Study Guide

Dragonwings

Dragonwings Summary

Seven-year-old Moon Shadow Lee lives and works on his family farm in China in 1903. Moon Shadow has never met his father, who left to work in America, and he constantly pesters Mother to tell stories about his dad, the master kite-maker.

Windrider, his father, sends for Moon Shadow to come to America and live with him. When Moon Shadow arrives, his father introduces him to their all-male family abroad: the proud leader Uncle Bright Star, the chef White Deer, the poet Lefty, and Hand Clap, the exaggerator. These men are referred to as the Company since they live and run a laundromat together in the Tang people's village in San Francisco, California.

On Moon Shadow's first night in America, "white demons" (white Americans) throw a brick through the storefront window, shattering glass. This events sets the story's backdrop of American xenophobia (dislike or fear of foreigners). Upstairs in their room, Windrider shares his most precious dream with Moon Shadow. In this dream, Windrider helps heal the mighty King Dragon, who tells Windrider that he will return to his true form as a dragon if he passes the tests he is given as a human in this life. Windrider shows Moon Shadow all of the electronic gadgets he's fiddled with and tells his son that he wants to build an airplane and fly. Uncle Bright Star insists Windrider is crazy.

Moon Shadow settles into his new life and goes with Windrider to collect and deliver laundry when he's not in school or doing other chores. Windrider helps fix a demon's automobile; the demon respectfully introduces himself as Mr. Alger.

Trouble comes in the form of Black Dog, Uncle Bright Star's delinquent son. Windrider and Moon Shadow find him outside an opium den and save him from being shot by the Justices, the corrupt neighborhood watchmen. But, one day Black Dog beats Moon Shadow up in order to steal the money Moon Shadow has been collecting from laundry customers. Windrider vows to avenge his son and goes to the Sleepers – basically an underground gang – to have a one-on-one fight with Black Dog. Moon Shadow follows. Though Black Dog pulls some shady tricks, Windrider and Moon Shadow come out the winners, but they have killed a man in self-defense. To escape the wrath of the dead man's family, Windrider plans for he and his son to work for Mr. Alger and leave the Tang people's village. The Company warns them of the dangers of living among the demons and gives them parting gifts.

Moon Shadow and Windrider move into a stable behind Miss Whitlaw's boarding house. Moon Shadow likes Miss Whitlaw, even though she is a demoness. After all, she has a cool dragon stained glass window and a stereopticon (a kind of 3D slide projector). Robin, Miss Whitlaw's niece, plays the piano and the ladies sing songs for the Lees. Moon Shadow starts to use his half hour of his free time each day to visit Miss Whitlaw, bringing the gift of jasmine tea.

The neighborhood demon boys are cruel to Moon Shadow, ridiculing his English; he becomes scared of leaving the stable and going to the outside water pump at night. However, Robin is a good friend and shares her dime novels with Moon Shadow, and in return Moon Shadow impresses Robin with dragon stories and airplane knowhow.

Moon Shadow asks Miss Whitlaw for help in composing a letter to the Wright brothers (the Americans credited with inventing the airplane) to ask them about plane specifics to help Father. Though Windrider is too proud to accept help at first, soon he starts to use the letters and diagrams as lessons for his glider model building. Moon Shadow, Windrider, Robin, and Miss Whitlaw go to the sand dunes to test out one of the glider models.

Sensing that he fears the neighborhood boys, Robin tells Moon Shadow that the leader, Jack, is afraid of being punched in the nose. So, obviously, Moon Shadow goes out and punches Jack, which seems to earn him the bully's respect. Go figure.

The Feast of Pure Brightness happily reunites the Lees with the Company, but then the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 erupts and the city falls apart. Miss Whitlaw rallies up neighbors to look for survivors, with Robin and the Lees helping. Maisie and Jack are lost and not found. The fire at Market is announced and the neighbors panic.

The Whitlaws and the Lees go to Golden Gate Park. Lefty is there and asks for Windrider to help convince Uncle to leave the Company building. They return to Miss Whitlaw's to help her pack up possessions, and then the Lees leave with Lefty to collect the Company and set up camp at the Park. The Whitlaws dine with the Company, and it's not as awkward as any of them expect it to be.

As the fires die down, soldiers come around herding Chinese people and making them march in circles around San Francisco, unjustly refusing to let the Tang people return to the remains of their town. Uncle and the other community leaders strike a deal with the authorities and the Tang community together rebuilds the village.

Windrider announces his desire to pursue his dreams of flying, selfish though Uncle accuses him of being. Moon Shadow volunteers to help Windrider however he can. The two move to a stinky barn in Oakland, and Moon Shadow gets work as a grocery delivery boy. Moon Shadow's mother and grandmother write, with Mother begging Moon Shadow to give Father all the support he needs. Grandmother, on the other hand, thinks Windrider is nuts.

Windrider works super hard and eventually builds a functional airplane that he and Moon Shadow paint like a dragon; they name the airplane Dragonwings. All plans are in order for the first flight, except Black Dog comes and threatens to kill Moon Shadow if the Lees don't hand over their savings. Windrider gives up the money. So, even though Moon Shadow is alive, he and his father are bummed that all they've worked for is obliterated this late in the game. They vow to rebuild their resources and try again.

The next morning, the Company arrives and loans Windrider lots of money. The Company helps the Lees pull Dragonwings up the hill, and the Whitlaws arrive just in time. Windrider flies Dragonwings to everyone's joy, but the frame snaps, leaving Windrider with a broken leg and ribs. He realizes that, now that he's achieved his dream of flight, family is a more important dream to him.

The Company offers Windrider partnership in the laundromat, which allows him to apply for Mother to come to America. Father goes to China to bring Mother to America. Moon Shadow sits with Robin and marvels at his luck. Laurence Yep closes the book with an afterword that speaks of the true story of Fung Joe Guey on which Dragonwings is based.

  • Chapter 1

    The Land of the Demons (February-March, 1903)

