The narrator, an older French woman. Now a successful writer in France, the narrator reminisces about her childhood and adolescence in Indochina, focusing on an image that appears to be central to her identity, an image of herself dressed in gold lamé high heels, a silk dress with a very low neckline, and a man’s fedora. As she crosses a branch of the Mekong River, she is watched by a Chinese millionaire in his black chauffeur-driven limousine. Although she is only fifteen and he is twelve years older, she becomes his mistress, accepting money and elegant dinners at expensive restaurants for herself and her impoverished family. They accept his generosity but humiliate him, refusing to acknowledge him because he is Chinese. Even the narrator denies the depth of her feelings when she is confronted by her mother. Although marriage is of no interest to her, he awakens her sensibility and desire, her love of lovemaking. After finishing high school, she leaves Saigon for France to continue her education, thus ending the one-and-a-half-year relationship with her Chinese lover.
The narrator’s lover
The narrator’s lover, a wealthy Chinese heir. Attracted to the young girl he sees standing by the rail on the ferry, he offers her a ride to her boarding school. They become lovers, frequenting his apartment in Cholon, where he awakens her sexual desire. Their relationship cannot last because he is Chinese and...
(The entire section is 549 words.)