Friday, October 16, 2009

Question of the Week (10/16/09)

As LuLing loses her memory, how does her story become more clear to Ruth? How does Tan explore the transience of memory in The Bonesetter's Daughter? Remember to use evidence from the text and post by Sunday. Enjoy your weekend.

31 comments:

Alice.Rottersman said...

Luling losing her memory makes her story more clear to Ruth because it causes Luling to forget to cover up her lies. This prompts Ruth to find the truth. For example, LuLing announces at the Full Moon Festival that Precious Auntie is her mother, "'This one right here, she's my mother.' A chill ran over Ruth's scalp. It was a photograph of her mother's nursemaid, Bao Bomu, Precious Auntie." (102). Then, Ruth discovers the same photograph and realizes her mother might be telling the truth. This helps motivate Ruth to finally translate LuLings story, "What did this mean? Was her mother demented thirty years before? ...both stop counting." (167-169).

Tan explores the briefness of memory NOT by saying, "Yeah, you're going to forget everything someday, sucks for you! You better write it down in a very long diary, put it into a recliner and give it to your child..." but rather by having the memories in her book ever changing. This is cleary stated, "Ruth was amazed...was meaningful." (393).

Jennie said...

As LuLing continues to lose her memory, she mixes up events and people to do with her past and the present. For example, she remembers doing this long ago with Mr. Tang, when really she she has just met him recently. Also, when Ruth, Art, LuLing, and Mr. Tang were looking at an art exhibit, LuLing spoke in Mandarin to Art, then "translated into English for Mr. Tang"(394).
As her condition continues to affect situations like that at the museum, though, LuLing can still remember her childhood, and the far past clearly.
As she gets older and her condition progresses, it is as if LuLing loses the filter that used to always block what she said. She no longer hides anything of her past from Ruth--it is all out in the open.
It also seems as if LuLing can remember certain things now that she couldn't before--like the name of Precious Auntie's family. When Ruth asked LuLing what is was, "her mother hesitated only a moment before answering"(394). Ruth is dissapointed when she realizes that her mother's answer of "Gu" is just because they were a bone-setter family, but it turns out that "Gu" really is right.
Tan explores the transience of memory throughout the book. Memory is ever-changing, as shown by LuLings ability to recall things she couldn't before, or her tend to mix things up now that she's losing some of her memory (see the previous examples). Memory does not always stay the same. Sometimes the facts how you remember them change. Sometimes you remember an event (or a NAME) that you hadn't been able to remember for years. And sometimes, your changing memory can work for the better, and improve your life in a positive way, like LuLing's life improved.

I agree with Alice's statement about Tan's exploration of the "briefness of memory." Tan does this "by having the memories in her book ever changing." I think this is a great way to state how memory is explored in the book.

Michaela Helble said...

It's really because of Lui Ling's memory loss that Ruth begins to understand Lui Ling's past. Before, Ruth "resented Lui Ling's speaking in Chinese" (76) and only wished for Lui Ling to be like other American mothers. Because of this, Ruth had little or no interest in her mother's past and heritage. On top of that, Ruth was forever at odds with her mother, so she most likely would not have wondered about her mother's past when she was angry with her.
Ruth finds the pages about her mother's life and resolves to be there "as her mother told her about her past life." (169). This newfound interest in her mother's past came from, as others have said, Lui Ling's memory slipping so that she no longer remebered to conceal her secrets. For example. Lui Ling insists that she was born in 1916, saying "truth is 1916"(69). Ruth think her mother was born in 1921, but it turns out that she was born in 1916. Also, Lui Ling mentions that Waipo was "not my [Lui Ling's] real mother." (102). This, too, turns out to be true. It's because of her mother's memory slipping and her revealing secrets that prompts Ruth to find out more about her mother's past.
Tan explores the transcience of memory in several ways. First of all, Lui Ling is a great example of the briefness of memory, because she can no longer remember things such as her fake birthday or that Waipo is supposed to be her mother. A younger Lui Ling is also a great example of this. She says that she makes oracle bones for Kai Jing's grave because she is "afraid of forgetting."(305). Memory and forgetfulness follow Lui Ling wherever she goes.
I definetly agree with Jennie's statement that as Lui Ling grows older, she "mixes up events and people to do with her past and the present"
I thought her example of how Lui Ling translated Mandarin into English for Mr.Tang was a perfect example of this.