    • We meet our narrator, who remembers his boyhood with his mother in the Middle Kingdom (or "China," if you don't want the Chinese to English translation) while his father worked in the Land of the Golden Mountain (the USA, "the demon land," etc.).
    • We learn that the narrator's father is working overseas to earn money.
    • The racial tension and violence in America is immediately addressed when we learn that the narrator's grandfather was lynched thirty years ago (1.1).
    • The narrator's mother pulls the weight on the family farm in China. Her mad busy schedule also doubles as a convenient excuse to avoid the narrator's questions about his father and America.
    • Not only is she busy with the chickens, the rice fields, and the pig, the narrator's mom also prays and burns incense for her husband in the village temple.
    • We also learn that the narrator has never met his father. He and his mother cannot live in the Land of the Golden Mountain with his father because of political reasons both on the American front and the Chinese side. We learn that this affects many families, the narrator's being one.
    • The narrator refers to his race of people as people of the Tang, not as Chinese (1.5). This specificity alludes to the long history of what we know as China and the multiple dynasties that have ruled its people.
    • We learn that the narrator's mother and grandmother are illiterate, much like the majority of the people in their village. The family relies on the village schoolmaster to read and take dictation to write letters to Father. We learn that Father's letters arrive on a weekly basis (1.6).
    • The narrator knows very little about his father, but he is thrilled by this one thing his mother has told him: his father makes amazing kites. Not like the kind you get for a couple bucks at the grocery store, mind you – but kites that "were often treasured by their owners like family heirlooms" (1.7).
    • The narrator recounts moments when he and his mother would go out flying his father's kites. One of these kites was a swallow, an especially fast kite. Another was of a caterpillar.
    • We learn that the narrator is seven years old (to an American catalogue of time); he shares that the Tang people include the gestation period of a baby as its first year, so by his count he's eight.
    • Mother comes alive whenever the narrator and she go fly kites, chattering away about the times she and Father would go kiting together.
    • Grandmother tells the narrator about the Land of the Golden Mountain, explaining that the name for the land abroad comes from the huge mountain there where gold is plentiful. She tells the narrator that "the demons" (that seems a fair way to refer to Americans, eh?) patrol the mountain and beat up anyone who does other than they're told (1.16).
    • We learn that the narrator's grandparents were only married for one year before Grandfather left for the Land of the Golden Mountain (1.18).
    • The narrator recalls the dismembered men who have returned to the Middle Kingdom – physically ill men and, even more hauntingly, the coffins of men.
    • After the narrator's eighth birthday (or ninth, by Tang count), Hand Clap visits and reads a letter from Father. Father wants the narrator to go overseas to be with him, figuring it'll be easier for him to learn "the demon tongue" (English) in America (1.26).
    • We learn that the narrator's family name is Lee. Because Hand Clap shares the same family name, the narrator's family refers to their visitor as a cousin.
    • During the conversation among Hand Clap, Mother, and Grandmother, we learn that the narrator's name is Moon Shadow.
    • Amidst the debate amongst the adults, Moon Shadow announces that he wishes to go to the Land of the Golden Mountain. His decision is informed by his wish to know his father as well as his wish to obey his father's request to join him.
    • Moon Shadow details the meaning of calling something a demon or a devil. He explains that there are demons in the Middle Kingdom as well, and they are trickier because you can always be assured that an "American devil means you harm" (1.35).
    • The narrator is frightened to go to America. He has heard loads of creepy stories about cannibalism and torture in the Land of the Golden Mountain. Plus, in recent years the narrator remembers the demons banning over twenty thousand people from returning to America, not to mention the people who were excluded from admittance to begin with (1.38). For more grisly details, go to your book.
    • Nevertheless, Moon Shadow goes with Hand Clap on a ship across the Pacific Ocean. Hand Clap tells him what information to give to the authorities: subtracting a year to his age as conversion, and putting his family name last instead of first.
    • Upon arrival in America, Moon Shadow and Hand Clap are kept in a building for a week before questioning begins. Conditions are rough: sleeping and eating off the floor, no showering, the constant smell of sewage...
    • The U.S. authorities try to trip Moon Shadow up by asking him tougher questions about his family than Regis on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? They have extensive papers on his father and the answers he gave, and they create new records based on Moon Shadow's responses.
    • Moon Shadow passes the test apparently because he is admitted. He remarks that, though there are plenty of hills, he does not see a single golden one.
    • Moon Shadow has brought his possessions with him in a wooden box, which he hugs close to his body as he walks with Hand Clap toward the crowd of Tang people.
    • Hand Clap points out people in the crowd; these people are the Company that the family refers to. We meet Uncle Bright Star, a "fat, old man" (1.45).
    • We meet Father just as Moon Shadow does, a "tall man" (1.45). Moon Shadow runs to him and they embrace.
  • Chapter 2

    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 linger 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.
  • Chapter 3

    The Dragon Man (April, 1903)

    • Moon Shadow explains that Tang men can and do have multiple names throughout a lifetime.
    • Windrider shows Moon Shadow their room. It is filled with small machines that are foreign to Moon Shadow.
    • Windrider excitedly shows Moon Shadow each of the strange machines, including earphones, a crystal set, and electric light in a lightbulb.
    • Moon Shadow gets the heebie-jeebies from these electric devices. His father senses his fear and laments that he does not know how to be a father. The father and son pair promise to learn together.
    • Windrider decides to tell his son about his name. He goes into a sweeping narrative involving a Dragon King. His memory comes from the first night he spent in America. When he woke up, he was on a beach of jewels with a dragon about five hundred yards long on it.
    • Windrider tells of how he knew that the dragon was an Imperial Dragon because of its five claws, and how the dragon was quite old and badly injured.
    • Still in Windrider's memory, the Dragon King tells Windrider that he used to be a fine dragon, but was punished for immoral behavior by being transformed into a "softskin," or human (3.33). He was punished for trying to extinguish the sun with the force of his wings. Though he has no memory of it, as a dragon, Windrider was the "greatest physician of all the dragons" (3.37).
    • The Dragon King tells Windrider that his remaining power lies in his kite-making abilities. He requests that Windrider heal him, saying that the wisdom of how to do so lies in his hands (3.43).
    • Windrider requests the Dragon King reduce himself in size so his body can be worked on. The Dragon King shrinks to about twelve feet.
    • Windrider remembers how his hands knew how to heal the Dragon King. He does indeed fix him.
    • Windrider wishes to return to his natural state as a dragon, but the Dragon King says he needs to wait until his life as a softskin is over. He will be given a series of tests as a human he will need to pass to become dragon again.
    • The Dragon King has nearby soldiers affix wings onto Windrider so he can see how awesome the dragon kingdom is. Windrider uses his wings to fly.
    • The Dragon King takes off in flight, strutting his flying skills. He and Windrider race through the sky to Windrider's home.
    • Windrider remembers the Dragon King's throne and how amazing it was, full of gems and gold. On the back of the throne was a black stone with the word for sharing on it; the Dragon King used this to speak to whomever he wanted. Kind of sounds like Beauty and the Beast's magic mirror.
    • The Dragon King uses the throne device to contact each of his descendents for a banquet.
    • He then lets Windrider contact someone of his choosing. Windrider picks his wife, and he suddenly hears Mother singing a lullaby to a gurgling Moon Shadow. Windrider decides not to speak to her, as it would only bring a more intense sense of pain and longing.
    • The Dragon King loses a game of dominoes to Windrider and saves the winnings for his future return to the dragon world.
    • Windrider returns to the mortal world, and thus finishes telling his dream to Moon Shadow.
    • Windrider admits he has no proof that this memory ever happened. Moon Shadow assures his father that he believes in the memory as reality.
    • Uncle Bright Star throws a wooden carving of a monkey onto Moon Shadow's bed as an embarrassed gift. Moon Shadow keeps its creator a secret from the Company, figuring Uncle would want it that way. The little sculpture is really something, Moon Shadow reflects, impressed by Uncle's rheumatic hands.
    • Moon Shadow falls asleep with the Monkey beside him.
  • Chapter 4

    Tests (April, 1903-February, 1904)

