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The Bonesetter's Daughter | Character Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2066 words Published: 15th May 2017

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LuLing: Ruth’s mother. She immigrated to United States from China through her sister, Gao Ling. She shows how her life had changed through her writings in part 2. She is very emotional character who loves and acts passionately

Ruth: LuLing’s daughter (of course). As her mother loses memory, she becomes more considerate about LuLing, and searches for her memory instead. This eventually helps Ruth grow mature and find her own identity.


Finding Identity

Through searching mother’s history, Ruth finds out the background of her immigrant mother. This eventually builds up Ruth’s maturity and her identity as a Chinese Woman.

Chapter Notes

Part 1

Chapter 1

Ruth Young lost her faith on August 12th for eight years. It happened first at Art’s house in San Francisco. August 12th was a day shooting stars fell. Her mother took this as an omen and told Ruth that they were actually “melting ghost bodies.” Ruth was a book doctor and she had daughters named Dory and Fia. Ruth always looked her day through fingers of her hands, listing from 1 to 10. One day, Ruth couldn’t memorize what nine was. Art, who Ruth had met in a yoga class 10 years ago, complained about making things too much complicated. Ruth finally remembered her number 9 was to take her mother to the doctor.

Chapter 2

When Ruth was young, she loved spicy turnips instead of junk food. She had imagined through the limited space, which she continued to present. Everyone looked down at her job, for she made it seem easier. She helped to write “The Cult of Personal freedom,” “The Cult of Compassion,” “The Cult of Envy,” “The Biology of Sexual Attraction,” “The Physic of Human Nature,” and “The Geography of the Soul” to make books more interesting. One of the clients had a pseudonym of Agapi Agnos with real name of Doris DeMatteo. Gideon described her so accommodating that would bend backwad. LuLing was very healthy except that she had a type of memory loss that Ruth thought about taking her to the therapist. She always tried to teach Ruth with Chinese. GaoLing and LuLing were two different women who sometimes fought, and sometimes went along. Two sisters had married to brothers named Edmund and Edwin. Edwin died in a car accident. Luling always lamented on her great husband’s death. Her mother’s health was getting worse.

Chapter 3

Luling asked about Fia starting sixth grade while it was actually Dory. Luling had forgotten that her cat, Fu-fu, died by a dog. Dr. wHuey examined Luling. On documents, Luling’s birth year was 1921, but she told him that it’s 1916. Ruth got frustrated by the complex questions doctor asked the mother. Luling said she had seen O.J. kill his wife in real life. The doctor suggested that Lulings might have Alzheimer’s. Ruth told Art about this in Chinese, but her children complained about speaking in Chinese. Art’s daughter calls Luling “Walpo” Ruth remembered her past when her mother talked to her in Chinese. Ruth just decided to be silent while her mother’s treated. Lulin brought a sand tray and a brush to make Ruth write. Lulings call Precious Auntie as “Doggie” and asked for forgivenesss. Ruth invited Miriam, Art’s divorced wife, to Moon Festival dinner.

Chapter 4

On the night of Full Moon Festival, Ruth excitedly picked a place called Fountain Court, which her mother disliked. Dinner went on as the Chinese style of “Thanksgiving.” There were Billy with his four children, Sally the aeronautical engineer, and George the Violinist of SF Symphony. None of the children liked the dinner for its looks. Gaoling told people about the incident when Luling persisted to say she had paid the bill. Ruth gave out a speech and presents to her family. Ruth was satisfied with dinner. Luling was in confusion and said Precious Auntie was her real mother. Luling gave Ruth the necklace that Ruth had given her for present. Ruth was about her mother’s symptoms.

Chapter 5

Ruth insured Luling that she was alright, and Luling said she wasn’t afraid of death. Luling now visited her for dinner every day. Ruth realized that her mother was mentally ill. Luling became angry when Ruth treated her as a special client. Luling often threatened to kill herself, as if she had no reason to live on. Ruth hired maids and housekeepers, but they all quitted for Luling’s violent behaviors. Ruth had a plan to go to Hawaii within few days, but she decided that she would stay with her mother. One of Ruth’s clients named Ted fired Ruth as a ghost writer. Ruth went to her mother’s house, but she was found through calling cops. LuLing was trying to go to grocery store. Ruth finally asked GaoLing to help take care of her mom.

Chapter 6

When Ruth was young, she often thought about death. She and her mother used to live at the flatlands of Berkeley. There was a couple named Lance and Dottie. Ruth had a crush on Lance, who was as handsome as a celebrity. Ruth convinced her mother that she got invited to watch the Wizard of Oz together, Ruth put herself right on toilet which had Lance’s urine and thought she was going to be pregnant. Dottie found out about this, and the couple divorced in confusion. Ruth apologized to Lance, but Lance tried to rape Ruth. Ruth told her mother that Precious Auntie wanted them to move to San Francisco.

Chapter 7

Ruth began to clean the house. Ruth threw away everything her mother had been saving. She found a diary on cupboard. She once got into a huge fight with her mother about smoking cigarettes, which had Ruth to write harsh things on the diary. When Ruth arrived home, she found out that her mother fell off out of window and broke her bodies. Ruth regretted what she had written on the diary. Ruth and LuLing frequently got into fight still. Ruth found mother’s writings and decided to translate them to learn more about her past.