Daniel G said...

I agree with Alice that it definitely seems as if LuLing forgets to cover up some things as she gets older. As far as we could tell, she didn't intend on telling anyone, except probably Ruth, that her real mother was Precious Auntie. But, because her memory was fading, she forgot all about this and blurted it out at their family reunion.

However, there were things that she could not remember when her memory was still pretty good. Many of these she probably never did remember, but towards the end of the book, it is clear that her memory loss of some obvious short term things is lacking, but she suddenly remembers some bigger things that she could not before.

For virtually the entire book, LuLing wanted to remember her mother's name, other than her "nicknames" of Precious Auntie and Bao Bomu. Then, with the book coming to a close, it just came to her: "'Family name Gu.' She was looking sternly at Ruth. 'I tell you so many time, you don't remember? (394)'" It seems as if LuLing forgot that she ever had trouble remembering the name, and when she wasn't searching for it, it kind of just came to her, because it was really in there all along. All she had to do was forget that she ever forgot it in the first place.

This same type of remembrance keeps happening when she is around Mr. Tang. He mentions something from her childhood, that she had not talked about, and probably hadn't remembered, in years, and suddenly it is clear to her what happened that long time ago. On page 352, Mr. Tang has a conversation with LuLing as if he were a good old friend, and he gets LuLing to start talking about her past in a way that she hadn't even thought to do at all before in the book. LuLing liked talking about these things so much that she asked Mr. Tang to come back the next day, and the memories kept coming from there.

It was clear for basically the whole book that LuLing's memory was not only getting bad, but getting worse all the time. But LuLing this memory loss evetually lead to the re-telling of somememories that had actually stuck, and soon Ruth was being given lots of information that she thought LuLing hadn't had since she was still back in China.

Kelsey said...

Like Michaela said, the reason why Ruth begins to search for the answers to LuLing's past is because of LuLing's memory loss. If LuLing were able to remember everything from her past, Ruth would have no reason to go out and try to find all of the answers.

As others have said, LuLing starts to stir up some questions at the doctor's office when she starts to talk about her past, and when she was really born. The best example of this is when the doctor asks her how old she is and what year she was born in, and she replies; "'Let's see, what year were you born?'... 'Truth is 1916' she said" (69)

I think that before LuLing was showing signs that she was losing her memory, Ruth didn't care very much about her past, or her family history. I find that sometimes the things that are so natural and simple (like LuLing's memory about her past) are usually the things we take for granted, and don't really care about until we start to notice that they are gone. Because Ruth sees that her mother's memory is slowly getting worse, she realizes that it is important to figure it out before it is too late.

The classic example of this is at the Full Moon Festival dinner when LuLing pulls out the picture of Precious Auntie and says that she is her mother: "'There.' she said in Chinese. 'This one right here, she's my mother.'" (102) and continues on page 103, "'No, this really my mother.' LuLing insisted. ' That one GaoLing mother'". This brings up many questions for Ruth, which she later asks around and searches to find the answers to.

Tan explores the transcience of memory in a couple of ways throughout this book. She makes clear that there are many awful memories in the book, about LuLing, and her regrets about Precious Auntie's death. This might tie into the reason as to why LuLing's memory is slowly fading, because she wants to block it out, in a sense. Also, as Michaela said, when LuLing makes oracle bones to put on top of Kai Jing's grave, this brings back the transcience of memory, because she is afraid to forget.

I agree with what Jennie said about LuLing being able to remember things that she couldn't before. I'm not really sure why this would happen, but maybe being reminded of her past over and over again not that Ruth and Mr. Tang are talking about it, helps to spur her memory and bring back things that she had forgotten earlier.

Jeff said...

I think that as LuLing loses her memory, she becomes more susceptible to the pranks pulled by Ruth. She forgets things, and Ruth uses this to her advantage. It is not clear, but that is what I'm inferring. Tan uses this loss memory as an opening for Ruth. Ruth has always been in the shadow of her mother. Her mother always knew where she was, what she was doing, and what she was thinking. Now that LuLing is becoming senile, Ruth can get information out of her mother that she wasn't able to do before. For example, she reads her mother's diaries about her life.

