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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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Chapter 11

Summary

The wives of the pilots anxiously wait to hear the news of their husbandsí safety and the news of Chinese victory over the Japanese. The truth however is totally depressing. Many of the pilots have already been killed by Japanese bombardment and their young wives have been widowed. The Chinese strategy, of combat with the armed Japanese force, has proven to be futile. Jiaguo and his subordinate pilots, lack both training as well as fighter plane machinery. The wives of the remaining pilots are now scared, as they realize that it is merely a question of chance as to which pilot would be the next to die. The chances of their survival and Chinese victory over the enemy now seem quite grim. The two friends, Weili and Hulan, react differently to the tragic news. Weili rationally thinks that at such a period of crisis, they all need to remain united and sympathize with those who have lost their near and dear ones. But Hulan totally disagrees. She is too selfish and cares little for the loss of others. For her, it is more pertinent to safeguard their own lives. The wives of the other pilots support the rationality behind Weiliís opinion.

In the same year, 1937, Chinese high command issues orders that, the pilots are to be posted in Yangchow. Here, the living conditions are much worse than the monastery in Hangchow. But they help each other to make it into a place worth living. Weili takes the initiative to host an elaborate feast for all the pilots who have survived. Such feasts during wartime are quite expensive, but Weili is generous and willingly shells out money from her dowry. Though her husband earns seventy dollars a month, nothing from it is utilized for their livelihood. All the money is lavishly spent in gambling and drinking. Her dowry of four thousand yuan comes to her rescue for running the household. She generously uses this money to organize elaborate feasts for the survivors. The co-pilots have a great time relishing, rather gorging, on the delicacies prepared by Weili and Hulan. Weili observes that Hulan is skilled when it comes to preparing the dishes. But then, she can only assist Weili in the preparations. Weili knows only too well that the entire cooking just cannot be entrusted upon Hulan.


Among the co-pilots, Weili finds herself developing a special kind of relationship with a shy pilot, Gan. Gan is a bachelor who truly appreciates Weili as a person of worth. He is superstitious and relates to Weili, his fears about premature death. For the first time in her life, Weili experiences some deep feelings for somebody. One however does not see their relationship blossoming into something else. This could be mainly because Weili is too scared to acknowledge her feelings. Even when she does, she takes pains to keep her emotions in check.

Day by Day the number of pilots who return dwindles. Through Hulan, Weili comes to know that Jiaguo is unhappy with Wen Fuís role as a pilot. In fact, Jiaguo has said that he would be compelled to court-marshal Wen Fu, if he continues to elude the dangers of war. As the war intensifies more and more pilots fall prey to the Japanese bombs. One day Weili is informed about her friend, Gan has been fatally injured at war. He dies a painful death in the hospital. Weiliís memories about him have a mystic quality, just as the strange relationship that she had shared with him.

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