Last Updated on September 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 509
(The entire section contains 509 words.)
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this The Leavers study guide. You'll get access to all of the The Leavers content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
Everything seems to be going well until Polly disappears without a trace one day when Deming is eleven years old. Since Polly had previously spoken of moving to Florida, Deming wonders if perhaps Polly finally just decided to move there without telling anyone, but he cannot believe that she would leave without at least notifying him after the fact. When Deming asks Leon for more information, Leon simply states that Polly is "visiting friends." Deming is concerned that his mother has met with foul play, but the possibility that her troubles are tied to her immigration status never enters Deming's mind. The situation becomes even more complex once Leon goes missing, too.
With no parents left to look after him, Deming ultimately ends up being fostered by a couple in upstate New York: Kay and Peter. Kay and Peter, who are kind and well-meaning, decide to rechristen Deming as Daniel Wilkinson. They encourage Daniel to work hard in school. We read of Daniel's difficulty in adjusting to his new life and family and how out of place he feels as the only Asian person in an all-white upstate enclave.
Later, after having lost track of him years earlier, Daniel unexpectedly receives word from Michael. Daniel also eventually returns to China in an attempt to learn more about his mother and his own family's history, and he has to come to terms with the fact that his mother is not particularly maternal. He learns that Polly even tried to abandon him as a baby in New York but that she couldn't go through with it. It's not that Polly doesn't care for her son, but she has always had her own dreams, and being a mother was not part of those dreams. Still, mother and son are eventually reunited in China and find a measure of peace together.