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Whoa. A confusing bit about how "the Word [ . . . ] sucks up" everyday things, turns them into the Word, then spits them out as Things again (2.1). Need a little help with this? Check out the "Spirituality" section in "Themes."
Lee Chong, for instance, "is more than a Chinese grocer" (2.1) He's hanging somewhere between Lao Tze and "the cash register." between spiritual and practical, i.e., the Word and the Thing (2.1).
He'll quibble over payment for beans (practical), but he'll also dig up his grandfather's bones and send them back to China to be buried properly (spiritual).
Mack and the boys have their spiritual and practical sides too. They're "the Virtues, the Graces, the Beauties" of Monterey.
While everyone else is making themselves miserable trying to get what they want, Mack and the boys just go with the flow.