The Man in the High Castle

The Man in the High Castle Summary and Analysis of Chapters 4, 5, & 6


Chapter 4

Frank confronts his former boss, the rather shady Wyndam-Matson. Wyndam-Matson refuses to hire Frank back, insisting he hired someone else. Frank coldly collects his tools, and his co-worker Ed McCarthy approaches him. McCarthy says he’s proud of Frank for saying what he did to Wyndam-Matson yesterday, and suggests that with his welding skills, Frank could become an independent jewelry-maker.

Frank’s welding skills were honed at W-M Corporation, which makes wrought-iron objects as well as pre-war American artifact forgeries, sold at places like Childan’s shop. The massive demand from the Japanese has created a huge market for such items, and no one questions them very closely.

Pondering McCarthy’s suggestion, Frank consults the copy of the I Ching in the lounge of the business office at W-M Corporation. The oracle gives him a favorable result when he asks it if he should establish his own jewelry business, but also suggests a terrible fate lying ahead. Frank is puzzled at this contradictory message. He realizes that the positive message relates specifically to his jewelry business, while the deeper malevolent fate refers to some other historical event. A Third World War? An event that Frank himself will set into motion? He can’t be sure, but he decides that the best course of action is to open his jewelry business and get on with his own small life.

He mentions his decision to McCarthy, who explains that he has a plan to get the money from Wyndam-Matson. He invites Frank over for dinner that night. Frank, a bit dazed, meditates on his new plan. He hopes that his success will win him back the love of Juliana.

Childan closes up American Artistic Handicrafts, still stewing from his long meeting with Tagomi. A well-dressed white man enters the shop, and shows a card demonstrating that he serves Admiral Harusha, who captains the carrier Syokaku. The Admiral has heard of Childan’s store, and has sent his servant there to obtain a sidearm from the American Civil War for each officer of his ship – twelve guns in all. Childan shivers, knowing this would bring him almost ten thousand dollars.

The man begins to write out a check for fifteen thousand dollars, and Childan goes to a locked safe to get one of the guns. When he presents it to the man, the man tells him that this is a forgery, and he cannot make a deal with someone who cannot even tell real from fake. The man puts the check away, and leaves the store.

Childan is horrified. Not only has he lost a huge sale, but he may also have lost his reputation as a respected dealer in antiques. Hysterically, he sends the gun to a University of California laboratory to have it inspected by professionals; they explain to him that the gun is indeed a fake, though a very high quality one. Childan shouts at them in rage.

Next, he calls Ray Calvin, and angrily sets up a meeting with him to inquire about the counterfeit pistols.

While waiting for the meeting, he calls up the San Francisco office of the Tokyo Herald, and inquires as to whether the carrier Syokaku is in the San Francisco bay harbor. A giggling secretary replies that the Syokaku is at the bottom of the Philippine Sea, sunk by an American submarine in 1945.

Childan wonders about the identity of the mysterious stranger who visited him and revealed that his guns were fakes. Whatever his identity, Childan will confront Ray Calvin and make sure that the ill effects of the counterfeits are felt all the way up the line.

Chapter 5

Wyndam-Matson is entertaining a young woman when he receives an angry call from Ray Calvin, who angrily demands a refund for the faulty guns that Wyndam-Matson sold him. Wyndam-Matson replies that Calvin knew these guns were forgeries, but Calvin says he demanded quality forgeries and insists on a refund. Calvin also tells Wyndam-Matson about Childan’s rage at the mysterious stranger who visited his store that afternoon. Wyndam-Matson assumes that it is the disgruntled Frank Frink who revealed the forgeries to Childan. He assures Calvin that he will sort out the situation.

Wyndam-Matson explains the situation to his young female companion, Rita. Though she advises he go to the police, Wyndam-Matson decides to bribe Frink and McCarthy with two thousand dollars to keep quiet. In the meantime, he’ll get the police to look into the backgrounds of the two men.

