Study Guide

The Golem and the Jinni Chapter 5

By Helene Wecker

Chapter 5

  • Arbeely contacts Maryam Faddoul and lets her know that her flask is repaired.
  • She treks over, smelling like roasted coffee, and Arbeely introduces her to his new apprentice, the Jinni.
  • They cook up a story about how he just came over from Egypt, but fell ill—that's why he hasn't been around to meet everyone in the neighborhood yet.
  • So the neighborhood comes to him. Maryam spreads the news, and people flock to Arbeely's shop to meet the newcomer.
  • The Jinni keeps his story vague, "Be a bit hazy […] talk about the desert" (5.43), but they realize they're missing a crucial detail: a name.
  • The Jinni chooses Ahmad: "He found it the least objectionable. In the repeated a's he heard the sound of wind, the distant echo of his former life" (5.48).
  • (Guys, it's a good thing they picked Ahmad because Arbeely introduces him to Maryam as Ahmad back in paragraph 5.11—so phew.)
  • One man in the neighborhood doesn't give two scoops about the Jinni, and that's Mahmoud Saleh, the ice cream maker.
  • He was once a doctor, but he was possessed by an ifrit, and now he can't see faces; he only sees "gaping holes where [their] eyes should have been" (5.75). Eek.
  • When he makes ice cream for his dying wife, and it's really good, he finds his new calling.
  • Unfortunately, word spreads through Cairo that he's sick, so Saleh travels to America, where we first meet him.
  • Meanwhile, it's time for our regular check-in to the Syrian Desert.
  • The rain has ended and a Bedouin girl named Fadwa sees the Jinni's crystal palace while on a walk.
  • She tells her father, Abu Yusuf, but he doesn't believe her. He tells her to milk the goats, and sew her dress (Breaking Amish meets Project Runway), so they can find her a husband.
  • Later, on a caravan of his own, Abu Yusuf actually sees the glass palace, and a man inside it, but he lies to his daughter and says he didn't see it.