    • Moon Shadow reflects on the camaraderie of the Company. He considers the men his brothers more than his business partners or friends.
    • The narrator details his daily routine, which is not much different than the long hours he kept on the family farm in China. Other than chores, Moon Shadow goes to a special school for Tang children that is really underfunded and crumby (Tang children aren't allowed in school with the other American children). It's much more effective for Moon Shadow to learn from the Company.
    • Throughout the day, Uncle and Windrider talk with Moon Shadow in English as much as they can, referencing the demons' magazines and newspapers.
    • In school with the other Tang children, Moon Shadow learns about the Chinese classics.
    • Moon Shadow works sixteen hours a day. Kind of puts the task of reading this book in perspective, eh?
    • The job Moon Shadow likes best is delivering and picking up laundry from customers. We learn that Windrider's English is the best in the Company.
    • We meet Red Rabbit, the horse that pulls the delivery wagon. Ironically, Red Rabbit is lazy and slow, though he was named after a god of war.
    • Uncle worries that Moon Shadow will get hurt by leaving the Tang quarters of town. But Windrider insists that Moon Shadow is ready.
    • At this point in the story, Moon Shadow has been in America for one month.
    • Moon Shadow is afraid when he goes out on the wagon with Windrider for the first time. Sensing this, Windrider comforts his son by speaking of the Old Ones, the ancestors that they burn incense for and who watch over them.
    • Moon Shadow learns how his grandfather died: a demon had cut off Grandfather's queue. Instead of silently taking it, Grandfather spat in the faces of the demons and destroyed them. By the end of it, though, he was overtaken and hung by the demons.
    • Moon Shadow goes to the doors of the laundry customers with his father, proud to help out with a bundle or two.
    • During their wagon journeys, Windrider tells Moon Shadow about his first years in America. Moon Shadow likes it best when he sings tunes that his parents came up with – something about foxes and not having any clothes (4.18-30).
    • Moon Shadow learns about the demons' dressing habits through all this laundry handling. He thinks things like petticoats are hilarious.
    • Moon Shadow feels safe with his father, whom he believes to be a "superior man" (4.32).
    • He remembers the one tense encounter they had on delivery where some demon boys threw stuff at them in the wagon and cursed at them. Windrider whispered for his son to sit confidently.
    • One day Windrider and Moon Shadow meet Mr. Alger, a stranger by the side of the road with a busted horseless carriage.
    • Windrider pulls over Red Rabbit and the wagon and offers the man his help. Windrider figures out what is up with the motor. When Mr. Alger offers him some money, Windrider refuses it.
    • Impressed, Mr. Alger gives Windrider his card, saying that he could use "honest handymen" (4.47).
    • Moon Shadow reads Mr. Alger's business card, so we learn his name is Oliver and he is in real estate.
    • Windrider uses this exchange as an example of how machines provide a way of communicating without the trip-ups of verbal language. Windrider likens his handiwork with the horseless carriage to his surgery on the Dragon King: his hands just know what to do.
    • Moon Shadow wonders whether the encounter with Mr. Alger was a test of the Dragon King.
    • Windrider studies the demons' newspapers and magazines extra hard after meeting Mr. Alger.
    • Moon Shadow not only has to learn two languages (English and Mandarin Chinese) but also two sets of time, two calendars.
    • Moon Shadow wants to improve his Chinese skills so he can write to Mother and read her frequent letters. Grandmother complains that they have started to spend more money on letters since Moon Shadow's arrival in America.
    • Moon Shadow writes his first lines to Mother and Grandmother in November 1903.
    • After receiving one of her letters, Moon Shadow feels bad for neglecting his family in China, realizing that he has all but forgotten what his life was like there. He thinks of his mother memorizing his father's letters, and misses her.
    • Windrider shows Moon Shadow the January 17, 1904 edition of the New York Herald, announcing that demons have flown an aeroplane. Demons, the Wright brothers, po-tay-to, po-tah-to. He decides that he could fly, too.
    • Uncle and White Deer play Chinese chess, or go, downstairs. Uncle doesn't believe the news about the Wright brothers. He sits in his throne at the table so the Company knows not to argue with him.
    • Melon Head, a fellow laundryman from Oakland, visits and tells the Company about some Baldwin demon who floated in the winds with a canvas bag full of air called the California Arrow (4.78). Baldwin is testing his device to race it at some big fair.
    • Uncle Bright Star is upset by this news; he sees all these accounts of flying as bullsugar. He accuses Windrider for being too deep in a fantasy world, and ends up spilling the beans that Windrider is hoping to bring Moon Shadow's mom over from China.
    • Windrider explains that the demon laws are such that only a merchant can bring a wife over to America. We then learn that the Company had pretended that Windrider was a partner in the laundry company so that he could bring Moon Shadow over. The thing that is stopping them from bringing Mother over on the same documents is that Uncle Bright Star has put his foot down. If they try to use those documents saying that Windrider is a partner in the Company, Uncle will go report him.
    • In his defense, Uncle explains that the Land of the Golden Mountain is no place for Moon Shadow's mother. After all, they are getting bricks hurled at them.
    • Before Uncle and Windrider get into a ginormo fight over the point of flying, Windrider and Moon Shadow bid the crew goodnight and go upstairs.
    • Moon Shadow is super-excited about the prospect of his mom coming over to America. Windrider tells his son not to hold his breath, saying that he's more likely to fly than be able to bring his wife over.
    • Moon Shadow seems convinced that his dad just needs to fly in his softskin body, and then all their problems will be solved. He'll pass the test to turn back into a dragon, Uncle would believe in him and his dream, and then Mother could be brought over (4.99).
    • The next day, Uncle apologizes to Windrider by way of chastising himself for drinking too much. Windrider irons.
    • White Deer tells Moon Shadow not to blame Uncle for his misguided behavior. He says that Uncle is having a rough time with Black Dog, and he's taking it out on Windrider.
    • Ten days later, Black Dog still has not returned. White Deer and Windrider agree to look for him.
    • Lefty shares his plan to gamble with Leopard Head, a man from the north country who was part of the Brotherhood of Eternal Repose. Black Dog is also part of this brotherhood, nicknamed the Sleepers.
    • Uncle is too proud to admit that he wants help with Black Dog, so he makes the Company promise not to look for him. Uncle suddenly decides to go visit Whirlwind, another member of the Sleepers.
    • With Uncle gone, the Company splits up to search: Windrider is in charge of covering the opium dens, White Deer the restaurants, Lefty the gambling dens, and Hand Clap the brothels. Moon Shadow convinces his dad to let him tag along, though he's warned that the opium dens are super-shady.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow head to an opium den in the alley called Devil's Kitchen.
    • Windrider talks to a man inside and associates himself with the Heavenly Order brotherhood in Sacramento ("the Little City") in 1897. The man responds positively and references the fighting that took place in Sacramento then. He recognizes him as Windrider and promises to let him know if Black Dog shows up.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow go to three more dens with no more luck. But then they see three men, the Justices, go into an opium den and come out with a half-naked man they identify as Black Dog. Two other men come out from the den in defense of Black Dog and refer to one of the Justices as Bloody Hands. He has a pistol. We learn that Black Dog stole from a lady before beating her up.
    • Black Dog doesn't look afraid when he speaks to the middle Justice, Lead Hand. He compares him to a cockroach that he'll trample in a future life, which, believe it or not, Lead Hand is not so crazy about. He pulls the safety of the gun.
    • At this moment, Windrider does two special whistles that sound like police shrills. Lead Hand and the other two men run off scared.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow go to Black Dog, who resists their advances. Windrider knocks him out with a punch and throws him over his shoulder.
    • Moon Shadow gawks at Black Dog before collecting his hat and shirt like Windrider tells him to do.
  • Chapter 5

    Windrider's Claws (February, 1904-May, 1905)

