Part 1, Chapters 6-7 Summary
Ruth asks her Auntie Gal to take care of LuLing for a week or so. Ruth does not have the time right then to give her mother the care that she needs. In addition, she needs time to make a decision concerning what to do with her mother in the future. LuLing is no longer capable of taking care of herself.
While her mother is at Auntie Gal’s, Ruth goes to her mother’s place and begins to clean the apartment; she sorts through the old clothes and bath towels and sheets, and she cleans out the kitchen cabinets. The process stirs memories about her childhood.
There was a time when Ruth and her mother lived in a small, three-room cottage (a converted garage) in Berkeley. LuLing had moved there because it allowed Ruth to attend a high-quality elementary school. The cottage sat in the backyard of the home of Lance and Dottie Rogers. While living there, eleven-year-old Ruth developed a crush on Lance. He reminded her of a movie star. It was during this time that Ruth was also learning in school the rudimentary facts about puberty and menstruation. The information her teacher provided was embarrassing and not completely forthcoming. Facts about the biology of the female body were provided, but nothing was said about the sexual act. Ruth’s friend Wendy attempted to fill in the blanks. Unfortunately, much of Wendy's embellishments were faulty. For example, Wendy told Ruth that a woman became pregnant after a man urinated inside her. With this news, Ruth panicked.
Just a few nights prior to Wendy’s informing her of this, Ruth had used Lance’s bathroom. She had sat on the toilet seat and found it was wet. She assumed Lance had urinated without having lifted the seat. Ruth’s mother had told her that men did this. So when Ruth went home that night, she did not bathe herself. She was so infatuated with Lance that she liked the idea of having something personal to him clinging to her body. However, when Wendy told her that men’s pee made women pregnant, Ruth was convinced she was going to have Lance’s baby.
When Ruth confessed her maternal condition to Wendy, Wendy relayed this news to Lance’s wife. After a very loud argument between Dottie and Lance, Ruth saw Lance leave his house. Later, in the process of consoling Ruth, Dottie learned the truth. Ruth felt concerned about all the trouble she had caused, so shortly afterward she told her mother that they must move. Ruth was too frightened to continue living so near to Lance. To convince LuLing that they must find another place to live, Ruth made it appear that the dead Precious Auntie, whom LuLing now claims is her real mother, had told her that they must find a new home in a place called Land’s End.
Back in the present, while Ruth is cleaning up...
(The entire section is 749 words.)