The Bonesetter's Daughter Questions and Answers
by Amy Tan

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As LuLing loses her memory, how does her story become more clear to Ruth? How does Tan explore the transience of memory in The Bonesetter’s Daughter?

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The transience, or impermanence, of memory is a central theme in Amy Tan's book The Bonesetter's Daughter. As she gets older, LuLing is losing her memories, and with them her connection to her past in China, which she would like to pass on to her daughter, Ruth. Ruth eventually gains access to LuLing's writings from when she lived in China long ago, and though Ruth is first hesitant to read them, the progression of her mother's Alzheimer's disease inspires her to connect with her family's past. This emphasizes both how memory is impermanent and how passing on memories is the only way to preserve a family's history. It also highlights the ways that written records are more permanent and reliable than memories.

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