see. This works to enhance the reader’s understanding of their menacing quality, but also raises questions about the rationale behind this seemingly totalitarian power.

The typist in the novel-within-a-novel     The narrator’s construction of the typist character provides important insight into her own daily concerns. The typist is rendered mute early in the novel, but ‘was continually struggling to speak’ (p. 55). She initially does not want to accept her fate, but feels ‘increasingly oppressed, as though [she] were being backed into the corner by a powerful force’ (p. 91).

The teacher in the novel-within-a-novel                 The typist’s teacher is a domineering figure, who manipulates and entraps his students. He acts as an enforcer, but positions himself as a protector.

Neighbours         There is a small cast of neighbours and townspeople operating in the background of the narrator’s life. These minor characters act to reinforce the degree of risk that the narrator and the old man are undertaking. They are subject to forces that the narrator will have to encounter.

memoryconnectioncraft of writing
artalienationtotalitarian police state
surveillancestorytellingcreation vs destruction
tyrannyfate vs free willlongevity
forgetting & disconnection
from the past & history
powercultural identities
disappearancesnarrator’s noveltypist in the novel
Memory Policebook burningthe protagonist narrator
roses & rose gardenthe weather 

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum



See the source image 

However, for Mainstream English Year 12 Students studying in 2024 on the Victorian English Curriculum I am covering Some of the texts from the VCE 2024 English List 1 Not All of the texts. 


Please note I do not teach Year 11 English, EAL English or English Language.

Blue and Gold Cover Book on Brown Wooden Shelf


I will Post New Year 12 Resources during the year to help students studying these texts. 


Keep up to date with new notes just published on my website  by checking “Resources for Year 12”.


These are the Mainstream English Year 12 Texts I am Covering for 2024:-


Go, Went, Gone by Erpenbeck

Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Marquez

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Jackson

The Memory Police by Ogawa


Runaway by Munro

Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Hadley


Much Ado About Nothing by Shakespeare

Oedipus the King by Sophocles


False Claims of Colonial Thieves by Kinsella & Papertalk Green

Poems Selected by Seamus Heaney of Wordsworth


Sunset Boulevard Directed by Wilder


Writing about Personal Journeys

Writing about Play

Writing about Country

Writing about Protest


Online Tutoring of English Using Zoom

Bad Dreams and Other Stories by Tessa Hadley: The Basics

This Resource is for Year 12 students studying Tessa Hadley’s ‘Bad Dreams and Other Stories’ in the VCE Victorian Curriculum for 2024 Unit 3 AOS1 Reading and Responding to Texts.


Tessa Hadley is a British writer of 6 novels and 2 short story collections.  Her 10 narratives in ‘Bad Dreams and Other Stories’ are realist in style and set in England between the early 20th century and the present day.  They typically examine the experiences of women, often in terms of the psychological ramifications of family relationships, sexual encounters, or seemingly innocuous events.  The stories turn things upside down into new thresholds that are crossed, pushing character’s feelings of safety into another new perspective on the problem.


Many stories deal with transformation and the need for her characters to process new experiences with sometimes seismic shifts of understanding and memory that can occur in a lifetime.  The reader asks if the retelling of the event or relationship helps to clarify how one feels, or does it layer one’s experiences with a new perspective, recasting the memory, changing the plots points?


The stories speak deeply to the experience of change and loss and misery dealt to women who care for themselves, for other people, or for abstract principles like love or justice.  While some situations might be considered ‘everyday’ these experiences are shown to be significantly formative, shaping identities or facilitating transitions from innocence to experience. While gaining experience can be revelatory, it can also be fraught with danger and in some stories the characters are punished for their desire to have that particular experience.

What is important is the uncovering of secrets in the revelatory experiences. When secrets are revealed their impact can be shocking as well as enlightening.

Bad Dreams Story Collection
An Abduction p.1-29
3rd person omniscient
Jane Allsop protagonist  
The Stain p.31-55
3rd person omniscient
Marina protagonist  
Deeds Not Words p.57-65
3rd person limited
Edith Carew protagonist  
One Saturday Morning p.67-86
3rd person limited
Carrie protagonist  
Experience p.87-111
1st person
Laura protagonist
Bad Dreams p.113-126
Shifting 3rd person limited
Unnamed young girl protagonist  
Flight p.127-152
3rd person limited
Claire protagonist
Under the Sign of the Moon p.153-182
3rd person limited Greta protagonist  
Her Share of Sorrow p.183-194
3rd person omniscient
Ruby protagonist
Silk Brocade p.195-215 Shifting 3rd person limited
Ann Gallagher protagonist  
Themes from Stories
Transformation of a personTransformation of clothes or specific items  Memory & remembrance
DreamsChange  Social status & social change
Relationships between families & couplesGrowth & development of children & naivety  Empathy, sympathy & tenderness
Death, loss & misery & disability  Tragedy & atonementLove, forbidden love & sexual encounters
Identities & crisis of identity  Wry humourEpiphany & perception
Delusions & disappointment  Self-improvementRe-telling of an event
Hope & hopelessness of lifeHappiness in the moment or event  Secrets and their revelations

All Resources created by Online Tutoring using Zoom for Mainstream English Students in the Victorian Curriculum