One must not forget however that there are signs that the young LuLing is still in there somewhere. For example the fact that LuLing is still strongly superstitious. She has never stopped believing in this curse that has been following her family for so many generations. She has even tried to introduce Ruth to this curse when she will haunt her when her mother is dead. LuLing thought she was using Ruth to communicate with Precious Auntie’s ghost. Also she believed that the accident that Ruth had when she was six was a warning from Precious Auntie about the curse. This shows us a connection between the two LuLings.
Another connection between the two is the fact that LuLing teaches her daughter Ruth in the same fashion that she was taught by Precious Auntie. This knowledge is passed on from generation to generation. LuLing can see that she has now taken up Precious Aunties position as a mother and as a teacher and she must treat Ruth accordingly. This change in her personality is not completely random like some of the previous changes. In this case it involves her from moving up a level in the chain of command. She used to be at the bottom with people controlling her and telling her what to do.
But now she finds herself a level higher. She now has the authority to control and command someone. Most of her life was spent at the bottom of the chain but now that she has risen, this has reflected upon her. This is why she is such a control freak with Ruth. Also, the fear of the curse following her daughter has increased LuLing’s desire to keep her away from all the harmful things in life. Knowing modern teenagers, we can appreciate the fact that this was an impossible task. LuLing never realized how different her daughter actually is from her.
Growing up in different time periods has different effects on a person’s character. This is why Ruth finds her mother to be far too strict with her. We must not forget that we must not only look at the way Ruth grapples with LuLing when she is middle-aged but also when she was a teenager. She has had to cope with this different LuLing because of this curse and the way her mother has been psychologically shaped during her life. This difference from the LuLing in the manuscripts, who was used to taking orders and following what other people said, is of extreme significance.
However we must not forget the several examples when LuLing as a child was not afraid to stand up to her nursemaid. She could already create a little chart of authority in her mind. She knew that she had to answer to Mother and that she was the one that she needed to please. She was looking for her recognition. Not Precious Auntie’s. As she became older she began to question her nursemaid’s authority over her. She was clearly not as important as any member of the family so why should she have to follow her instructions?
The first time she failed to carry out Precious Auntie’s instructions was when she wanted to tell Mother something that Precious Auntie wanted to say. Before LuLing had the chance to do so, she was silenced by Mother and never tried again even though she was enthusiastically urged by Precious Auntie. The second time was when she said she gave the letter written by the nursemaid to Mother but she had actually disposed of it. The last time she tried to prove that Precious Auntie had no authority over her was when she was going to marry into the Change family completely against her nursemaid’s will.
This of course resulted in her suicide. It is ironic to see how Ruth was challenging LuLing’s authority in a similar way with the cigarettes and several other examples. It is strange how LuLing does not remember how rebellious she felt when she was with Precious Auntie. This might have made her realize that Ruth was feeling exactly the same way. Or she might have realized that she was wrong not to follow Precious Auntie’s instructions and she does not want Ruth to make the same mistake as her. It is easy to find your mistakes once you have aged and have the ability to think back to your past actions and evaluate them.
Of course, with the greater knowledge that can come only with age, one is able to see where he or she went wrong. However it was different for young LuLing and young Ruth. Old LuLing saw her mistakes and wanted to stop young Ruth from living through the same mistakes. So she turns strict for Ruth’s own good, but she does not realize this is making Ruth repeat her mistakes even more. LuLing had been hungry to find out what secrets Ruth held from her. This is also something we would not have thought could be part of the LuLing in the manuscripts.
One would imagine that LuLing knew how important it is for somebody to keep some things to themselves. She herself kept secrets from others. For example: the dragon bones. What if she herself had written down about the Monkeys Jaw and where exactly the dragon bones were hidden? What if someone decided to find out what secrets she kept and read her diary? She would find this act to be just as appalling as Ruth did. A very important quote says what effects this had on Ruth as a child “Didn’t Mom ever realize how her demands for no secrets drove me to hide even more from her?
” Even Ruth herself points out that her mother kept secrets from her. “That was how dishonesty and betrayal started, not in big lies but in small secrets. ” It is very important for us to realize the significance of what Ruth wrote in her diary and she knew that her mother would read it. It is something very similar to what LuLing had said to Precious Auntie and had lead to nearly the same outcomes. “You talk about killing yourself so why don’t you ever do it? I wish you would. Just do it, do it, do it! Go ahead, kill yourself!
Precious Auntie wants you to, and so do I! ” This had resulted in LuLing’s attempt to suicide. She her self had said similar words to Precious Auntie which must have hurt just as much if not more. However, Precious Auntie did not fail at committing suicide. It is the same scene relived over twice. It was all coming back to LuLing. What she had said and done to her mother was now being said and done to her by her daughter. This is pure irony. This is how much LuLing had changed. From being the culprit, she now became the victim.
In fact one can see a lot of similarity between young LuLing and Ruth, and Old LuLing and Precious Auntie. This is how different LuLing had become: from daughter to mother, from rebel to control freak. There is one more similarity that I would like to point out. This is between LuLing senior and Great-Granny. Those two figures have an amazing amount of connections even if LuLing was never related to Great-Granny. They both suffered from a disease which caused confusion. This could have been seen in Great-Granny when she kept on looking for her dead grand-son Hu Sen.
They both had moments when they showed a sign of cleverness. LuLing probably looked at Great-Granny and found her condition very curious. The final section of the book does not deal with LuLing that deeply but mostly about Ruth and the manuscripts. We find out that Ruth has decided to go and live with her mother so that she can be closer to her. This is what she feels she has to do because she is worried about her so much. Ruth had noticed another very interesting observation which proves that her mother is far more sensible when she is speaking in Chinese.
Somehow she seems to understand more and is less confused when other people are talking to her. One example of this situation is when she asks what was wrong with Ruth on the Full Moon Festival. She spoke to her in Chinese and did not fail to see the worrying look on her daughter’s face. Lucky for Ruth she was not able to guess the real reason for her worries. When LuLing started to meet with Mr. Tang and she could freely speak Mandarin to him it became evident how much easier LuLing was able to think.
She even managed to remember her mother’s name. It was as if she never really suffered from Dementia. But of course there are still the undeniable signs of the illness. For example when she describes the dragon bones to Art in Chinese and then translates what she had just said in English to Mr. Tang. Ruth herself pointed out to Mr. Tang when he said he wanted to meet LuLing “She won’t be the same woman who wrote those pages. ” Ruth has realized how much different LuLing had been in her youth from the elderly mother that she has to take care of now.