So Far from the Bamboo Grove

by Yoko Kawashima Watkins

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What happens in Chapter 8 of So Far From the Bamboo Grove?

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In Chapter 8, Yoko's patience with the trash man allows her to enjoy a conversation with him despite his speech impediment. Later, Yoko discovers that the girls in the classroom have made an insulting drawing about her two rucksacks; however, the trash man suddenly materializes and tears up the drawing.

Meanwhile, Yoko doesn't know how to break the news to Ko that she no longer wishes to attend school. As the days progress, the only thing she has to look forward to is her mother's return. One Friday, her mother does return, and Yoko is ecstatic. However, her mother gravely informs her that her maternal grandparents have died in the July bombing, along with her paternal grandparents. As they converse, Yoko realizes that her mother is sick. She races to get her mother some water from the well and fervently hopes that Ko will soon be back from school.

Sadly, the girls' mother dies before Ko returns. Because the girls cannot afford a casket, they decide to have their mother cremated. Mrs. Masuda, a woman who regularly frequents the train station, offers to go to the crematorium with the girls. Both Ko and Yoko are in such a state of grief that they can only acquiesce. Eventually, Mrs. Masuda offers the girls a place to live; their living space will be a room above the clog factory owned by her and her husband.

The girls set to work to clean up the room, as it has not been cleaned in a while. After they are done, they set up an altar in their mother's memory and place her mess-kit urn in front of the altar. In front of the urn, the girls also place their mother's sword and her canteen filled with small, maple branches.

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