In "Chee's Daughter" by Juanita Platero, why is Chee at a hard point in his life?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Chee is at a hard point in his life because his wife has just succumbed to the coughing sickness; her death, though not unexpected, has left him comfortless. To add to his grief, his wife's family has claimed Chee's little daughter for their own.

Chee's mother tells her son that...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Chee is at a hard point in his life because his wife has just succumbed to the coughing sickness; her death, though not unexpected, has left him comfortless. To add to his grief, his wife's family has claimed Chee's little daughter for their own.

Chee's mother tells her son that there is nothing he can do about it, as the custom is that a little girl belongs to her mother's people. Undeterred, Chee goes to reason with his father-in-law, Old Man Fat, but he is unsuccessful in claiming his daughter back. So, not only is Chee bereft of his wife, but he has also lost custody of his little daughter.

In the end, Chee decides to earn his daughter back. He works the land and plants a variety of vegetables, believing what he has always been taught: "that a man took care of his land and it in turn took care of him." At the end of the season, after collecting a full harvest, Chee again approaches his in-laws. This time, however, the tables have been turned. His in-laws are no longer confident in their ability to earn an easy living. The trading post has been closed, and tourists have become scarce. This means that Old Man Fat can no longer collect rent from the trader who rented his strip of land, and he can no longer make money off of tourists.

When his in-laws see the wonderful harvest Chee has brought to them, they grudgingly consent to let Chee take his daughter back with him. So, with the harvest from his work in the fields, Chee is finally able to banish his grief by reclaiming the one who is most precious to him. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team