I also think that it is interesting that LuLing can remember certain things. It is possible that she is able to block out what she wants to but can keep what she wants in her memory. What she writes about is all bad, and there is nothing positive about her memories. All it does is give a little more information to Ruth about her heritage.

I think that as Luling loses her mind, Ruth appreciates her more. It is a combination of the diaries and the fact that Ruth realizes that she is her mother, and that the relationship between a daughter and he mother should be one full of love. Also, because Luling didn't really have a good relationship with her mother, both Precious Aunite and Gaoling's mother. Luling "stared at he as if she no longer recognized her" (pg. 236). She doesn't even know her own mother. I believe that this is how Ruth feels now that her mother is not the same as she used to be. She is feeling as if she is becoming detached from her mother. This is why this book is about the relationship between a mother and her daughter. Both with Ruth and LuLing and Precious Auntie and Luling. Also, they both lost their fathers so all they had was eachother.

Hayley said...

Luling's memory loss is both a trouble and an opening for Ruth. While it means that her mother cause's trouble, it also means that she can uncover the true story of her mother's past. After all, if LuLing had never got dementia, Ruth never would've been cleaning her house and found the papers. Also, as Luling's dementia grows, she begins to say things that Ruth hasn't been thinking about. She talks about how her mother isn't the one in the picture, and how Gaoling isn't her sister. She tells stories about things that Ruth doesn't know if they happened or not, so Ruth starts to realize how little she actually knows about her mother's past.
I think the author looks at Luling's dementia and forgetfulness in a sad, second youth sort of way. At first, she was really annoying, but she seemed to get calmer, until finally she's pretty placid about everything. She still complains and edits her memories, but she's a lot happier. She even remembers her family name. So, while at first the author makes the forgetting painful and annoying, she decides in the end to make it cleansing and wondrous.

Lauren Hoh said...

I think Luling's history becomes more clear to Ruth when she loses her memory because she forgets about all the consequences of telling the truth and she wrote all those pages so that she wouldn't forget, and I think after she wrote it, it felt good to let it out and she wanted Ruth to know about it. Also, because of the dementia, Luling's mind slips and uncovers a little hint here and there to Ruth and other people about what her true background is. I also don't think she is as ashamed anymore about Precious Auntie. "My mother found one of these. It was carved with words of beauty. She gave it to me when she was sure I would not forget what was important. I never wanted to lose it." (p.393) When Mr. Tang takes Ruth, Art, and Luling to the museum and shows them the oracle bone, Luling is proud of her mother and I think she really shows that when she tells Art that her mother found an oracle bone.

Tan explores the state of memory quite well through the book and Luling. What I think she is trying to get across is that memory loss is very sad because you start to forget about pieces of your past life, but what is remembered the longest are very important people and parts of events. LuLing is a very strong woman, but she is still scared to forget, like Kelsey said.

Ella Kaplan said...

As most people have said, Since LuLing's memory is deteriorating, she mixes up the life that happened, and the lies that she promised her self she would tell. After Ruth reads LuLing's story, she sees the true life that she lived and she understands LuLing. An example of when LuLing starts telling the truth that Ruth doesn't know about is when LuLing visits the doctor on page 69 when she says that she was born in 1916, and Ruth thinks that she is giving false information and she actually may be losing her memory when she actually was telling the truth.

I think that Tan uses dementia to have LuLing mix up events and through memory loss to make Ruth and the reader to understand LuLing's mix ups, she gives us LuLing's actual story. I think that it makes Ruth stronger now that she knows and wants a better relationship with her mother.

Sonya said...

As LuLing's memory gets worse, as Alice said, she begins to forget her cover-ups and talks about what actually happened. She begins to say things that are true, but that Ruth thinks are false, and that is one of the reasons that Ruth tries to find out more about what is actually true about her mother, as it isn't clear any longer.