    • Uncle Bright Star tries to figure out how he'll pay back the money Black Dog stole. He claims that Whiskey Devil, the head of the Justices, owes him a favor from a while back, so he won't have to pay him that much.
    • The Company all vote to share the cost with Uncle Bright Star, despite his grumbling. Windrider says that the Company is their family, too.
    • It's not long before Black Dog's sourness and drug use returns. One month after Moon Shadow and Windrider bring him back, he returns to the Company stinking of opium.
    • Since Moon Shadow is now the double digits of ten years old in demon time, he is assigned the role of collecting overdue bills in the Tang village.
    • One day, while making rounds, he sees Black Dog. They have a short and sweet heart to heart, which involves Black Dog telling Moon Shadow the love story behind opium use (5.23-26). Black Dog resents having to work hard for other people's benefit overseas. Moon Shadow has hope that things will be better in next lives.
    • Black Dog jerks Moon Shadow's queue and kicks at him with his boots. Black Dog steals Moon Shadow's money for collecting bills.
    • Moon Shadow wakes up in the Company home with Windrider hovering over him.
    • Moon Shadow hesitates before confirming Uncle's suspicion that Black Dog was the bully.
    • Windrider is determined to avenge his son and hound Black Dog (no pun intended).
    • The rest of the Company think Windrider is bonkers, suggesting instead that they should leave the demon police or the Sleepers handle it. Windrider surprises them all with his conviction when he says that he's sick of dealing with "men who live off the misery of their brothers and sisters" (5.58). He seems to be saying that working within the Man of the police and the Sleepers is really also participating within corrupt wheelings and dealings.
    • Uncle urges him to reconsider, saying that Tang people should take care of themselves rather than running to the demon authorities.
    • Windrider decides to go after Black Dog and the Sleepers himself, saying that dragons "protect their own brood" (5.65). Uncle tells him he's a fool.
    • It gets let out that Windrider was once a member of the Sleepers (5.72). The Company leaves Moon Shadow and Windrider alone in their room.
    • Lefty guards their room outside with a club, ensuring that Windrider stays within its walls.
    • Windrider orders Moon Shadow to go to sleep. Then he busts out his hidden hatchet, or sword, if you will.
    • Windrider quickly opens the door and K.O.s Lefty. When Moon Shadow hears his dad leaving, of course he runs after him.
    • Moon Shadow follows his dad to Dupont Street, where Windrider goes to a door and asks for Water Fairy, a.k.a. Tiger General, the head of the Sleepers.
    • The Tiger General obviously has a history with Windrider that we don't know about. The two of them exchange some words before Black Dog is brought out and challenged by Windrider to fight. Someone tosses Black Dog a sword so he's not unarmed.
    • Black Dog fakes a hurt back and calls for a hidden guy to shoot Windrider. Moon Shadow quickly throws himself onto the man with the gun, saving his dad's life.
    • Windrider and Black Dog have a sword duel. Windrider obviously kicks Black Dog's booty.
    • Moon Shadow is busy with his own fight and is nearly killed before Windrider hatchets the almost-killer in his back.
    • The Tiger General apologizes for the hidden fighters, insisting that the duel was to be between Windrider and Black Dog only. He dumps Black Dog on the street. The Tiger General advises Windrider to leave town for a while, especially since he's killed a man.
    • When Moon Shadow awakes the next morning, Windrider has been out of the house. He has decided to leave the Tang people's area of town. He has gotten a job as a mechanic for Mr. Alger's apartments. Windrider and Moon Shadow will live with a "demoness" or American lady.
    • Uncle Bright Star warns Windrider of the dangers of leaving the Tang people's town, saying that Melon Head was blinded in one eye the other day.
    • The next day Moon Shadow and Windrider load up the wagon to go to their new home.
    • The Company gathers to bid the two farewell and to offer gifts. White Deer gives a statue of the Buddha-to-be, Lefty gives them a poem that he wrote before he cut off his right hand, and Hand Clap gives them each a necklace with a special charm (5.131).
    • Uncle Bright Star enters last in his finest garments. He gives the father and son pair a porcelain cup with a bit of soil from China.
    • Windrider does the strange and bold thing of shaking hands with each of the Company men. Shaking hands, instead of bowing, is a demon greeting that seems to mark a new standard of behavior.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow board the wagon with Hand Clap and are on their way.
  • Chapter 6

    The Demoness (May, 1905)

    • Moon Shadow describes the poorer demons that hang out around Polk Street. He thinks the houses look like monsters with lots of windows for eyes.
    • The wagon pulls up to a Victorian house. Moon Shadow is frightened when he is told to watch the wagon while Windrider and Hand Clap go inside.
    • Hand Clap wishes Moon Shadow and Windrider well and prepares to go, but Red Rabbit waits for Windrider to get in. It's a bittersweet moment when Moon Shadow and Windrider watch Hand Clap and Red Rabbit slowly recede in the distance.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow go to the backyard stable, where Windrider immediately gets to work building shelves for the Company's gifts.
    • The two go to the main house to visit their landlady, Miss Whitlaw. But first, Moon Shadow's a smelly kid, so Windrider gives him a crisp new shirt to wear. Moon Shadow complains that Miss Whitlaw is only a demon, why should he clean up? Windrider responds that Mother believes everyone should be treated with respect in case they were royalty in past lives.
    • The father and son meet Miss Whitlaw, the first demoness Moon Shadow has seen up close. Moon Shadow expects her to look like a Miyazaki villain of sorts, but finds her to be pleasant.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow present Miss Whitlaw with a picture of the Stove King, a messenger to the Lord of Heaven who Tang people bribe with tasty foods so he'll report good things about the families.
    • Miss Whitlaw invites Windrider to tea and Moon Shadow to gingerbread cookies and milk. Moon Shadow is suspicious of the milk, mistaking it for cow's urine. He is all about the gingerbread cookies, however, and eats all of them.
    • Throughout this introduction to Miss Whitlaw, Windrider and Moon Shadow alternate between Mandarin and English, with the English designated by italics in the book.
    • A crash at the door announces Miss Whitlaw's niece, Robin, who moved in when her parents died. Robin is the first demon child Moon Shadow has been so close to. Robin is spying at the door, and Miss Whitlaw reprimands her.
    • Moon Shadow is busy checking out Robin's red hair and gingham dress when he notices her toy gadget, the stereopticon. He looks through the lenses and is shocked to find himself looking at Niagara Falls.
    • They all move to the parlor room. The room has a slide projector, travel books, and other knick knacks that imply Miss Whitlaw's love for travel.
    • Moon Shadow admires the stained glass window featured in the parlor. The window depicts a dragon, which Miss Whitlaw describes as evil creatures that St. George killed. Moon Shadow is stunned that the demoness's idea of dragons is so negative and clearly misguided. He wants Windrider to correct her, but Father says it's rude to correct a host.
    • Robin begins playing the piano, the first that Moon Shadow has seen of its kind. Miss Whitlaw takes the bench and plays "Simple Gifts" upon Robin's request. Moon Shadow is impressed by the way Miss Whitlaw plays and sings.
    • The sun's glow through the stained glass mixed with the overall encounter with the demoness makes Moon Shadow wish his mother were with him.
    • When Moon Shadow and Windrider return to their stable, Moon Shadow shares some theories about Miss Whitlaw being a Tang person in a former life, or being the ghost of a Tang woman.
    • Moon Shadow falls asleep considering the notion that he and Miss Whitlaw were maybe even mother and son in a previous life. He decides that she deserves to know about dragons, if so.
  • Chapter 7

    Educations (May-June, 1905)

