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MonkeyNotes-The Kitchen God's Wife by Amy Tan
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Jimmy Louie’s sudden emergence in Weili’s life could very well be compared to God descending on earth to save mankind. Just when life seemed to be bleak and dry to Weili, Jimmy comes as a ray of hope.

The backdrop to Jimmy Louie’s entry in Weili’s life is just perfect. After years of fear and times of ‘taonan’ the reader is refreshed with the sight of celebration of the Christmas time. There is gaiety and joy everywhere in the party hosted for the American success in saving China from one of the Japanese air raids.

As a translator, Jimmy Louie is the link between the Chinese and the Americans. Jimmy is skilled in the art of giving new names to the people. The Chinese girls are thrilled with Americanized names like Peggy, Susie, and Maggie, which are easier to spell as compared to their real Chinese names. He volunteers to name Weili as ‘Winnie’ and Hulan as ‘Helen.’ Wen Fu also asks for a new name and Jimmy names him ‘Victor’ and Jiaguo as ‘Jack.’ But Wen Fu insists on a better name and this time, Jimmy names him as ‘Judas.’ Wen Fu instantly likes the names unaware of the biblical denotations of ‘Judas.’ Jimmy has purposely given Wen Fu this name and Weili is aware of it.

Jimmy falls in love with Weili the first time he sees her. For Weili, Jimmy appeals to the deepest core of her heart. Never in her life did Weili expect that she would meet a good-humored man like Jimmy after her traumas with Wen Fu. Little did she realize then that Jimmy would be her future husband. It seems that there is some connection between her falling down and meeting the man she likes. Later, in her life she once again faints on seeing Dr. Lin who had proposed her much early in her life. In this case with Jimmy, Weili has problems with her heel, which had come off from her shoe. Her problematic heel could be compared to her arrogant husband, Wen Fu. Just at the ripe time, when her married life is further deteriorating, Jimmy Louie enters her life as a silver lining. For the brief moments of happiness with Jimmy, Weili has to pay a heavy price - torture in the hands of Wen Fu.


The strong tie between Weili and Hulan weakens when Hulan tells Wen Fu about Weili’s hideout. The previous night Wen Fu had humiliated Weili by raping her at gunpoint. After this shocking incident, Weili decides to leave Wen Fu in order to protect both herself and her son, Danru. But Hulan is unable to understand Weili’s reasons for leaving Wen Fu. According to her, a woman has no existence without her husband and therefore she thinks that she has helped her friend by maintaining her marriage. Despite knowing Hulan very well, Weili cannot forgive Hulan for her breach of trust. Now her life with Wen Fu is reduced to nothing but humiliation and helplessness. She begins to think of her body as ‘a machine,’ producing babies. In the case of Danru, the damage has been done. But she does not want to bring more babies to the world, just to face Wen Fu’s cruelty. Therefore the only way left for her is to abort her unborn babies. Weili feels guilty, whenever she aborts a baby. The only consolation for Weili is that, by doing this she is sparing the babies from having a life of misery.

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