Part 3, Chapter 1 Summary
The narration of the story returns to a third-person point of view and is focused on Ruth’s perspective. A new character is introduced, that of Mr. Tang, an intellectual who is translating LuLing’s memoir for Ruth. Although Ruth has not yet read her mother’s memoir, she senses that Mr. Tang has fallen in love with the woman in the story—young LuLing. Mr. Tang often calls Ruth to ask for information about her mother. One day, Mr. Tang requests photographs. He tells Ruth they will help him better understand who LuLing is so he can translate not only her words but also her intentions. Although Ruth wants to ask Mr. Tang several questions about her mother’s history, she refrains from doing so. She wants to wait until she has the memoir in her hands and can read it on her own.
Ruth has moved into her mother’s home. She tells Art that she must do this because she fears for her mother’s safety. Art is suspicious, though, and wonders if Ruth’s leaving is revealing an underlying problem in their relationship. Ruth is reluctant to be honest with Art either because she does not want to expose her true feelings or because she does not fully understand them herself. However, when LuLing makes a comment about Ruth’s separation from Art, Ruth senses that her mother has hit a nerve.
LuLing tells Ruth that in moving out her daughter is making Art pay more attention to her. LuLing never understood why Ruth would move in with Art without first being married to him. She tells Ruth that in living with him without the commitment of a marriage, Art was gaining what he wanted without making any effort to claim it.
The longer Ruth lives away from Art, the more she questions their relationship. She is concerned that she does not miss him. The separation has merely given her a chance to reconnect to herself. She does not miss Art’s daughters, either. She is content in her new role as her mother’s caretaker.
When Mr. Tang calls to tell Ruth that he has completed his translation, Ruth invites him to dinner. She tells her mother than an old friend from China wants to pay her a visit. As Ruth watches Mr. Tang and her mother interact, she is amazed at how enlivened her mother becomes. Mr. Tang, who has become familiar with LuLing’s background through his work on the translation, is able to...
(The entire section is 642 words.)