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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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PLOT (SYNOPSIS)

The novel, The Kitchen Godís Wife is a true-life story told by a mother (Winnie) to her daughter (Pearl). She relates the incidents that had occurred in her life when she was in China. The story involves two families - the Kwongs and the Louies. Both the families have now settled in America. Winnie and her family are the Louies whereas Helen, her friend, is a member of the Kwong family. After settling in San Francisco, Helen and Winnie jointly own a flower shop.

Two significant occasions - celebration and mourning - requires the presence of both the families. Roger Kwongís (Bao-Bao) engagement calls for a celebration while Auntie Duís death is the reason for mourning. As per Auntie Duís will, Pearl gets a beautiful table alter in which the statue of the Kitchen God is prominent.

The mother, Winnie and the daughter, Pearl has hidden from each other certain facts of their own lives. Helen knows both their secrets and she threatens them that she would disclose everything if they did not tell each other the truth. Winnie is compelled to tell to her daughter about her past, which she had kept hidden from her for so long.


Winnie is born in a prosperous family and her father; Jiang Sao- yen is a businessman. At the tender age of six, her mother leaves disappears forever from her life. As Weili loves her mother very much, she continues to wait for her. She is brought up in Tsungming Island where she is neglected by her uncle and aunts. Her marriage to a pilot, Wen Fu is disastrous. Winnie patiently tolerates his abuses and violence for the sake of her child. But when he is responsible for the death of her children, she can never forgive him. Meanwhile, China is under deep trouble as the Japanese have invaded it. Winnie faces the critical Ďtaonaní period and the various hectic escapades along with Helen, a co- pilotís wife and other pilots. A chance meeting with Jimmy Louie, arouses the desire for a better future in Winnieís mind. After strict opposition from Wen Fu, Winnie manages to stay with Jimmy for some time. Wen Fu manipulates the police and sees to it that Winnie lands in prison. Even after her release from jail, Wen Fu sexually traumatizes Winnie. Finally, Winnieís bravery leads to the reunion between her and Jimmy. Winnie helps her friend, Helen to come to America along with her family. Winnie is grateful to Helenís aunt, Auntie Du, who had helped Winnie when she needed her most. Weili now is an old widow with children and grandchildren. Helen informs her about Wen Fuís death.

Hearing her motherís story, Pearl is shocked to know that maybe her father is the arrogant Wen fu. Encouraged by her motherís frankness, Pearl too reveals that she is suffering from multiple sclerosis. Winnie attributes her illness to be Wen Fuís fault. Winnie insists that there is a cure for multiple sclerosis. Helen, Winnie and Pearl plan to go to China for Chinese herbs to treat Pearlís illness.

To ward all misfortunes and to bring good luck and happiness, Winnie replaces the Kitchen Godís statue with a beautiful porcelain statue of ĎLady Sorrowfree.í Together, mother and daughter light the incense sticks, hopeful of a brighter future.

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