Names in The Bonesetter's Daughter have a connection to the person's heritage and true self. LuLing wants to know the name of her mother—the woman she knows only as the Bonesetter's Daughter—and to better understand her past. Ruth wants to know her family's true name so that she can experience the connection with her heritage that she's been denied; when she finally learns her name and the history associated with it, she's able to better understand her mother, LuLing, and be more at peace with her and with herself.
LuLing grows up not knowing that Precious Auntie is her true mother. She only knows that her mother was the Bonesetter's Daughter. Precious Auntie shows LuLing her true family name when she is six, but she can't remember it as an adult and regrets the loss. She calls her mother "Gu" to Ruth, but Ruth realizes it means "bone" and thinks it's a reference to LuLing's mother's family's profession. However, near the end, Ruth learns that "Gu" can have other meanings. GaoLing explains that:
"It sounds the same as the bone gu, but it's written a different way. The third-tone gu can mean many things: 'old,' 'gorge,' 'bone,' also 'thigh,' 'blind,' 'grain,' 'merchant,' lots of things. And the way 'bone' is written can also stand for 'character.' That's why we use that expression 'It's in your bones.' It means, 'That's your character.'"
They also find out that Ruth's grandmother's full name was Gu Liu Xin. As soon as she hears it, Ruth understands that her grandmother existed and that she, LuLing, and Lui Xin all belong to each other.
Ruth also doesn't understand her true name until it is revealed to her at the end of the novel. Amy Tan writes,
Ruth was amazed and gratified that her mother had put so much heart into naming her. For most of her childhood, she had hated both her American and her Chinese names, the old-fashioned sound of "Ruth," which her mother could not even pronounce, and the way "Luyi" sounded like the name of a boy, a boxer, or a bully.
This deeper understanding helps her make peace with both her mother and her Chinese heritage. Caring for her aging and ailing mother no longer seems like the burden it did to Ruth at the beginning of the novel.