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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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CONFLICT

Protagonist

Jiang Weili (Winnie Louie) is the protagonist in the novel, The Kitchen God’s Wife.’ Her life is characterized by ups and down and the way she survives all this serves as a moral for her daughter, Pearl. From the age of six Weili feels the pangs of separation, when her beloved mother leaves her. Weili is sent to live with in her uncle’s house in Tsungming Island. The way Weili is treated is very different from the treatment meted out to her cousin, Peanut. Though both are of almost the same age, Weili’s aunts are partial to Peanut. Weili had considered marriage to be a better option than staying in Tsungming Island. But marriage to an arrogant man like Wen Fu proves to be absolutely disastrous. Her remarriage to Jimmy Louie does not solve her problems either. Wen Fu’s dark shadow lurks behind her. The character of Weili is that of a strong-willed woman. From an innocent teenager, the circumstances force her to become a bold woman. Weili’s life is a motivating example to millions of women who are harassed by their husbands as it exhorts them to rise and fight against atrocities and be optimistic.

Antagonist:

The antagonist in the novel is Wen Fu, the first husband of Weili. He is the prime culprit, the man responsible for the miseries in Weili’s life. Wen Fu is an opportunist. In the initial days of marriage, he pretends to be gentle to Weili but within a few days he shows his true colors. The position he accords to his wife is no better than a prostitute. Weili considers him to be the devil himself. Every night Wen Fu subjects Weili to utter humiliation. Wen Fu is extremely violent to her. He rapes her and then compels and tortures her to make her say that she is sex-starved and needs him badly. In spite of all this, initially Weili tries to be a good wife to him. But when he continues to humiliate and degrade her and is also responsible for the deaths of her children, she decides to leave him. Even after she leaves him, Wen Fu does not allow her to get some peace of mind. He tries his best to wreck her second marriage and regain her. Weili believes that to some extent, fate also seems to be responsible for the adversities in her life.


Climax

The ray of hope for Weili amidst all her troubles is Jimmy Louie. But the real climax of the novel occurs in Chapter 24, when Wen Fu makes his last attempt to destroy Weili completely and take away all bright hopes from her heart. Weili had made all preparations to go to the US the next day. Wen Fu barges into Weili’s house and loudly accuses her of being disloyal to him. Wen Fu tears the divorce papers, which Weili had tricked him to sign. Then at gunpoint, he rapes her. When the furious Weili grabs the gun and is ready to kill him, the frightened Wen Fu runs away to save his life. If he had not fled, Weili would have killed him. This act of bravery enables Weili to be united with Jimmy Louie in the US.

Outcome

The last portion of the novel shows Winnie and her daughter Pearl lighting incense sticks. When the smoke rises, their hopes also soar higher. Despite all the sufferings that Winnie faces in her life, she is optimistic in the end. This optimism is a sure sign of progress in her life. Such a happy ending is possible only because of Weili’s deeds of courage and fearlessness. The love of Jimmy Louie and the friendship of Helen have been major sources of support in her life. Without Jimmy, Helen and also the elderly Auntie Du, Weili could never have managed to overcome the calamities of her life. The outcome is pleasant with fair chances of a sorrowfree future.

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