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Chapter 21

The arrival of Cuckoo causes great conflict with O-lan, who deplores her from their days in the House of Hwang. Wang is surprised, since he expects conflict between Lotus and O-lan but does not think Cuckoo and O-lan would disagree. O-lan tells Wang how she had to submit to Cuckoo's haughty looks and orders before she came to live with Wang and how horrified she is to be under the same roof as Cuckoo. Wang is ashamed that he has caused O-lan, who does not ask for much, so much pain, but he does not relent since Lotus had begged him for Cuckoo's company and Wang could not refuse her.
O-lan handles the situation in her own way, but refusing to help Cuckoo attend to Lotus by obstructing her way in the kitchen and ignoring her questions. Cuckoo complains to Wang, who yells at O-lan, but O-lan adamantly refuses to help Cuckoo or his mistress. Wang, ashamed and unwilling to cause O-lan further pain at his hands, decides to build Cuckoo another kitchen for her usage. Wang thinks the conflicts are now resolved, but he soon learns that his problems continue to grow.
Cuckoo spends a lot of money buying exquisite foods from town everyday to serve her mistress. Wang is afraid to say anything for fear of offending Lotus, but the severe withdrawals from his deposits of silver cool some of the emotions he feels for her. Another problem is the strong friendship Lotus has with his uncle's wife, so that she eats of the rich foods as well when she dines with Lotus and Cuckoo. Wang tries to discourage the friendship, but Lotus whines that she has no other friends and only wishes to be happy. With each irritation, Wang loses some of his strong feelings for Lotus, and still the problems continue.
One day, Wang's old father, who is unaware of Lotus' presence all this time, wanders into her courts and screams that there is a harlot in the house. Wang tries to explain that Lotus is not a harlot, but Wang's father is unconvinced and continues to berate Lotus and disturb her peace. Moreover, Lotus also meets Wang's oldest daughter (the poor fool) who scares her terribly, since she is already not fond of Wang's other children. Wang, who had been reluctant to scold Lotus for fear of angering her, is quick to discipline her for her curses against his children. She tells her that no one is to speak ill of his family, especially one who has not borne any children. Wang feels terribly for his children, especially his eldest daughter, and spends more time with them after the incident. Lotus, sensing that she has angered Wang, goes to extra lengths to please him, but still Wang can never love her as much as he did before she yelled at his children.
After awhile, Wang wakes to find that the waters have receded and his land can be seen. Wang is so excited that he strips off his nice shoes in order to place his bare feet on the ground. He calls quickly to Ching, eager to commence with the planting.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Chapter 1
Chapter 2 and 3
Chapter 4 and 5
Chapter 6 and 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10 and 11
Chapter 12 and 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Chapter 28
Chapter 29
Chapter 30
Chapter 31
Chapter 32
Chapter 33
Chapter 34


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