Summary: Chapter 5: Henry Ford's English-Language Melting Pot

A quote by Calvin Coolidge opens the chapter. It says that whoever builds a factory builds a temple.

From New York, Lefty and Desdemona take a train to Detroit. Dr. Philobosian caught an illness on the boat and didn't pass inspection. Desdemona is furious because she was not allowed to bring her silkworm eggs into the country.

Sourmelina meets them at the train station. She has reinvented herself as a modern American woman, dressed like a flapper. Sourmelina’s parents had arranged a marriage for her in America after she was caught in a compromising position with another woman. With a secret of her own, she’s happy to keep Lefty and Desdemona’s.

Lefty and Desdemona move in with Sourmelina and her husband, Jimmy Zizmo, who doesn’t realize she’s a lesbian. He expects the sala, or living room, to be the men’s domain only and the kitchen the women’s. He promises to help Lefty find a job through his connection to the personnel department manager at Ford Motors. When they go to talk to the manager, Zizmo slyly offers to drop special documents off at the manager’s home. The manager agrees to give Lefty a job.

Lefty begins working on the factory assembly line. After work, he attends the factory’s English school, where he repeats sentences about cleanliness. One day, after hearing a lecture on productivity, Lefty tries to work faster but gets sabotaged by his fellow workers. They tell him not to work fast or else everyone else suffers.One day, Lefty tells Desdemona that he needs her to make him a traditional Greek outfit for the English School’s graduation pageant.

On a Wednesday, inspectors from the Ford Sociological Department come to check on Lefty’s living conditions to make sure he’s living in accordance with their idea of American values. They don’t like that Lefty doesn’t own his own house and eats food with too much garlic. They give him a new toothbrush and instruct him on how to use it. Zizmo is insulted, and the inspectors warn Lefty that they will make a note of his relatives.