Study Guide

A Step from Heaven Chapter 5

By An Na

Chapter 5

Hair

  • Uhmma's telling Young Ju to wear her best dress even though it has a hole in it.
  • Why? Because they're about to go to a salon to make Young Ju pretty for Mi Gook.
  • Young Ju isn't even supposed to pet the dog because she can't get dirty—but she can't resist. Hey, the dog's cute.
  • Plus Young Ju's just not into being pretty.
  • What does being pretty mean? As far as Young Ju's concerned, it means not playing (because she might get dirty) and getting her hair pulled back super-tight (ouch).
  • But Uhmma says it's important for Young Ju to be pretty so that people will know what a nice girl she is.
  • So they're walking down the street, and Young Ju's watching Uhmma's shoes "talk to the road." Okay, not literally—her shoes just make a loud "dok dok" sound.
  • Then Young Ju hears the word "curls," as in curly hair—Young Ju's about to get a perm because her mom thinks all pretty Mi Gook girls have curly hair.
  • Young Ju doesn't know anything about curls and wants to know if her mom is getting them too, but Uhmma's like "No way—I'm too old" (or something like that).
  • Then Uhmma and Young Ju get into a deep conservation about Mi Gook.
  • Okay—really it's Uhmma talking, and she's telling Young Ju that Mi Gook means Young Ju can be anything she wants to be. You know, the whole children-are-the-future schtick.
  • But all Young Ju can think about is hair, specifically curly hair, which she doesn't want because she wants hair like her mom's—heavy and straight. She even prays to God about it.
  • Young Ju tells her mom that she doesn't want curly hair, but Uhmma's not having it and even raises her hand at Young Ju as if she's about to hit her.
  • But she doesn't need to because Young Ju folds.
  • She sits through the super-long process of perming her hair while the ahjimma and her mother talk about Mi Gook.
  • Finally her hair's done… and how does it look?
  • Let's just say that Young Ju isn't happy. In fact, she thinks her hair looks like the hair of a "toy-man" (think: clown).
  • But when her mother asks her if she likes it, she lies and says yes anyway.