Why did Lili Yang visit old Mrs. Pan in the story "The Good Deed"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lili Yang visits Mrs. Pan because she is asked to do so by her friend Sophia Pan, who is Mrs. Pan's daughter-in-law.  Sophia and her husband are concerned about Mrs. Pan because she is very homesick for her native China, and is deteriorating in the home the family shares in New York.  Lili Yang is a social worker who speaks Chinese.  The Pans hope that by sharing her memories with someone who speaks her language, Mrs. Pan will regain some of her zest for life.

Mrs. Pan was brought to America by her son, who was afraid that she would be killed in her ancestral home when "the rowdies (took) power".  The old woman has not been able to adjust to her new life, however; she has no appetite, and is intimidated by the noise of the city and the behavior of her Americanized grandchildren.  Mrs. Pan longs for her old life, but has no one to talk to at home because her son is always busy working, and no one else speaks her language.  Feeling isolated and useless, Mrs. Pan is wasting away.

"Concerned beyond endurance", Mr. Pan asks his wife if she knows anyone who can come a speak Chinese with his mother.  He is afraid he will have saved his mother from death in her village only to have her die in New York.  Sophia Pan is also afraid, because if Mrs. Pan dies, she has made her son promise to bury her in China, and Sophia fears that if her husband returns to China, he himself will be killed there.  She contacts her friend Lili Yang to explain the situation, and Lili agrees to come to visit Mrs. Pan.