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On the Beach

Nevil Shute

Chapter Five

Chapter Four

Chapter Five, page 2

page 1 of 2

Peter comes home from Melbourne with a playpen, the dummy cyanide pills, and the syringe. He tries to talk to Mary about radiation sickness, but she does all she can to avoid the conversation. However, Peter fears that the radiation sickness might set in while he is still away at sea, so he persists on telling her. He explains that radiation will make her sick and lead to a messy death, and he then shows her the dummy pills. Mary says she could never take a cyanide pill because then no one would be left to take care of Jennifer. Mary is shocked when Peter tells her that Jennifer too will get sick.

When Peter explains that Mary might have to euthanize Jennifer to prevent her from suffering, Mary becomes hysterical and furious, accusing Peter of trying to trick her into murdering her daughter. Peter responds angrily, calling Mary a fool and insisting that Jennifer would die in pain if Mary refused to resort to the syringe. He thinks, "these bloody women…living in a sentimental dream world. If they'd face up to thinks they could help a man enormously." Later, a tearful Mary apologizes to Peter for not facing reality.

While the crew is waiting for the start of the next expedition, John spends time driving his Ferrari at a local racetrack. The excitement of driving has distracted him from his nervousness about the impending long submarine voyage.

Dwight, Peter and some other crewmembers meet with Navy officials about the expedition. Their course has been altered due to minefields that have been left over from the war around certain cities and harbors. They are to proceed directly to Seattle, then to Alaska, and then back to Australia. The officers then talk about the radio signals from Seattle. In 106 separate transmissions that were picked up, only two decipherable words were heard: "WATER" and "CONNECT." During the cruise, the crew must identify and investigate the source of these signals. Lieutenant Sunderstrom, the submarine's radio and electrical officer, suggests that the signals are probably coming from Santa Maria, a military radio station on an island in Puget Sound. Sunderstrom offers to go onshore in a protective suit to investigate.

After the conference, Dwight meets Moira for lunch; this time, she orders only a single brandy. She surprises him by saying she is taking secretarial courses. She says that people stopped taking classes right after the war, but that the secretarial school and university are now seeing a large increase in enrollment.

After lunch, Dwight and Moira go to an exhibit of religious paintings. He finds the paintings to be phony. After they part for the day, Dwight goes into a sporting-goods store to buy a fishing rod for his son, Junior. Dwight then tries to buy a pogo stick for his daughter, Helen, but the store does not have any left. He searches throughout the toy district for a pogo stick, but cannot find one, which makes him want it even more. Dwight ends up in the jewelry district, where he buys a very expensive bracelet for his wife. A gossipy neighbor tells Moira about Dwight's shopping spree.

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