Study Guide

Dragonwings Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

By Laurence Yep

Dreams, Hopes, and Plans

It will go on after me, for this Company is an idea. It is a dream – a dream that is much older than you or I and only slightly younger than the world: Men must help one another in dangerous times and places. (2.59)

For Uncle Bright Star, the Company is the dream to believe in and work for.

But finally it was time for me to return to my mortal world. It was reluctantly that the Lord said good-bye to me and added, "We will save a place at the banquet table for you. You will be eating with us soon, though, if you just remember to watch for the tests and hold to the dragon-ness within that softskin body. Now fare you well." (3.85)

Windrider finds strength in his everyday human life by holding on to the hope that he will one day return to a dragon's existence. This suggests that his dreams for the future can only be attained if he acts accordingly in the present.

"Were you really going to bring Mother over here?"

"It's only a dream of ours, Shadow," Father said gently. "Before I left home, your mother and I secretly agreed to do it could be managed; but I'm more likely to fly again in this life than to bring our mother over here."

"But perhaps you will fly," I said. "What better test of your dragon-ness than if you could fly in a softskin body? And if you could do that hard task, Uncle would have to believe you were once a real dragon, and then he would respect you even more than he does and he would do what you say. Then you could bring Mother over." (4.97-99)

In this excerpt, we see how Father's flying dream is really an extension of Moon Shadow's dream of having his parents and him together in one place. Could it be that Moon Shadow supports Father in hopes that his own dream will come true as a result?

[Father] hung his head for the longest time, staring down at his hands. I could only think of some immortal who had suddenly woken one morning to find himself in a man's body and realized he was being punished. For the second time in my life, I made an important decision to be with him.

"I want to fly too, Father," I said. (10.173-174)

Moon Shadow stands with his dad when he senses that Uncle has discouraged him. It is only with Moon Shadow's support that Windrider believes in himself.

Uncle looked at us, both hurt and confused. "Why?" he asked. "Why?"

"It's something we both have to do," I tried to explain, but it was like trying to describe colors to a blind man.

Uncle shoved his chair away from us and got up. "Get away from me," he said. (10.187-189)

When Yep writes that "it was like trying to describe colors to a blind man," he suggests that faith is not something that one can teach or explain. All it takes for one to believe in someone else's dream is the decision to have faith in them.

I was proud of Father for wanting to be a dragon again, and even prouder of the fact that he was now so close to achieving his ambition to fly. I was just sorry that we had not been able to combine his more lofty goals with the more ordinary dream of seeing Mother. (11.62)

Moon Shadow hints at frustration with his father for holding his own ambitious dream over the shared family dream of being together.

Then [Father] clapped his hand on my shoulder. "How about a cup of tea to warm our old bones?" he asked. Poor Black Dog: There was some beauty to life after all, even if it was only the beauty of hope. (11.157)

After Black Dog steals the Lees' hard-earned money, Moon Shadow realizes that hope is priceless and makes any obstacle less threatening.

I'm not going to build another Dragonwings. When I was up there on it, I found myself wishing you were up there, and your mother with you. And I realized I couldn't have the two of them together: my family and flying. And just as I saw the hill coming at me, I realized that my family meant more to me than flying. It's enough for me to know that I can fly. (12.129)

Windrider's refocused dream shows how dreams can shift over time and experience. Moon Shadow was right with his instinct to trust his mother's patience with Father.