Study Guide

The Lathe of Heaven Chapter 5

By Ursula K. LeGuin

Chapter 5

  • Dr. Haber strides into the Oregon Oneirological Institute. It's fancy, elegant, and high class… and perhaps most important, it's not the office that he used to have.
  • Suddenly Dr. Haber is a big shot. He even has a huge office and a giant window view of Portland. We wonder how that happened.
  • Dr. Haber has an appointment with George, but before that, he meets with Heather Lelache. He explains how his machine works while he records it, going on for paragraphs about tiny scientific details.
  • According to Dr. Haber, what he's doing is teaching George how to dream without being afraid.
  • Right.
  • After George comes in, Dr. Haber hypnotizes him. Instead of directly telling him what to dream (you know, since Heather is watching), he gives a kind of vague and general topic. This time it's overpopulation.
  • Dr. Haber and Heather watch as George falls asleep, keeping track of all the recordings on Haber's instruments.
  • But then something much more interesting happens outside the window: the buildings start to disappear. Portland changes from a city of millions into a city of a few hundred thousand.
  • Understandably, Heather is a tiny bit freaked out.
  • When Dr. Haber realizes that Heather has witnessed the transformation of the city, he starts to freak out. For a moment, it really seems like he's going to kill her. But when Heather doesn't seem to remember anything, the doctor calms down.
  • But there's another problem. When George wakes up, he says that he dreamed about the Plague, which of course was not happening anywhere before he started dreaming.
  • Dr. Haber shoos George out and tries to convince Heather that poor George is just crazy. When she leaves, it seems like his plan has worked.
  • So Dr. Haber sits down to congratulate himself with a bottle of bourbon, toasting to the deaths of tons of people. Looks like we have our novel's villain.