Part 2

Luling was raised by the Liu Clan within the village called Immortal Heart. Precious Auntie called Luling a doggie. After ancient tree died, the fame of the village had declined. The family was working in ink-making, and was successful enough. About thirty people lived together. Precious Auntie’s father had a ability of “bonesetting” to heal bones. He was so good that patient came from everywhere. One day, coffin maker and Baby Uncle saw their fortunes. Precious Auntie was a rooster, while Chang was a snake, which was a great match. Precious Auntie however, turned down Chang to marrie Hu Sen. Chang killed her father during the marriage, and Hu Sen died from Horse kicking him. Precious Auntie tried to commit suicide by drinking burning oil, but it only left her scarred.

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In 1929, scientist went to Dragon Bone Hill. Rumors said that scientists were buying the bones with a good price. Precious Auntie put back the bones to where they were found. Scientists were looking for “Peking Man.” Precious Auntie, however, didn’t say where the bones were, while everyone was so eager to sell bones. One day, Chang came and LuLing accidently told she knew where the bones were. Few days later, “Peking” asked LuLing to come over for marriage arrangement. LuLing ignored Precious Aunt and went to Old Widow Lau’s house for preparation. Even though LuLing felt uncomfortable, she could make everyone happy with the meeting, except for Precious Auntie.

Since Changs asked LuLing to be their family, Precious Auntie stopped to help LuLing. Precious Auntie gave LuLing a writing that said how she was LuLing’s real mother. LuLing, however, couldn’t finish it, and never got to discover the truth. Precious Auntie was found dead after LuLing announced her future marriage with the Changs. LuLing, in sadness, cancelled the marriage and left for the “End of the World” to search for corpse of Precious Auntie. The family’s ink shop burnt down by the ghost of Precious Auntie. The officials came to inform father about the damages he had done to the neighbors and asked for payment. Father called for a priest to capture the ghost, and sent LuLing to orphanage to stop ghost from returning.

LuLing was influenced by some foreigners in the orphanage that she changed her religion to Christianity. LuLing was one of the few who could read and write, among seventy children. When there was a good weather, Teacher Pan took the girls to Dragon Bone Hill. The girls helped scientists when they were asked to. Precious Auntie had left oracle bone and small photograph of her for LuLing. One day, LuLing found a letter from Gao Ling that she wasn’t satisfied with her marriage to Chang. Kai Jing, Teacher Pan, and LuLing made a banner for New Year, and took it to the fair. Kai Jing explained how magnificent the banner was. LuLing fell in love with Kai Jing.

LuLing and Kai Jing tried to make love, but the storage room was so filthy. The news that there will soon be a war against Japanese reaches the orphanage. GaoLing came over and talked how the priest was actually a fraud. She stayed at the orphanage, and built a friendship with Sister Yu. LuLing and Kai Jing married. Even though the war was still held, Kai Jing went to dig for dragon bones. He and other men got caught by soldiers to join army against Japanese. They soon found out that Chinese were captured, and soldiers were shot one by one.

Japanese soldiers occupied the orphanage and forced men to speak where the communists were. Japanese people kill every single man except for Teacher Pan. LuLing and other girls faked to have diseases with chicken bloods to go to Peking. Teacher Pan and girls continued on with the ink shop to live on. War finally ended in 1945. Miss Grutoff was sick and she needed to go to America for treatment. Gao Ling promised to invite LuLing and followed Miss Grutoff as an assistant. Teacher Pan also planned to marry.

LuLing received a letter that Miss Grutoff had died and that LuLing had to wait until Gao Ling became a citizen. LuLing decided to move to cheaper house to support herself until Gao Ling invited her. LuLing had internal conflict of selling oracle bone, but she decided to just keep it. She became a made Miss Patsy and Lady Ina. This improved LuLing’s English skills. Gao Ling sent a letter indicating their future husbands. Fu Nan came in to ask for money, threatening their situations. With the money LuLing had been earning and by selling the bone, she could buy the ticket and flew to United States.

Part 3

Chapter 1

Ruth asked Mr. Tang to translate her mother’s paper. She discussed about staying with her mother with Art, who disapproved the plan. Ruth tried to make her mother to draw things that could bring her memory back. Twice a week, Ruth went to Vallejo Street for dinner. Art wanted Ruth back, but Ruth was trying to take care of her mother. Mr. Tang finished his work and gave the paper to Ruth. LuLing actually enjoyed a talk with Mr. Tang. Ruth was surprised by the paper that had been translated. Art suggested moving LuLing to assisted-living residence, but LuLing refused. So they brought up a plan of radon leak to deceive LuLing to move to Mira Mar Manor.

Chapter 2

The Young Family gathered to celebrate Gao Ling’s 77th (or 82nd) birthday. Ruth and Gao Ling talked about LuLing’s writings. Ruth said LuLing was moving into safer home. Gao Ling explains some stories like how Chang was executed for cheating on people and the origin of name “Ruth,” which came from Miss Grutoff and Sister Yu. There was also stock market money LuLing had saved for Ruth. LuLing had fallen into the pool and almost drowned herself, which drove Ruth to sadness. Ruth and Art had their anniversary dinner at Bruno’s supper club.

Chapter 3

Ruth visited Asian Art Museum with her mother, Art, and Mr. Tang. Mr. Tang showed the Oracle Bone. LuLing’s family name was Gu, which meant bone. Ruth finally found that Precious Auntie’s real name was Gu Lix Xin.


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