Part 1, Chapters 4-5 Summary
For this year’s Full Moon Festival, Ruth has taken on the role of hostess for her family reunion. She has reserved tables at the Fountain Court, one of her mother’s favorite Chinese restaurants. Ruth was happy in anticipating the event until Art tells her his ex-wife, Miriam, had asked to be included, along with her husband and their two sons. Ruth complains that there is not enough room for more people, but Art is not one to turn down any of Miriam’s requests. On the other side of the issue, Ruth had always held the Full Moon Festival as her family’s response to Thanksgiving. This is a family affair, and she does not like having to include Miriam. However, she gives in.
Art’s parents are included and arrive first. They are, as usual, cool toward Ruth; in contrast, they show exuberance when Miriam walks in. Art’s girls are also very excited to see their paternal grandparents, but they barely even acknowledge LuLing when she enters. Ruth also notices how all the Chinese-related members of the group sit on one side of the table and the Caucasian people sit on the other.
The dishes Ruth had ordered reflect her consideration of the Chinese members of the group. The food leans toward a traditional Chinese menu, which LuLing would appreciate. There are jellyfish, tofu, and glutinous rice cakes, for example, which the children eventually all reject with verbal disgust.
During the meal, Ruth’s Auntie Gal offers stories about some of her new adventures with LuLing, including almost being thrown in jail. Auntie Gal is exaggerating, but LuLing had argued with a waiter after a lunch she and LuLing had shared. LuLing insisted that she had already paid the man, which was untrue. Auntie Gal also tells Ruth about how she teased LuLing about arriving at her house at six in the morning, under the mistaken notion that they had previously planned an early morning appointment.
After dinner, Ruth hands out presents for everyone. One present for her mother is a framed old photograph Ruth had uncovered. It is a picture of her mother and Auntie Gal as young girls, flanking their mother. Ruth’s brother, Billy, enjoys the picture, but LuLing insists that the woman in the photograph is not her real mother. Ruth...
(The entire section is 602 words.)