Determined to prove to Rita that historicity of objects means nothing, Wyndam-Matson shows her two lighters – one that was in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s pocket when he was assassinated, and one that wasn’t. There is no way to tell the two apart, except for a certificate that could also potentially be forged.

Rita is saddened by the mention of FDR’s death, and demands to be taken home. She spies a copy of a book called The Grasshopper Lies Heavy, and begins discussing it with Wyndam-Matson. The book describes the how the world could have been if the Axis had lost the war; if FDR hadn’t been assassinated, he would have pulled America out of the Depression and prepared it for World War II. Rexford Tugwell would have been elected president after, and would have continued Roosevelt’s anti-Nazi policies and prevented the destruction of the American fleet at Pearl Harbor. Germany would have hesitated to go to Japan’s aid, and the Allies would have won.

Wyndam-Matson scoffs at the notion, insisting that the Japanese would never have lost because their fleet is simply stronger. He guffaws at Rita’s insistence that the British troops in North Africa would have eventually triumphed over Rommel and moved on to support the Russians at Stalingrad. The way history turned out is the only way it ever could have, Wyndam-Matson insists.

Tagomi and Baynes meet in Tagomi’s home, chatting about the I Ching and the buffalo of the American Midwest (one of Tagomi’s most prized possessions is the buffalo head hanging in his house). Baynes explains that an elderly Japanese man will join them in a few days for their business negotiations; Baynes asks that Tagomi not report this to anyone, for the purpose of taxes since the man is retired and lives on a fixed income. Tagomi wonders if there is something more to the situation, but Baynes does not elaborate, except to say that the man’s name is Shinjiro Watanabe and he loves talking about rhododendrons.

Tagomi idly comments on the German policy of exterminating the elderly, and asks Baynes’ opinion on the matter. Baynes is nonplussed by the conversation, and wonders if Tagomi somehow learned about his remarks to Lotze on the flight. Baynes pleads a headache and leaves. Tagomi has arranged a young student studying Swedish to give him a ride back to his hotel; Baynes is frustrated that he will have to try to understand Swedish, a language he barely knows, with this student.

Chapter 6

Juliana Frink meanders through the town, grocery shopping on a sunny day. She looks at magazines depicting the Germans' interplanetary colonization and their new invention - the television. She decides she'd rather have TV than live on Mars. She wonders who will be the next Fuhrer when Bormann dies. The only candidate she likes is Baldur Von Schirach, but she doubts he will get it.

Juliana returns home. Joe Cinnadella is still sleeping in her bed; he's missed his truck, but insists he'll get it on the way back. She watches him as he dresses, and notices he has a tattoo of the letter C. He explains that it stands for Cairo, where he served during the war. He fought on the Axis side, for the Italians, and Juliana notices a military award among his few possessions.

Joe describes the brutality of desert fighting and the deaths of his two brothers in North Africa, along with his enduring hatred of the British. He shows Juliana the copy of a book he has - The Grasshopper Lies Heavy. In the novel, the British control all of Europe after Italy betrays the Axis powers by going over the Allies. For Joe, this perpetuates the stereotype that Italians are happy-go-lucky wine drinkers, despite the fact that Italy has established its own small empire in North Africa.

The two sit down to breakfast, and Juliana ponders this strange, moody man who has entered her life. Suddenly, the news of Chancellor Bormann's death is announced on the radio. This shocking development means that the supreme leader of the Reich is dead, which opens up a power vacuum that could change the balance between nations.

Joe and Juliana frantically discuss which candidates are most likely to ascend to the ultimate position of chancellor. Juliana is disgusted with the Nazis, and thinks of them as violent psychopaths. Joe has a more favorable view: he has been living under the Nazis for nearly fifteen years, and finds them appreciative of manual labor. He was part of the work crews that rebuilt New York and Baltimore. In Joe's opinion, the Nazis were able to curb the wealthy corporations and give dignity to the common people.