    • Moon Shadow's schedule at the stable is not too different than it was before in the Tang village. He goes into the Tang people's town in the morning or early afternoon to buy goods. He works every day but Sunday.
    • Every day Windrider allows Moon Shadow one half hour of recreation. One day Moon Shadow decides to use this time to pay Miss Whitlaw a visit.
    • Miss Whitlaw offers Moon Shadow cookies and milk. Moon Shadow presents jasmine tea to her as a gift, which she eventually accepts.
    • Moon Shadow is appalled when Miss Whitlaw almost puts milk and sugar into the jasmine tea. He stops her just in time.
    • The packaging of the tea has a dragon on it that Miss Whitlaw comments on as beautiful.
    • Moon Shadow tries to explain that dragons can also be great creatures, not only the mischievous ones that the demons seem to know.
    • There's a knock at the door and both Moon Shadow and Miss Whitlaw realize that he has gone over his half hour time. Father appears, stern.
    • We learn that Miss Whitlaw has five elderly boarders in her home.
    • Moon Shadow has a bad encounter with the neighborhood demon boys one day when he's taking out the trash. There's this one especially obnoxious boy with brown hair and freckles.
    • The boys jeer at Moon Shadow, chanting a cruel rhyme. When Moon Shadow tries to defend himself, they make fun of his English. So, naturally, Moon Shadow curses them out in Chinese.
    • The boys throw vegetables, garbage, and stones at Moon Shadow.
    • Moon Shadow keeps the incident from his father, afraid that it'll make them move back under the control of the Sleepers.
    • Moon Shadow stays indoors when his father is gone, afraid to meet the boys' meanness again. Windrider comes home with a black eye, saying some Tang men tried to rob him in Mr. Alger's building. He is proud to say that he won the fight.
    • Moon Shadow is especially skittish when he's using the water pump outside, so afraid that he usually runs back and empties half of the water bucket.
    • Robin notices Moon Shadow acting in this anxious way and brings buckets of vegetables to peel outside to keep him company. But she doesn't outright tell him that. She instead badgers him with questions, like why is he so afraid of the water pump?
    • Miss Whitlaw catches Robin pestering Moon Shadow and chastises her.
    • To prove to Robin that he is not afraid, Moon Shadow joins her by the water pump.
    • Windrider spends half an hour each day reading aeronautical books to Moon Shadow. They figure out the ratios to build a model glider together.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow walk to the sand dunes in San Francisco on Windrider's day off. Robin follows them.
    • They test run the glider. Windrider immediately knows what to work on for the next version.
    • Robin is impressed with Moon Shadow's English when it comes to all things plane-related.
    • Robin goes to their stable to see the airplane books. She wants to see the books from which Moon Shadow got the dragon stories. Moon Shadow explains that he didn't get the stories from books. He says that dragons could be all around and teeny tiny.
    • Robin tells Moon Shadow that she is from Missouri by way of excusing her stubbornness.
    • Robin shares her books by E. Nesbit with Moon Shadow. She also brings along dime novels, which she borrows from the girl next door, Maisie.
    • Robin and Miss Whitlaw give Moon Shadow reading and writing lessons with these books. Moon Shadow's particularly into the dime novels. Who doesn't like smut?
    • Moon Shadow shares his memories of home with the ladies. Their relationship gets closer and Moon Shadow is convinced they were close in a previous life.
    • Things aren't going so great for his father, so Moon Shadow takes things into his own hands and writes a letter to the Wright brothers with Miss Whitlaw's help.
    • Two weeks later, Moon Shadow gets a letter from Orville Wright that includes diagrams and charts about airplane stuff.
    • Windrider is upset with Moon Shadow when he learns that his son asked for help from the Wright brothers and Miss Whitlaw. He worries that Moon Shadow told Miss Whitlaw about his dream. He crumples up the letter.
    • Miss Whitlaw comforts Moon Shadow and continues the comparison of Windrider to a dragon (7.165).
    • The next morning, Windrider has flattened out the crumpled letters and is examining them. He asks Moon Shadow to write another letter to the Wright brothers, okaying Miss Whitlaw's help.
  • Chapter 8

    Earth, Wind, and Water (June-September, 1905)

    • Moon Shadow and Orville Wright continue their correspondence. Orville is a prompt and no-fluff kind of pen pal. We learn that the Wright brothers have not yet earned the public's favor – most people thought they were bogus storytellers. (Kind of like what Uncle thinks of Windrider.)
    • Windrider creates a new glider model with each letter, using the diagrams and correspondences as his airplane lessons.
    • Robin and Moon Shadow arrange a Saturday picnic for Windrider to test out the latest mock-up.
    • Saturday morning Windrider braids his hair with a special red ribbon that Mother gave him their first year of marriage.
    • Robin, Moon Shadow, Windrider, and Miss Whitlaw take the streetcar to Ocean Beach. There are seals and sand dunes. Robin and Moon Shadow play in the waves.
    • The crew has lunch. Miss Whitlaw has prepared Thanksgiving-like sandwiches with turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. Moon Shadow brought meat dumplings and various pastries.
    • When Windrider says it's time to test the kite, Robin and Moon Shadow have a brief tiff over who gets to hold the string.
    • Robin, Miss Whitlaw, Moon Shadow, and Windrider take turns flying the glider.
    • They all enjoy the sunset together, and Moon Shadow thinks of the stars like dragon eyes (8.41).
    • Windrider takes out a red strip of paper on which he has written the poem that Lefty had given him and Moon Shadow. He fastens the paper onto the glider like a kite tail.
    • Miss Whitlaw and Windrider agree that it is time to return home.
    • Windrider swiftly takes out a penknife and cuts the string of the glider, releasing it into the sky.
    • The rest of the gang are shocked and saddened, since it's a pretty awesome glider. Windrider assures them that there will be more, saying he will make one for each of them.
    • Moon Shadow describes how once a week he goes into the Tang people's town and does the letter thing, sending some off and picking up the ones that have arrived.
    • In July, Moon Shadow and Windrider get Mother and Grandmother's response to their move into demon territory. They are definitely worried for them, warning them about demon water and such.
    • One Sunday Windrider needs to go in for work, but he's made gliders for Moon Shadow, Robin, and Miss Whitlaw.
    • Moon Shadow's still threatened by the demon boys, so he stays indoors even though he and Robin want to fly the gliders.
    • Robin watches as Moon Shadow prepares squid for dinner. She claims she's not scared, though you can tell she's not familiar with the whole tentacle thing.
    • Robin nags Moon Shadow a bit to go fly gliders with her, but she hears the boys outside and seems to understand what's going on here.
    • Robin shells peas beside Moon Shadow.
    • Robin confesses a fear of thunder. She tells Moon Shadow that Jack (the bully with the freckles, remember?) is super-scared of being hit in the nose, or that's what his sister Maisie told her.
    • Moon Shadow considers for a moment and then goes outside.
    • An altercation goes down between Moon Shadow and Jack. Jack starts to chant that horrible Ching Chong Chinaman taunt, and Moon Shadow basically calls Jack stupid.
    • Moon Shadow punches Jack once, and Jack falls down on the ground. He stays down, to Moon Shadow's surprise. The boys behind Jack are stunned.
    • Moon Shadow helps Jack up. He realizes that Jack is a big bully that is all talk.
    • Moon Shadow and Jack have a pretty friendly chat (8.100-105). Moon Shadow senses that he won't be getting any trouble from the neighboring demon boys anymore.
    • One September night, Windrider, Moon Shadow, Robin, and Miss Whitlaw stargaze on the patio.
    • Robin shares her knowledge of Greek and Roman constellations. Windrider and Moon Shadow share their knowledge of Chinese constellations. They compare the myth of Altair and Lyre to the folktale of the Spinning Maid and the Cowherd (8.107-115).
    • Moon Shadow senses that the tragic love story of the Spinning Maid and the Cowherd hits too close to home, putting Windrider in a sad mood.
    • Miss Whitlaw senses this, too, so she changes the subject to the difference between constellations across cultures. She muses, "We see the same thing and yet find different truths" (8.120).
    • Moon Shadow and Miss Whitlaw distract Robin and Windrider by provoking them to compare different stars and stories.
  • Chapter 9

