by Laurence Yep
Dragonwings Chapter 2 Summary
The Company (April, 1903)
- Uncle Bright Star and Moon Shadow examine one another. Uncle Bright Star is "in his eighties and short and fat and built like a rock" (2.4).
- Uncle refers to Father as Windrider, which surprises Moon Shadow as this is not his given name. The explanation of his name will come later.
- Moon Shadow's expectations to see a golden mountain reveal Hand Clap's propensity to exaggerate.
- As they walk to the Company's home, Moon Shadow is disappointed by the town's run-down appearance and smell of vomit.
- Moon Shadow is relieved when they arrive at the area built and inhabited by the Tang people. The houses and stores remind him of villages in Canton, the city in China he sailed from.
- The men of the Company point out the stores to Moon Shadow, including where the Lee family building is. Moon Shadow explains that this building would "help everyone who was named Lee" (2.35).
- Moon Shadow remarks that there were no women on the street, explaining that most Tang women in America were prostitutes or the wives of wealthy merchants.
- The Company's home is a three-story store with a sign that reads "Peach Orchard Vow" in Chinese and English (2.39). The bottom floor is for the Company business of laundry.
- White Deer, the second oldest of the Company, is a devout Buddhist. A vegetarian, he is also the one who cooks for the crowd.
- Moon Shadow lays out the structure of the Company: White Deer, Uncle Bright Star, and Hand Clap are the partners, while Lefty, Black Dog, Father, and Moon Shadow are wage workers (2.54). Uncle Bright Star is clearly the one in charge, though.
- White Deer cooks up a feast that will make you salivate.
- Lefty makes a toast with wine. We learn that he cut off his own right hand to punish himself for gambling away his Return to China fund. Thus, the name Lefty.
- The Company toasts Moon Shadow and the Company.
- Over dinner, conversation turns to politics, including the Boxer Rebellion and President Theodore Roosevelt's reelection. We learn that Uncle Bright Star does not support Roosevelt's policy against big business.
- After dinner, each of the Company members gives Moon Shadow a present. Lefty presents him with a black hat, White Deer gives a tunic and trousers, and Uncle offers a pair of boots (2.64-69).
- After Windrider references the Emperor, we learn that each of the Tang men referenced have a long braid of hair called a queue. Moon Shadow gives a brief history of the queue and its origins from the Manchus as a sign of submission for the people they ruled over (2.72).
- Windrider presents Moon Shadow with a butterfly kite. Moon Shadow nearly wets his pants (OK, not literally).
- Black Dog (Uncle's son) enters, and the mood is immediately tenser. Turns out Black Dog lived a pampered life in the Middle Kingdom and resents Uncle Bright Star for bringing him to the disappointment that was the Land of the Golden Mountain. We learn that Black Dog is hooked on opium and is in the prostitution, drug, and gambling scene. He's a classy fellow.
- Uncle is upset that Black Dog failed to greet Moon Shadow at the dock.
- Black Dog tosses a steel knife to Moon Shadow as a present, saying he may need to use it. Windrider takes the knife for safekeeping.
- The glass window in the storefront shatters. Demons threw a brick at the window from the street. They still lingered outside, shouting at the Company in slurs that Moon Shadow does not understand.
- The Company cleans the mess left by the window smashing, encouraging Windrider to show Moon Shadow his room upstairs.
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