For instance, at the full moon festival, LuLing for the first time mentions that she and Gao Ling are not actually sisters. "That not my real mother...Gao Ling not my sister" (102). She also mentions that it is actually Precious Auntie who is her mother. At first, Ruth thinks her mother must just be forgetful, but then she wonders if maybe her mother is just finally telling the truth.

At the doctor's office, LuLing says that she is eighty-two, and born in 1916, rather than 1921 which is what Ruth thought was right (69). What Ruth doesn't know, but eventually finds out is that both LuLing and Gao Ling made themselves five years younger when they came to America.

Through these little slips of LuLing's memory in which she tells the truth that she's been hiding, Ruth begins to wonder if maybe her mother might be right in what she's saying. It makes her curious to find out the truth, which prompts her to have her mother's papers translated so she can find out.

I agree with Alice and Jennie that Tan explores the briefness of memory throughout the book. She shows that memory is fragile and can be fleeting (for instance, when LuLing begins to have memories of specific names again on page 394). She also shows that with time people lose their memory, so it is good to have ways to keep it alive, whether by writing it down, telling it to others, or having keepsakes. People can want to keep their memories, but sometimes, they block them out and change them on purpose. Gao Ling actually thinks that she is five years younger, "but now you remind me i'm even older. How old?" (374), which is an example of her changing her memory on purpose.

Leah said...

As LuLing loses her memory, as Alice said, she forgets to keep her secrets. She forgets to censor her thoughts - that's what happened when she told Dr. Huey she was born in 1916 instead of 1921, in a Dragon year instead of a Rooster year (71), and also at the Full Moon Festival, when LuLing tells them that GaoLing is not really her sister (102). She has finally stopped hiding her past. It is only as LuLing's mind begins to unwind that Ruth finally understands her mother.

I completely agree with Daniel about LuLing remembering her mother's name (this happened on page 394). As he writes, "All she had to do was forget that she ever forgot it in the first place." Her memory was there all along, but her own struggle and desperation blinded her. This is a perfect example of the transience and quirks of the human memory.

Katie Callahan said...

I agree with Michaela about how Ruth would not have been interested or started to wonder about her mother’s past if LuLing had not started to lose her memory. When LuLing started losing her memory, Ruth started to wonder what the truth was. This is why she decided to finally read through and have the pages her mother gave to her translated. When Ruth read through the manuscript her mother had written many years before, many things became clear to her. She understood that her mother was not completely crazy at the Blue Moon festival when she said that Precious Auntie was her true mother (103). Ruth is able to understand the thoughts behind her mother’s odd behavior and why she did the things she did. LuLing losing her memory is bringing Ruth and LuLing closer. I don’t think that Ruth would have read the papers her mother gave to her. I do not think that LuLing would have told Ruth her story herself, or if Ruth would have had time to listen. Although LuLing’s situation is not one you would want, it does have a silver lining.

Emily Lohr said...

As LuLing loses her memory, Ruth wants to find out more and more about her. So she goes through the trouble of hiring a translator to translate the pages LuLing wrote. We don't really know what how she got the translator because part three just jumps right in. It takes Mr. Tang two months do complete the translation. Ruth is willing to wait for the whole thing to be translated because she wants to read it all in one piece (342).

Tan explores the transience of memory through LuLing. On pages 105 and 106, LuLing holds up a necklace that Ruth gave her as a gift, but does not remember that Ruth was the one who gave it to her. I also agree with Michaela that Ruth would not have been as interested in learning about her mother's past had she not started to lose her memory.

Kiana said...

