Part 3, Chapter 2 Summary
Ruth has read her mother’s memoir and becomes much more sensitive to her mother’s character as well as to her needs. The story of her mother’s youth gives Ruth a much deeper appreciation for her mother as a courageous woman.
At GaoLing’s birthday party, Ruth takes the opportunity to ask her aunt questions about her mother and her past. She asks GaoLing about the orphanage and especially about Precious Auntie. GaoLing is surprised that Ruth knows the truth. GaoLing says that back then, being born out of wedlock was a great disgrace. Even after LuLing came to the United States, GaoLing says, she was afraid the authorities would send her back to China if they discovered she was not truly GaoLing’s sister. Later, LuLing was afraid that her prospective husband, Edwin, would not marry her if he found out the truth. So GaoLing promised to keep the story of Precious Auntie a complete secret—and she has kept it all these years. Ruth suspects that LuLing only started writing her stories down because she was afraid she would forget them. She wanted Ruth to know the truth.
When Ruth tells GaoLing that she has had LuLing’s memoirs translated, GaoLing tells her that she would have done that for her. Ruth does not admit it, but she feels reluctant about her aunt’s reading the book. There are passages in her mother’s memoir that Ruth believes might hurt GaoLing’s feelings. For instance, there is the part of the story in which LuLing feels disappointed when GaoLing does not insist that LuLing should be sent with her when GaoLing first comes to America.
Then Ruth tells GaoLing how she and Art have temporarily fooled LuLing into staying at the assisted living home. GaoLing tries to make Ruth feel guilty for having abandoned her mother. Ruth is concerned about her aunt’s reaction; she had hoped that GaoLing would understand that caring for LuLing is only going to become more difficult as the disease progresses. However, GaoLing insists that if Ruth cannot handle her mother’s care, she could. GaoLing says this despite the fact that she...
(The entire section is 546 words.)