Study Guide

On the Beach Chapter 5

By Nevil Shute

Chapter 5

  • Mary is excited about Jennifer's new playpen. She's far less excited (and a little confused) when Peter presents her with the set from the chemist.
  • Peter tries to be logical with Mary: radiation sickness is incredibly painful, plus there's no guarantee that they'll all die on the same day. This is their best option.
  • This really bothers Mary, but she becomes downright horrified at the thought of ending Jennifer's life. Angry, she accuses Peter of treating Jennifer like a "nuisance" (5.53).
  • Naturally, this argument ends terribly. Peter stays up drinking, while Mary runs to bed with tears in her eyes.
  • Peter eventually passes out in bed but wakes in the middle of the night to the sound of Mary sobbing. She apologizes, saying nothing about the pills, before falling back asleep.
  • Meanwhile, Osborne is cruising in his Ferrari at top speeds. There are no other cars on the road, so he can book it, but he sometimes worries about hitting children who play in the street.
  • Later, there's another meeting with the admiral. Dwight, Peter, and John are all there, as well as Lieutenant Sunderstrom, an American electrical officer who studied radio communication in the Pacific Northwest.
  • Discussion turns to the radio messages. They've received nearly two hundred mostly "incomprehensible" messages since the war, only two of which ("WATERS" and "CONNECT") actually made sense (5.75).
  • Of course, this could just be pure chance—that's why Scorpion is going to check it out. Based on his research, Sunderstrom claims that this broadcast is most likely coming from a small island called Santa Maria.
  • After the meeting, Dwight meets Moira for lunch. To his surprise, she orders a single brandy, rather than her usual multiple double brandies.
  • Moira has a suitcase with her, which piques Dwight's interest. She reveals that she's gone back to school and is working harder than The Rock. We're talking Dwayne, peeps.
  • After lunch, they check out the exhibit on religious art at the National Gallery. To Moira's surprise, the seemingly devout Dwight hates every religious painting he sees. Instead, he prefers classic "French art" that depicts picturesque scenes (5.165).
  • After setting another date for the following Tuesday, Dwight heads into town. First, he buys a fishing rod for "a boy ten years old" (5.176). He then goes to find a pogo stick, but is unable to find one in any store.
  • Finally, Dwight enters a jewelry store and buys a fancy bracelet with emeralds and diamonds. He also asks if they have a pogo stick, which cracks us up.
  • Moira hears about Dwight's shopping habits through the grapevine the following day. She's so moved that she goes shopping for a pogo stick as well, though she too comes up empty-handed.
  • (By the way, if you haven't figured it out, Dwight is buying gifts for his family.)
  • The following Tuesday, Moira and Dwight meet for dinner and a movie. Though it goes pretty well, Dwight is particularly "absent-minded" this night (5.233).
  • To Dwight's shock, Moira correctly guesses that he's worried about the pogo stick. She promises that she'll find him one before he returns, which really warms his heart.
  • As they're saying their goodbyes, Dwight kisses Moira. Holy smokes, we've been waiting for that for, like, ever! He then tells her that the kiss was from both him and Sharon, which is simultaneously really sweet and really weird.