    The Dragon Wakes (December, 1905-April, 1906)

    • Moon Shadow and Windrider are saving up money in hopes of one day bringing Mother over to America. This requires more cash than just Mother's passage over though, since Windrider would probably need to go accompany her and bribe port people along the way.
    • The father and son are also saving up to open their own fix-it shop. Then they can qualify as merchants and legitimately bring Mother over.
    • It's about New Year's time; Chinese New Year is on the lunar calendar and usually a couple of months after the January 1 understanding of the New Year. Moon Shadow wishes that Father and Uncle would kiss and make up so they can celebrate with the Company. But it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
    • Moon Shadow and Robin smear honey on the picture of the Stove King – the bribe-the-gods-with-sweets tradition. Then they burn the picture in the stove and hang up a new picture of the Stove King over the stove.
    • Robin doesn't admit it, but she's come to believe in the tradition of the Stove King, too. She gets a new picture from Moon Shadow so she can honey-ize and burn the old picture of the Stove King.
    • April 5 marks the Feast of Pure Brightness, a day for visiting the dead and making offerings at their graves (9.8).
    • They visit the Tang people's cemetery, which the narrator describes as a temporary one since the bodies would hope to be buried in China.
    • The stable gets a visit from Old Deerfoot. They chew the fat over tea until Old Deerfoot brings up the subject of the Feast of Pure Brightness.
    • Old Deerfoot asks about Windrider's plans and slyly mentions that Uncle Bright Star will be going to the Feast. Windrider agrees to see him and takes him up on the offer for a ride.
    • Hand Clap, Red Rabbit, Lefty, White Deer, and Uncle arrive. Some good-humored teasing is exchanged.
    • Moon Shadow is happy but suddenly anxious, thinking about the dead and all. He worries that things are too good, that he's been tricked into a fantasy that he's going to wake up from.
    • Thirteen days after the Feast of Pure Brightness, the earthquake strikes. Yes, the earthquake, as in the actual San Francisco earthquake of 1906.
    • Moon Shadow is shaken awake at 5am. Windrider hastily leads him outside into the open backyard. All around them they see buildings collapsing and they hear the chaotic sounds of things moving without instruction.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow go to check on Miss Whitlaw. Moon Shadow sees Jack and Maisie's family in a building with its walls crumbling.
    • Miss Whitlaw's building seems sturdy enough to go inside. Robin sits bundled up, staring at the destruction through the front door.
    • The crew sees that the whole street has been decimated. It's only thanks to the handiwork of Miss Whitlaw's dad that their building is sound.
    • Miss Whitlaw decides they must try to rescue any survivors.
    • Before they get started, they decide to change out of their sleepwear.
    • When father and son emerge, they see the wreckage. Moon Shadow hears someone compare their street to the moon (9.69).
    • Survivors, injured in mind and body, surface. Moon Shadow remarks on how some are dressed, choosing to save extravagant clothes and stepping out in ball gowns and penguin suits (9.72).
    • A healthy-looking man walks on and refuses to help the survivors even after Windrider calls for his help for the others (9.74-5). Several others walk on without turning back.
    • Miss Whitlaw and Robin appear. Miss Whitlaw has Windrider bust a chair for its legs. Each of the four of them takes a chair leg for a club.
    • Miss Whitlaw takes one side of the street, Windrider takes the other. They rally survivors to help clear up the mess and pull out any buried and injured survivors.
    • Miss Whitlaw finds some pickaxes to help people sort through the rubble.
    • Windrider works under a tenuous wall. He orders Moon Shadow to work elsewhere since it's a dangerous spot, likely to crumble any second. Moon Shadow insists that together the work will go faster.
    • Moon Shadow sees five of Miss Whitlaw's elderly tenants exit the building with suitcases. Moon Shadow is kind of repulsed by how old they look, calling them "old bags" who would "curdle milk" (9.101). Nice kid, we know.
    • Moon Shadow and Windrider continue to sort through the mound beside the weak wall. Miss Whitlaw delegates tasks and organizes people, winning Moon Shadow's awe. As the narrator says, "Miss Whitlaw was everywhere, encouraging here, helping there. I wondered again at the strength within her slender body" (9.102).
    • Miss Whitlaw asks Robin and Moon Shadow to prepare sandwiches and tea for everyone.
    • Robin and Moon Shadow quickly see that the water pump is not working. Uh-oh.
    • The two kiddies make sandwiches with ham and cheese, which Moon Shadow amusingly likens to cow's urine. They get the buckets of water from each of the tenants' rooms.
    • By lunch time, they have saved twenty people. Maisie and Jack have yet to be seen. They bundle up the three injured people in Miss Whitlaw's house and send a boy to find a doctor.
    • Someone tries to steal Miss Whitlaw's chest of moneys, but Windrider kicks some butt. Miss Whitlaw requests that Windrider let the thief go, explaining that the "earthquake'll bring out the best and the worst in folk" (9.121).
    • Windrider is troubled, realizing that a shortage of water will be really bad. But he tries to mollify (comfort) Moon Shadow by figuring that it would only be really bad if there are uncontainable fires.
    • But then a car drives by and announces a fire south of Market. Uh-oh.
    • This news panics people, and most of those who were helping find injured survivors drop their efforts and run to save themselves. Miss Whitlaw calls to stop them, but they continue to leave.
    • Windrider and Miss Whitlaw figure they have done their best.
    • The boy sent to retrieve a doctor returns, with no doctor.
    • The narrator speaks from the future and comments that the fire is historically known as the Ham and Eggs fire (9.140). Let this be a public service announcement not to use your stove after a really bad earthquake.
    • Soldiers in the army come down the street and suggest the crew go to Golden Gate Park with the injured people. The sergeant advises them where they can get a wagon, and Windrider returns with it.
    • While Robin, Miss Whitlaw, and Moon Shadow wait for Windrider, they see lots of hooligans scavenging the streets for loot.
    • Windrider holds onto his club. Miss Whitlaw holds onto her father's pistol.
    • At Golden Gate Park, the crew runs into Lefty, who reports that the Company men are fine. Uncle Bright Star, however, refuses to leave the building. Lefty asks for Windrider's help.
    • Lefty produces a basket of chicken and rice wine for the group to enjoy.
    • Lefty meets Miss Whitlaw and is impressed with how un-ugly she is, for a demoness.
    • The crew goes back to Miss Whitlaw's to retrieve her possessions, including the stained glass window. Lefty is also in awe of its beauty.
    • Miss Whitlaw and the group share a sad moment when they realize that Miss Whitlaw will most likely never again see the house she grew up in.
    • The narrator speaks from his present to confirm that Miss Whitlaw's house will burn in the fire that night.
    • The crew separates, with Windrider, Moon Shadow, and Lefty leaving to go to Uncle. Miss Whitlaw and Robin will return to the Park, where Windrider agrees they will meet again.
    • The men watch as Miss Whitlaw and Robin drive the wagon on. Robin carries the pistol.
    • Lefty remarks that Miss Whitlaw seems nice, and Windrider says, "She is a superior woman" (9.193).
  • Chapter 10

