The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan

Start Your Free Trial

how does ruth feel about her mother in the beginning of the passage?

Expert Answers info

Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Hello! In the beginning of the story, we are introduced to Ruth, a ghost writer, who lives with her boyfriend, Art Kamen, and his two daughters, Dory and Fia. Ruth feels that her mother is a very superstitious person. There is a seeming disconnect between the very modern Chinese daughter and the very traditional Chinese mother.

To her mother, just about anything was a sign of ghosts: broken bowls, barking dogs, phone calls with only silence or heavy breathing at the other end.

One gets the idea that Ruth resents the guilt-trips her mother inflicts on her for not being a traditionally minded Chinese daughter. She even admits that one of the benefits of losing her voice once every year is the lack of necessity of feeling 'guilty for not calling her mother.' When Ruth comes across her mother's manuscript of her life-story hidden between some long neglected papers, she again feels guilty for not having read the story. Like many immigrant children raised in a foreign country, her knowledge of Chinese characters is not quite what it needs to be in order to fluently translate her mother's hand-written story.

Her mother had once drilled Chinese calligraphy into her reluctant brain, and she still recognized some of the characters: "thing, "I" "truth." But unraveling the rest required her to match LuLing's squiggly radicals to uniform ones in a Chinese-English dictionary.

Knowing that she would be castigated for 'not studying Chinese hard enough when she was little,' Ruth rather prefers to translate the words herself. Although this is a drawn out process, she reasons that she will not then have to...

(The entire section contains 533 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Ask a Question