“The Transplant” Summary and Analysis

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Last Updated on January 6, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 954

Arthur Arellano has a garage full of counterfeit merchandise. These goods with fake designer tags from labels such as Prada, Chanel, and Versace do not belong to him but instead to Louis Vu.

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Louis justifies himself by claiming that the availability of fake designer merchandise actually drives up the price of the originals, and “everyone wins” this way. Louis has even offered Arthur and his wife, Norma, a ten percent commission of sales, which Arthur has refused. Instead, Arthur offers the storage space to Louis as a means of repaying Louis’s father, whom Arthur believes saved his life by giving Arthur his liver the preceding year.

Arthur had found out that he was dying approximately eighteen months prior. Diagnosed with autoimmune hepatitis, he faced the reality of his own body rejecting his liver. He needed a transplant to survive, and when his health began to really fail him, Norma, from whom he was effectively separated, returned home to care for him. A year after the operation, an error in the hospital's communication system sent the Arellanos a survey with the name of the liver donor printed in the paperwork. The man’s name was Men Vu, and Arthur had begun calling all the Vus in Orange County to try to find the family of the deceased man. He had finally found Louis Vu, who told Arthur that the deceased donor was indeed his father.

Arthur works for his brother, Martin, at a landscaping business that formerly belonged to their father. He had left the business only to Martin because he didn’t trust Arthur, likely due to his gambling addiction. The relationship between the brothers is strained at best, and Arthur is aware that at least one of Martin’s workers is an undocumented immigrant.

Arthur returns home one day to find that someone has called for him, a man named Minh Vu. Arthur returns the call, and the man says that he is the son of Men Vu. At first, Arthur believes that this must be Louis’s brother, but this association only confuses the caller. Minh tells Arthur that his father donated his liver when he died, along with his skin, corneas, ligaments, pancreas, lungs, and heart. Arthur received Minh’s father’s liver, and his father had a total of eight children—none of whom are named Louis. Minh is convincing, offering X-rays and ashes to confirm the truth of his story, and Arthur hangs up with the realization that Louis has been lying to him.

When Arthur confronts Louis, Louis simply sighs and shrugs. He tells Arthur that he never meant to hurt him. Instead, when Arthur called looking for the family of a man who had saved his life, Louis had simply “played along” to see how far this relationship could take him. He explains that this is how he has “gotten ahead” in life. Arthur immediately demands that Louis clear his merchandise out of the garage. Louis tells him that he simply cannot do that. He clarifies that this is a business arrangement and not a personal one. Arthur repeats his demand to clear out all of the boxes immediately. Louis tells him that he really doesn’t have anywhere to take them and that if Arthur should choose to call the police, it could be difficult to explain why he has such a quantity of fake designer merchandise. Arthur replies that he’ll take it all to the desert and leave it there, and Louis cautions him to reconsider this plan. After all, he tells Arthur, he has information about Martin’s employees, alluding to the fact that they are likely undocumented immigrants. Arthur realizes that a raid on...

(The entire section contains 954 words.)

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