I agree with Alice. I think that as LuLing loses her memory, she forgets to keep her secrets. GaoLing tells Ruth that LuLing still wanted to keep her secrets even when they came to America. GaoLing “always wanted to be honest, but your mommy [LuLing] was afraid of so many things.” (374) LuLing told GaoLing, “No, don’t tell, promise.” (374) LuLing forgets to cover these secrets up as she loses her memory. At the Full Moon Festival dinner, LuLing tells everyone at the table that GaoLing is not her sister and Precious Auntie is her mother. (102) Ruth is concerned that LuLing’s memory is worse than she had originally thought, unaware LuLing was telling the truth.
LuLing mixes up events and is confused in the present, like the day Ruth went to pick LuLing up for her doctor’s appointment and LuLing told her she was late when she wasn’t. Despite her present confusion, LuLing still remembers her past. When she is at the museum LuLing says, “Family name Gu. I tell you so many time, you don’t remember? Her Father Dr. Gu. She Gu doctor daughter.” (394) This shows LuLing remembers her past but is confused about the present because she still remembers her family name but she thinks she has already told Ruth and she hasn’t.
Tan explores the transience of memory in the book with LuLing’s story. She gives us the story in pieces as Ruth discovers them. Ruth is missing many pieces of LuLing’s story and it causes her to misunderstand her mother. I agree with others who have said Ruth becomes more interested in her mother’s story when she starts to lose her memory. Ruth wants to know which part of what her mother says is real and what she makes up. I also agree with the people who said that some of LuLing’s memory is changed by what she wants to remember and what she wants to forget.

Brendon said...

As LuLing loses her memories, she shows Ruth that she has a weakness. This causes Ruth to work harder for her mothers sake, which in turn, allows her to discover the truths of LuLings life.
Ruth finds these facts through the Biography written by LuLing, translated by Mr. Tang, and also, through individual research and questioning. After reading the Packet of her mothers life, Ruth searches for the name of Precious Auntie. She first asks GauLing, "'What was Precious Aunties real name?'" She is trying to find the name of her grandmother, not only for her, but for her mother as well. It is causing her pain not to remember the one thing Precious Auntie told her never to forget. To help Ruth in her research, GaoLing sends a letter to her relative in China, who does some research. She then gets a letter which has the true name of Precious Auntie. GaoLing tells Ruth, who begins to cry. Ruth just discovered the name of her grandmother. "Ruth began to cry ... etching itself indelibly in Ruths mind." (pg 399-400)
So, as LuLing loses her memory, Ruth must attempt honest work at discovering her mothers past, which shows to her the story behind her mothers life.

Danny G hit the nail on the head with his point about LuLings memory. When LuLing begins to remember the name of Precious Auntie at the Museum, the reader can see that, maybe LuLing just needed to "forget that she forgot the name". This is showing how Tan demonstrates the transience of human memory in the bonesetters daughter.

lynda said...

As LuLing's memory loss progresses, Ruth's involvement in her mother's life improves, thus leading to the discovery of her mother's past life. For example is when LuLing pulls out a photograph of Precious Auntie at the moon festival and shows it off to everyone, telling them that that is her mother(102). Later on, on page 168 Ruth discovers when digging around in her mother's stuff; the same photograph and a script accompanying it. This is the script that makes the WHOLE story clear to Ruth because it is the story of LuLing's life entirely.
Tan explores transience in part two of the book by jumping around a lot?

I agree with Emily in saying that as Luling's memory decreased Ruth wanted to learn more about her. I also agree that it does sorta jump around

Sarah McAndrew said...

Ruth begins to discover her mothers past because Luling without realizing it has been let slip things that she has kept secert her entire life. This is because of the memory loss of course, but it's what makes the book be able to progress. Without these spur of the moment relapses in Luling's memory, we wouldn't have a reason to keep reading.Ruth wants to find out more about what her mother says, and At first she's skeptical of what Luling says, but that's probably because of the severity of what it would mean if Luling was actually telling the truth. So Ruth digs deeper into her mothers past learning all of these secerets Luling has kept from Ruth all of her life. For instance, in this quote Ruth thinks her mother is mistaken, but later we really find out..SHE WAS TELLING THE TRUTH!!!! "There.she said in Chinese.'This one right here, she's my mother." Thanks to Lulings memory loss there is a purpose for the book. Otherwise there would have been no reason for Ruth to read the diary but because she was concerned for her mother and because she was a little curious she did.

Sam said...

By sequence of events, Ruth learns more about LuLing's story when her memory starts to disappear. LuLing's memory loss leads to Ruth cleaning out her house and finding the documents of LuLing's past. More importantly though, as LuLing loses her memory, her story becomes more clear to herself, and so she is able to make it more clear for Ruth. As Dan said, LuLing thoughts about her past seem to reorganize themselves and become extremely clear. Often the case with memory loss diseases, the host will very clearly remember their childhood. LuLing can remember many things from when she was a kid really clearly. She "hesitate[s] only a moment before answering: 'Family name Gu'" (394).