    Aroused (April-May, 1906)

    • Moon Shadow marvels at the loads of rich people on the streets looking just as tattered and scared as poor folk.
    • Lefty warns Moon Shadow and Windrider to watch out for soldiers, saying that they'll shoot anyone, whether or not they are looting. Lefty says that the soldiers often are the ones looting.
    • When Windrider claims that the demon soldiers were kind to them, Lefty reminds him that they were with a demoness (Miss Whitlaw) before, but without demon friends with them, they would be treated differently.
    • The three men hide from a troop of soldiers passing by. Moon Shadow sees that they are drunk and weighed down with stolen objects.
    • Lefty, Moon Shadow and Windrider arrive in the Tang people's village and find the Company's building still standing. They thank the good feng shui of the building (the words for wind and water that gauge how happy the universe is with the layout) for that.
    • A pistol-clad Uncle offers them wine upon arrival. Hand Clap and White Deer are in the park, making sure their wine collection is safe.
    • Uncle explains that most of the Company's possessions have been taken to Oakland, a city across the San Francisco Bay, on a friend's boat.
    • Lefty, Moon Shadow and Windrider pack up the wagon. Hand Clap returns with Red Rabbit, who is moving fast for once.
    • They hear cannons. Lefty and Hand Clap explain that people are blasting houses to clear the way from catching fire.
    • Suddenly there's a huge explosion, and Uncle curses the demons for using too much dynamite. We learn that Uncle Bright Star worked on what would come to be known as the Transcontinental Railroad (10.25).
    • The explosions have brought fire to the wooden buildings in the Tang people's village. They sense that the Company building will be burned to the ground before long.
    • Uncle stubbornly insists on staying with the building. The rest of the men vow to stay with him. This is exactly what it takes to get Uncle to change his mind. To save the lives of his best friends, he must save his own.
    • The crew load Uncle's throne onto the wagon. Uncle looks in pain and sorrow at the building for the last time.
    • The men arrive at Golden Gate Park again, where soldiers have set up a system of bread distribution, latrines, and cooking fires. Moon Shadow notes that some demons are good.
    • The crew goes to a luxurious purple tent in the area where most Tang people have set up camp. Uncle asked for the fancy purple fabric to be used for the tent.
    • Hand Clap lines up for bread for the group. Father, Lefty, and Moon Shadow unload the wagon. White Deer starts a fire.
    • Windrider asks Uncle for permission to invite guests to their dinner. Uncle agrees in his snide but deep-hearted kind of way.
    • Moon Shadow and Windrider go find Miss Whitlaw and Robin. They help them set up their tent.
    • Miss Whitlaw has saved food for Moon Shadow and Windrider. Instead of accepting, Windrider invites the two ladies to dinner with the Company. Windrider insists on watching the Whitlaws' camping ground while the other three return to the Company. This way, Miss Whitlaw doesn't have to selflessly skip out; Windrider does instead.
    • Miss Whitlaw and Robin talk about how the tents remind them of going to the circus. But then the three of them see the city from afar, ablaze with ongoing fires and covered in ash.
    • Miss Whitlaw gives the Company plum brandy that she has made from her father's recipe. Uncle accepts the present and heartily enjoys its fragrant drink.
    • Uncle invites Miss Whitlaw to sit in his throne for dinner. Whoa, we know. Then Miss Whitlaw impresses them all by asking to use chopsticks.
    • White Deer's spread is completely delicious (10.64). They finish the meal with brandy and the singing of songs, reciting of poems, and acting out of stories about Monkey.
    • Three days later, word comes that the firefighters are succeeding in taming the flames. It begins to rain and the tent gets kind of sad and wet. This makes the Company men nervous since Uncle is super-cranky when it rains. Plus, if he catches the cold, it's just bad news for everyone. Remember that this man is in his eighties at the turn of the twentieth century!
    • Windrider cleverly asks Uncle to go with him to deliver apples to the Whitlaws. The Company encourages him, and he agrees.
    • Miss Whitlaw thanks them for the apples and invites Uncle to sit in one of her nicer chairs. Miss Whitlaw and Uncle bond over a conversation about working on the railroad. (Miss Whitlaw's cousin worked on the railroad, too, starting from the east instead of the west like Uncle.) Miss Whitlaw asks Uncle about the Middle Kingdom, too. Uncle digs Miss Whitlaw by the end of it.
    • Three days later, while Moon Shadow and Windrider are visiting the Whitlaws, soldiers come and demand the "Chinamen" leave (10.87). Miss Whitlaw stands up for her guests, but the soldiers insist and Windrider doesn't want to get Miss Whitlaw in trouble.
    • The soldiers gather all the Tang people and march them around San Francisco. Small portions of bread and water are reluctantly handed out to the Tang people.
    • The Company isn't given enough food to share some with Red Rabbit, so Hand Clap goes with him to the south. Uncle's having a rough time but stays in order to help lead.
    • Throughout the tiring days-long parade, the numbers of Tang people dwindle from 25,000 to a couple hundred. Many, disgusted by their treatment, have left the San Francisco area. Moon Shadow explains that the few hundred left were the "stubbornest, orneriest individuals, who were getting tired of being pushed around" (10.103).
    • They return to Golden Gate Park and pitch their sad-looking purple tent. Windrider is pissed off that the Tang people are being so mistreated by the authorities and wants to do something about it.
    • Uncle returns from speaking with the other leaders of the community. They have decided to demand the right to return to the Tang people's region. If the demon authorities continue to resist, then the Tang people will leave the area and the demons will have to do without the Tang people's businesses and money.
    • The plan works and the Tang people get the same right as the demons to rebuild on their old land.
    • The Tang community comes together and people from all over contribute their building skills and money to fix up the Tang people's town.
    • Moon Shadow is happy to be part of this community project. He senses that Windrider is less invested, however.
    • Moon Shadow and Windrider go to wish the Whitlaws well before they leave for Oakland. Miss Whitlaw has found a job as a housekeeper for a demon household.
    • On the walk over, Windrider tells Moon Shadow that he wants the freedom that comes from flying. He is determined to make the dream of flying a reality, saying that they could make a living by selling tickets for flying shows.
    • Moon Shadow is saddened, feeling like he's losing both the Whitlaws and his own father.
    • They arrive at the Whitlaws camping grounds. Robin gives Moon Shadow her copy of "The Phoenix and the Carpet" by E. Nesbit. Moon Shadow only has Uncle's carving of Monkey to give to her.
    • The four of them go down to the Ferry Building together.
    • Miss Whitlaw encourages Windrider to pursue flying. Both she and Robin give Moon Shadow a kiss on the cheek. Not to spoil it for you, but this is maybe the sexiest part of the book.
    • That night, Windrider, Moon Shadow and Uncle sit together to have a serious talk. Windrider tells Uncle that he must pursue his dream.
    • Uncle is outraged, telling Windrider that he and his family will starve. Windrider replies, "It's time I thought of myself" (10.170). It's kind of a shocking statement, considering how tight the Company is.
    • Uncle one-ups Windrider. It looks like the discussion is over and Windrider has lost. But then, Moon Shadow speaks up: "I want to fly too, Father" (10.174).
    • Moon Shadow says that the flying dream will work if both he and Windrider get jobs. He promises to support him and decides to go with him.
    • Uncle Bright Star is furious. He orders Windrider and Moon Shadow to get away from him. Yep poignantly describes this heart-wrenching moment by writing: "Get away from me" (10.189).
    • Moon Shadow is sad that he and his father's relationship with Uncle went down the toilet, but he feels proud to be his dad's son.
  • Chapter 11

