(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

It is the early morning of New Year’s Day. After they close the restaurant, Fong Wing and Lee Mun collect their pay and leave. Lee Mun wants to go to the House of Ten-Thousand Delights, a gambling house, to celebrate New Year’s, but Fong Wing fears that if he loses all of his money, his wife will be mad at him.

On the way to a Chinese grocery store, Fong Wing has a sad feeling. The streets littered with shattered red paper—the remains of thousands of exploded firecrackers—look as empty as his life. He and Lee Mun start to talk about children. Fong Wing had four children, but two sons were killed in France during World War I and the third son was killed during World War II. Now he has only one daughter left, and his friend wonders who will carry Fong Wing’s name in the future.

Fong Wing becomes depressed. The fish bellies at the Chinese grocery store remind him of his third son because they were his favorite dish. He suddenly realizes that although it is New Year’s Day, he can hope for no new beginning, as no grandchildren bear his own name. He laments that an old man has no tomorrow without sons and decides to go to the gambling house with Lee Mun.

Inside the gambling house, Fong Wing notices that the dealer at the fan tan table is very young; he appears not to be over twenty-five. Fong Wing cannot figure out why such a young man would be content working in a gambling house. In the old days, for such a young man to work...

(The entire section is 530 words.)