Tan keeps memory in flux through the story. She wants to reader to be confused, and she wants to ideas to not all fit perfectly together until later on. By setting up lies, or "fake truths," she can often tell the reader something new and from then on that will be the new truth. LuLing's memory is always changing, and what Ruth knows about LuLing is always changing. These two similarities clash like at the Full Moon Festival when LuLing claims Precious Auntie is her real mother. Not only did LuLing's memory fail to remember to keep that secret, but the truth suddenly changed to Ruth and she is suddenly not sure which fact to believe or remember.

Mallory said...

Well to begin with Ruth finds LuLing's written story when she's cleaning out her mother's house. She's cleaning the house because her mother is not able to do so herself anymore so Ruth is able to stumble upon the story. When LuLing loses her memory, more and more little aspects of her real life pop up and she doesn't censor herself any longer. Ruth learns small facts about her mother's life through her mother speaking out. Tan explores memory loss through LuLing and Ruth's relationship. The memory loss makes Ruth realize she takes her mother for granted and doesn't pay enough attention. The relationship between Ruth and LuLing strengthens because Ruth begins to try harder. She asks her mother more questions to try and help her remember and is more patient with her mother's responses. At dinner with Art and the girls Ruth defends her mother and trys to help the girls understand what is happening. Her attempts do not work and the dinner does not work out well. The point is Ruth is trying.

Robin Smith said...

As Luling starts to lose her memory she has problems telling the present from what happened to her many years ago. She occasionaly says things that sound quite crazy, but are infact true and just from very long ago, for example when Luling and Ruth are at the hospital and her mother is getting examinded the doctor asks her how old she is:

"Lets see, what year were you born?" He scanned the chart, then looked up at Luling, "Can you tell me?""Year?" Luling's eyes darted upward as if the answer were on the ceiling."This not so easy say.""I want the truth, now," the doctor joked, "Not what you tell your friends.""Truth is 1916," Luling said. Ruth interrupted. "What she means is--" and she was about to say 1921."(69)

Although when Luling says this everyone thinks that she is losing her memory, she is actually telling the truth, it is just for so long she has lived a lie. Another thing that happens like this is during the full moon festival, Luling says that Gaoling is not her sister, but instead her sister in law, everyone thinks that she is making a clever joke, but she is actually telling the truth, because Luling's mother was to be married to the brother of Gaoling's father. Slip ups like this in Lulings memory are what cause Ruth to read the manuscripts, in search for the answers to some of the questions that Lulings oddities bring up.

I agree with Daniel that Luling probably never meant to share these things, with anyone besides Ruth, and had it not been for these slips in memory Ruth might never have discovered many of the secrets of Luling's past.

Chris W said...

Well, I don't have much to say that hasn't already been said....page 101-102...Sally says "'Hey Auntie Lu...you look kinda bummed out in this picture". LuLing's response is "This because my mother just die" and then says that GaoLing and LuLing's mother died in 1972 so she obviously doesn't know. Then LuLing says "That not my real mother" and Ruth gets all confused and stuff. So at first she doesn't know. Then we, the readers, are given details about LuLing's childhood and how Precious Auntie is in fact the mother and whatnot...so by losing her memory, Ruth questions what she initially believes is true, and eventually she finds the the papers on 168 and begins to find out about the truth and stuff...

Tan uses memory in a very realistic way I guess. I mean, maybe it's not common, but from my experience, people with dementia or Alzheimer's
disease (redundant I guess, but whatever...) seem to forget or fail to realize what is going on around them, but have very good memories of their youth. So it seems natural to me that LuLing would remember all this stuff but still show confusion, like on page 118 when Ruth finds LuLing wandering around...so I'm not sure LuLing's transient memory plays that big of a role in the novel...

Alex Krass said...

Most people have said what I belive to be true as well. As LuLings memorie starts to fade she forgets to block the past out of her mind and lets little things slip. When they are at the muesum she remembers her mothers name possiblie being Gu. Before she did not want to remember this because it brought back so many horrible memories. But as her mind slips away she forgets to block these thought out of her mind and says that to the people close to her liek Mr. Tang and Ruth.

