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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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Chapters 6, 7 & 8

Summary

The void in Weili’s heart due to the loss of her mother cannot be filled up with anything else. Winnie stops her narration to tell her daughter that at least she has a mother to love her and take care of her whereas she, on the other hand, had been deprived of her mother and had no one to look up to.

Winnie then continues to relate her stay at the uncle’s house on Tsungming Island. The village at the mouth of the River is different in every way from the prosperous city of Shanghai, where Weili used to stay with her parents. She is ill -treated by both her aunts and even her uncle is partial towards his own daughter, who everybody lovingly calls, ‘Peanut.’ Every little whim of her cousins is satisfied, whereas Weili is forever left wanting and begging. The Aunt makes it very clear to her, from the very beginning, that she is a liability. She is the one who has to do all the odd jobs. She recalls an incident when she had to embarrass her aunt in front of guests so that her aunt would buy her a new pair of shoes. Therefore, her position in the house is even lower, than an outsider. She is constantly reminded that she should forever be indebted to their family that she is not being thrown out of the house.


The Chinese New Year is a joyful occasion for everybody in the house, especially Weili. As per custom, Weili is allowed to go out on a shopping spree with Peanut and her other two cousins. Peanut wears gaudy clothes and heavy make-up, which Weili feels, is almost like a mask, of white coating of face powder and bright lipstick. Weili is well groomed and is careful not to overdo it, as she knows that over make-up does not make one beautiful. The scene at the market place is festive. People have gathered in their flamboyant dresses. Stalls for eatables, ornaments and various other articles have been put up. Peanut spends her money on a fortuneteller who promises her that her husband would be wealthy and that she would lead a good family life. But Peanut does not allow Weili to hear what the fortuneteller predicts for her. She manages to hear that her future life is not so bright, but is not allowed to spend money to bribe the fortuneteller as Peanut had done to make her fortune better. Among the crowd, one person tries to be too friendly with them and the reader learns that he is Wen Fu. He is not really handsome but is undoubtedly elegantly dressed. Wen Fu is one of the prominent actors who perform street plays during the festive season. He plays the role of the dragon and his comical action make Weili’s little cousins, Little Gao and Little Gong, very happy. He also manages to impress Peanut and Weili. Weili feels that he is being partial to Peanut and this makes her jealous. At the same time, she also doubts his manners. The meeting of Peanut and Wen Fu at the market place, is only the beginning of a series of encounters. Peanut is absolutely carried away with his charms. His looks and clever ways also entice her. Weili is reduced to being a mere carrier of love letters, that is, a bridge between Wen Fu and Peanut.

Somehow fate has something else in store for Peanut and Weili. The intrusion of Auntie Miao, a matchmaker, leads to the fixing up of the marriage between Weili and Wen Fu. For Weili, all these changes come as a pleasant surprise. She starts building castles in the air, of having her own home, the much-needed refuge from her present life as a dependent. She promises to herself that she will prove to be a loving wife to her husband and a dutiful daughter-in-law to her in-laws. Peanut had chosen Wen Fu as her husband. Now that the tables are turned, Peanut is totally enraged and leaves no occasion to express it. She feels that Weili has cheated her and openly ill-treats her.

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