Mark Reads ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’: Chapter 13

In the thirteenth chapter of The Ocean at the End of the Lane, the narrator discovers the truth of the ocean in the Hempstock’s backyard. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Ocean at the End of the Lane.

Chapter XIII

“Chicken strips!” my brother exclaimed. “Get me the chicken strips!”

My mom turned to me and asked if I wanted the same thing. I nodded, a smile plastered on my face, and she ambled off with my sister in hand, leaving us behind at the table with our father. My brother continued to plot out the remainder of our day after having been interrupted by our mom.

“Okay, so we still have to go on Space Mountain,” he said. “And it was a long line earlier, so I’m sure it’s still long.”

“We’ll get over there, I promise,” my dad said. “Just enjoy your day. We’ll get to everything.”

“I am enjoying my day!” my brother replied, beaming. “I wasn’t scared by the drop on Pirates of the Caribbean. I think Splash Mountain is way worse.”

That’s like the scariest ride ever, I said, agreeing with him.

“I don’t know,” Dad said. “I heard Space Mountain is entirely in the dark.”

We marveled at this, our mouths agape at the very idea of a ride entirely in the dark. My brother pulled the map of Disneyland out of his back pocket, the corners and edges crumpled from too many unfoldings and sloppy re-foldings, and he spread it out on the table. He pointed to different lands, telling our father where we had to go next, and where the parade route started, and what time we needed to be in position so we could see the fireworks. He was still going on when my mother returned with two bright red plastic trays of food for us, urging my brother to get the map off the table so we could eat.

“Now, you can’t go on any rides until you finish your lunch,” she said, but watched in muted horror as my brother began stuffing fries in his mouth as if he were a human conveyor belt. “Michael, slow down. We have all day to go on rides. And I don’t want you throwing up, either.”

“Oh, I won’t do that,” he said. (He threw up after the Teacups. To this day, that was the only time I’ve ever ridden them because of what happened.)

I heard The Beach Boys blaring on the speaker above us. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice.” This IS nice, I thought. I slowly ate my lunch as I listened to my mother and brother discuss what we’d all go on next.



  • Okay, I need to quote this because it’s one of my favorite things EVER: “I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in the small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I found joy in the things that made me happy.”
  • WHICH IS ALSO VERY RELEVANT TO STUFF I BROUGHT UP YESTERDAY. So, I wanted to talk about a memory that was forever tainted with joy. Every time I hear “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” I think of that afternoon cafe in Disneyland, the one located near the entrance to Adventureland and Main Street. That was my first time at Disneyland, and I adored it. I only went once more (for grad night) until I was finally able to afford an Annual Pass two years ago. I have been there like 20 times in 2 years because that place? It’s one of the things that makes me happy every time.
  • I was also very touched by Lettie telling the narrator “Well done” for staying in the circle the entire time. SO PROUD.
  • I was not the slightest bit disappointed by the sequence where the narrator finally enters the ocean. It’s so satisfying to read, both because it finally explains why Lettie referred to it as an ocean and why it’s so important to this novel. This book has been about memory and knowledge (at least in how it’s formatted), so it’s fitting that entering the ocean would fill the narrator with the knowledge of everything. We get glimpses of the world that the Hempstocks are aware of, enough to pique our interest, but not so much that the illusion is lost for us. But it could never last, could it? How could the narrator live as a child knowing everything? Part of the joy of childhood comes from blissful ignorance, and even if the knowledge of all things filled this boy with satisfaction, it wouldn’t have lasted.
  • I also love how loving the Hempstocks are in their effortless sort of way. That sort of comfort is really natural for some people, you know? And yeah, they are weird metaphysical beings or something like that, but the way they treat the narrator plays a big part in why he feels they’re so trustworthy.
  • I am worried, though, that there’s going to be some final twist in the remaining two chapters. How the hell are the Hempstocks going to send the Hunger Birds away at this point? All Lettie did in this chapter was essentially transfer the narrator to their land. STILL UNPREPARED, Y’ALL.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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