She also starts telling the without realizing it. When they were at the family dinner she lets go that in the picture that is not her real mom and she looked sad because her real mom just died. Ruth does not realize at the time that this is true but as LuLings memorie keeps fading and she lets go more and more information Ruth realizes everything she has been saying is true and not just a memorie fluke.

I agree with the example Robin gave of when they were in the Hospital. It is another clear showing of LuLing sounding a bit crazy but in fact she is telling the truth and what her past was like. LuLings memorie lost plays a big part in Ruth figuring out what the truth is about LuLing and her past.

tylertorh said...

I agree with chris in the fact thattt Tan uses memory in a very realistic way because it is often true that some people who dont even know what happened the day before can remember their childhood clearly and complete accuracyy. like the fact that she is able to keep a diary that is so accurate and complete after so much tragedy has happened. ACTUALLY i feel that since LuLIng has had such an amazing childhood it would make it very easy to remember. For example I dont remember anything
because i wasnt the offspring of a mute mutilated maid.

I also find that Tan is able to really show how memory works. NOt works but she is able to really show memory in her book. like the fact that somewhere in LuLings mind she knows that her mothers name is GU When Ruth asks her mother what her nursemaid is in the end of the book, "her mother hesitated only a moment before answering Gu"(394)
luling isnt even suprised that she knows this information. Tan uses the LuLings dementia as a literary device to help probe into the deep locked mind of LuLing. another Device that tan uses Lulings diary.

Burton said...

As Luling starts to loose her memory we see Ruth begin to care for Luling more and more, and for longer. The start of Ruth's discovery of Lulings true past began on page 69 when they went to visit the doctor about Lulings memory problem. Their the doctor asks about Lulings age and she replies saying "Truth is 1916 she said". There she admits that she has been lying about her age all along, but Ruth doesn't pick it up, just putting it off as another symptom of her memory loss.

What i think this book says about memories is that you can't take them for granted. If you block them out you will forget and loose the memory for a while, or even a life time. Luling is a prime example of this, as she looses her memory the ones she thought about daily stuck with her as her old memories of things she wish she could forget slipped away.

I agree with Alex that as she ages her guard begins to drop, allowing past memories that use to be to terrible to talk about to slip into normal conversations. Alex also uses a perfect example of this when he sites the time where they go to the museum and she reveals the name of her true mother.

Bryce said...

As LuLing loses her memory, the relationship between Ruth and LuLing becomes much stronger. After finding and reading about LuLing's past, Ruth now understands why her mother is the way she is. As a child, Ruth never understood her mother such as the times she would threaten Ruth with killing herself and the worries about Precious Aunties ghost. After Ruth found out about her mother's past, it really changed her outlook of her mother. Another reason why LuLing's stroy become more clear to Ruth is because her mother says things that she meant to keep as a secret. "Family name Gu." (394). LuLing remember's what her family name was. This helps Ruth in understanding her past. Another example of LuLing's shared secrets is at the Full Moon Festival. "GaoLing NOT my sister!" (102). This is some foreshadowing in the book, but it is also a sort of alarm to Ruth. Later she understands that GaoLing is her step-sister.

I agree with Kelsey that about the doctor's office and how it plays a big role in the book. If Ruth didn't go with LuLing she wouldn't know that LuLing told the year she was actually born in. Also if they had not gone to the doctor then would they even know LuLing had demensha?

The book ends with the feeling of memory. Ruth will always remember her mother and her mother's past. You believe that now all these secrets have been found that they will stay around and be passed down through generations. Also LuLing will always remember Precious Auntie even if she has demesha. There are some things people don't forget and LuLing's mother is an example of that.

christopher.harwick said...

Luling starts to lose her memory far before the book took place, they just didn't know it yet. But as Luling gets older and starts to lose her memory she starts to clear some of her past up. At the very end of the book The Bonesetters Daughter she remembers what she forgot. That is the name of her grandmother Precious Auntie. Gu Ruth didn't believe her, because of the complication of the Chinese language. Racheal F examplianed this to us earlier. You can write one word but is the prunucation that effects the meaning. But in the begining of the book the visit to the doctors office she clearly as problems remembering things. So I believe that memory is a very important theme in the book which we just found out now.