Joe mentions that the author of The Grasshopper Lies Heavy - whose name is Abendsen - lives somewhere in Cheyenne in a heavily fortified building he calls the High Castle. Juliana notes that the world in the book is much better than theirs; Joe disagrees, and the two argue fiercely about the Nazi extermination of the Jews.

Joe comments that Juliana is scared of men, but reassures her that he would never hurt her.

Tagomi ponders the situation in the office. The student driver confirmed that Baynes did not understand Swedish, which confirms Tagomi's suspicions about the man: he is indeed concealing important parts of his identity. Either way, Tagomi likes Baynes, and soon the meeting with the elderly Japanese man will take place.

News of Bormann's death arrives at the office, and Tagomi is summoned to a meeting at the Foreign Office along with other highly placed Japanese. The meeting discusses which candidate is most likely to become the next leader of the German Reich.

Herman Goring, also called the Fat One, is notorious for his orgies and luxury, but also founded the Gestapo and is highly placed in the party. J. Goebbels, intellectual and organized, is another contender. R. Heydrich is utterly without sympathy and feared by many in the party, but his ruthless methods might persuade his superiors to elect him - he has murdered people in the past who have opposed him. Baldur von Schirach is the former head of Hitler Youth, and has attempted to stop Nazi exterminations and medical experiments. Doctor Seyss-Inquart was responsible for the genocide of the African continent and the attempt to sterilize the remaining Russian population; he is said to be most like Hitler.

Tagomi feels ill, and rushes from the room. After hearing about all of these psychopaths who could ascend to the world's most powerful office, he realizes that evil is real. He takes a cab back to his office. In an attempt to save face, Tagomi phones a colleague and explains he became ill. The man summarizes the rest of the meeting for him: in the opinion of the Japanese authorities, the German policies of extermination were an economic failure, causing a frantic cycle that will bring the most reckless candidates to the top of the pile. The man urges Tagomi to have faith in the Japanese Emperor and his cabinet.

Tagomi begins to dictate a letter of sympathy to the German consul, but his thoughts come derailed and he composes a letter that is both sympathetic and insulting, mocking Nazi colonization. He gives up and tells his secretary to send it or revise at her leisure.

Tagomi receives a call from Baynes, frantically asking if the elderly gentleman from Japan has arrived. The meeting cannot get started without Yatabe, much to Tagomi's frustration. Baynes hangs up suddenly, and Tagomi is left to wonder what has happened.

After consultation with the I Ching, Frank is certain that Wyndam-Matson will not cough up the money. He is pleasantly surprised when a messenger arrives with a check for two thousand dollars. Frank and Ed McCarthy set up the workshop for their jewelry business, which they have decided to call Edfrank Jewelers.


Chapter 5 introduces a symbol than encapsulates a major theme in the novel - the instability of history. Eager to show Rita that historicity means nothing, Wyndam-Matson shows her Zippo two lighters, one of which was in the pocket of FDR when he was assassinated and one of which was not. Wyndham-Matson asserts that historicity is in the eye of the beholder, and not a quality possessed by any particular object. This symbol introduces the problem of authenticity: how do we tell what is real?

The Allied victory as described in The Grasshopper Lies Heavy is not exactly the way that history actually turned out; a longer discussion of actual timeline can be found in the World War II section of this ClassicNote.

A very intense metaphor is used to describe Tagomi's horrified reaction to the long speech about the evil Nazi candidates. Tagomi compares people who are ignorant about the nature of evil to blind moles, which cannot truly see the world around them and must move blindly. Unlike these people, Tagomi's eyes have been opened - he knows that evil is real.

It is very peculiar that Baynes does not understand Swedish - after all, he is supposedly from Sweden himself. Dick uses this subtle incident to show that Baynes has been lying about a major feature of his identity, and that Tagomi has been clever enough to figure it out. Baynes' true identity becomes more and more complicated.