Nathaniel brown said...

I think Lu Ling's loss of memory and Ruth's renewed interest in her mother's past helps mend their relationship, and in a way Ruth and Art's relationship. As a child and an adolescent Ruth did not appreciate Lu Ling's heritage and past troubles. This was predominantly because she knew nothing about her mother's past. Ruth heard Lu Ling talk about precious Auntie, but had no idea who that was. As Lu Ling loses her memory she starts to reconcile with her past. She becomes in some ways easier to deal with. Ruth also has more patience for her because she knows what has troubled Lu Ling for so long. In this way they both come to terms with each-other. By fixing her relationship with Lu Ling, Ruth also feels like she deserves to be happy, to have her own voice. This, in turn, helps her create a more healthy relationship with Art.

mason vogt said...

I think that LuLing's loss of memory effects the life of Ruth, because Luling starts letting things slip from her mouth that there is normally a filter on. LuLing has been keeping many secrets from her daughter all her life, and one of them is the fact that Precious Auntie was LuLing's real mother. "No, this really my mother" (103).
When LuLing has a loss of memory, she also acts like she would have many years before in her life. This gives Ruth a strong sense of what her mother used to be like when she was still in china, and was living life like many others around her.

Meghan Licciardi said...

Luling's memory loss is one of the only reasons that Ruth is able to get over some of her bitter feelings for her mother. Because Luling starts spilling her secrets. Luling's initial proclamation that Precious Auntie was her mother, gets Ruth interested in her mothers past. And by digging, and reading her mothers journal she begins to learn what Luling went through as a child, and that there was a lot more that went into making Luing the person that she is, then Ruth thought. This causes Ruth to be more patient with her mother, and slowly the repair there relationship.

Megan Pattison said...

Throughout the book, LuLing's memory has fluctuated. Ironically, as LuLing's memory seems to fade, the story of her past becomes more clear to Ruth. When Ruth takes LuLing to the doctor, all of Ruth's fears of LuLing's dementia seemed to be confirmed. On page 69, Ruth and LuLing are at the hospital and the doctor has just asked in what year LuLing was born. She answers, "Truth is 1916." Ruth thinks she's wrong because ever since LuLing came to America, she said she was born in 1921. RUth doesn't find out that LuLing was accurate until she reads her memoirs. When Ruth finds out her mother had been right she feels relieved, saddened, and a little guilty for doubting LuLing so strongly.
As LuLing loses her memory, she becomes more loose on telling the truth, but the truth is what seems to be false and this is what makes Ruth so nervous. Ruth has to learn about LuLing's past in order to realize that LuLing is telling the truth and what she's been saying is what's wrong. I agree with Mason that LuLing takes on the persona of her old self as she loses her memory. It's like she's letting her guard down.

Erin Donohue said...

I also agree with Megan when she pointed out how LuLing's life story has become much more clear to Ruth as LuLing's memory begins to fade. I think that Tan uses memory in her book to show a change in characters, and we see this in Ruth's character especially when she is finally exposed to her mothers life story.

Whether or not LuLing was confirmed with dementia (I'm still unclear with this...), I think that the reason why LuLing is able to be up front about her past now is because she knows that she has written down her life story, therefore she knows that one day Ruth will appreciate the things that she saw and experienced in her lifetime. Ruth had only seen a certain side of her mother, perhaps one that was much more strict and unforgiving while growing up, but now that she learns of her mothers past she is able to sympathize and see that maybe it is ok that her mom has not learned to trust people as much as she once did, and maybe it is ok that she hoards away her money in odd places because she once had none. I think that Ruth began to challenge LuLing's honesty much less once she realized (as many have written...!) that she was in fact was not lying about her age to the doctor - at her age she should have nothing to lie about from her past and maybe this is what LuLing is beginning to realize.

Tan uses LuLing's dementia/memory loss to link together the sequence of events that leave the reader possibly confused and unclear about the truth. Little details that seem insignificant when we read them (such as LuLing's "1916" birthdate (from page 69), are the facts that mend the story together once we see each characters view/story on these situations.