    Exile (May, 1906-September, 1906)

    • Moon Shadow and Windrider move to the foothills in Oakland. They use the Whitlaws' old wagon to move their stuff before selling the wagon for them.
    • The father and son duo move onto a plot of land that had once been a "rich estate belonging to the Esperanza family" (11.4). The land is a huge disorganized mess of untended orchards of apple, cherry, and apricot trees.
    • Windrider leads Moon Shadow to the barn next to a run-down mansion on the property. It reeks of horses, meaning it reeks of horse poo. Windrider gets to work with his loads of disinfectants. When that doesn't really work, they light incense in Uncle's cup. But even that doesn't block out the nasty odor.
    • Moon Shadow prepares to write a letter to Mother and Grandmother to tell them about the change in plans and location. Windrider is sad that Mother will be the laughingstock of the town when people learn that he's pursuing flying. But does that stop him? Nope.
    • Moon Shadow develops a new routine that includes his job as a grocery delivery boy. Moon Shadow and Father have made enough money to send some to Mother and Grandmother once a month.
    • Father has a job as a handyman, doing whatever he can get paid for. But most of it time, it sounds like he's working on models for flying.
    • In August they get a fatty envelope from the family in China. In it, Grandmother scolds Windrider for being so ridiculously idealistic. Mother sends a separate letter in the envelope for Moon Shadow's eyes alone. She asks him to love and support his father, even when everyone else is a doubter. Moon Shadow doesn't let his dad read the letter, upon his mom's request.
    • With fall and winter arriving, Moon Shadow really digs sitting outside and watching the fog sweep into the city. He likes seeing San Francisco being rebuilt, comparing the lights from the buildings to stars. Moon Shadow reflects that he did find his golden mountain in the Company, in the Whitlaws, and in working toward Father's dream. The golden mountain just wasn't in the form that he thought it'd be in.
    • Three years pass. The roughing lifestyle is hard on Moon Shadow, who is always busy and tired and scraping for money.
    • Moon Shadow and Windrider go to visit the Whitlaws three Sundays out of every month. Happily, Miss Whitlaw is as resilient and resourceful as ever.
    • Sometimes the Whitlaws visit the Lees. They help fly Windrider's flying contraptions.
    • Windrider's airplane-in-the-works is dubbed Dragonwings by Father and Moon Shadow. Finally in the summer of 1909, it's finished.
    • Moon Shadow goes into the specifics of airplane talk: the propellers, the horizontal rudders, the twelve horsepower motor, and banking (11.50-58). There's no cockpit like a modern airplane; instead, Windrider would lie on his stomach on the bottom wing.
    • Windrider builds on the Wrights' plane construction by adding wheels to the bottom of the plane. Sounds like a good idea.
    • Moon Shadow admits to us readers that he thinks his dad is kind of impractical. Windrider figures that they'll be able to make money by having flying shows and selling tickets, but there is no real business plan or guarantee that the airplane will work or be durable enough for multiple flights.
    • Moon Shadow is also kind of grumpy because he misses his mom. He wishes that Father would not only pursue his dream of flying but also their family dream of bringing Mother over to America.
    • Moon Shadow might be going nuts because he suspects that he's being watched all the time.
    • The Lees paint up Dragonwings to look like a dragon, complete with flaps with eyes that lift in the wind.
    • The Whitlaws come to visit and bring wine to christen the airplane Dragonwings. Remember, though, that the Whitlaws still have no idea about Father's dream.
    • It's too rainy to fly Dragonwings until mid-September.
    • One day Moon Shadow runs back early from work to find Black Dog in the barn, poking around.
    • Black Dog is a major jerk about Windrider and Moon Shadow's joint efforts to make the airplane. He ridicules Moon Shadow.
    • Moon Shadow gets that Black Dog is just jealous that he doesn't have a dream to believe in like the Lees do. Black Dog doesn't like this and pulls out his knife. He threatens to cut off Moon Shadow's nose, ears, and tongue. Or testicle.
    • Instead of screaming for help, Moon Shadow maintains his cool and challenges Black Dog to do it. Black Dog has him on the floor and demands to know where the money is. Moon Shadow doesn't tell, saying that Dragonwings is more important.
    • Windrider appears and throws the money at Black Dog to save Moon Shadow's life.
    • Black Dog jumps at the money and runs away. Moon Shadow curses him. Windrider doesn't go after him out of respect for Uncle. Instead, he reports Black Dog to the sheriff.
    • All of the money is gone, so the Lees are pretty worried about rent and money to order wagons to pull Dragonwings up the hill. No one will lend them money because Father is seen as the "Crazy Chinaman" (11.111).
    • The Lees plan to leave the barn, seeing as how they can't pay rent. They also can't move Dragonwings with just the two of them, so they prepare to cut their heartstrings and leave it.
    • Moon Shadow calls Miss Whitlaw to tell them that plans have changed so she and Robin shouldn't come to visit the next day. He doesn't want to bother Miss Whitlaw with their money troubles, so he doesn't go into details. Moon Shadow hangs up before Miss Whitlaw can be too sweet with concern.
    • Disheartened, but not without hope, Moon Shadow and Windrider go to the top of the hill and look out over Oakland and San Francisco They agree that they'll build a version 2.0 of Dragonwings.
  • Chapter 12

    Dragonwings (September, 1909-June, 1910)

    • Moon Shadow wakes up before Father does. There's a knock at the door.
    • Hand Clap stands at the door, with the rest of the Company and the wagon behind him.
    • Moon Shadow is so happy to see them, he hugs Uncle.
    • Uncle tells how the Company heard of the Lees' trouble and showed up to help with the flight of Dragonwings. They are determined that they can do it, with Red Rabbit and their one wagon.
    • Windrider wakes up with a start. Uncle insists that he let the Company loan him rent money. In fact, the Company has already dropped off the money on the way to the barn.
    • Windrider gives the Company a tour and run-down of Dragonwings while they eat meat dumplings.
    • The group tie themselves with rope to Dragonwings, and prepare to pull the airplane up the steep hill. The walk up the hill gives them a hard time. Moon Shadow has thoughts of hating Dragonwings for being so d--n heavy. But then Uncle begins a chant that the Tang men did while building the railroad. The Company joins in on this chant and makes it to the top.
    • Miss Whitlaw and Robin catch up to them, glad to have made it in time. Apparently, Miss Whitlaw contacted Uncle through the grapevine and found out that the first flight of Dragonwings was still on. Father is stunned that Uncle used a telephone.
    • Robin presents the gift of wine and they all take a sip.
    • Robin positions herself at the left propeller, and Moon Shadow mans the right. Windrider sits his belly down in the flying contraption.
    • Windrider and Dragonwings take flight. Father is able to bank the airplane and go in circles above the Company. They are all ecstatic and cheering.
    • Moon Shadow runs down the hill alongside Dragonwings, so proud that Father is actually flying.
    • Everyone's super-excited until part of the airplane's frame breaks, sending the propeller flying. Dragonwings crashes and Windrider is hurled out of it.
    • Uncle inspects Windrider and can tell that he will survive, but has a broken leg and ribs. Robin runs for a doctor.
    • Everyone else cleans up the wreckage. They get Windrider onto a wagon. He is conked out, and the doctor fixes him up.
    • Windrider wakes up. He says that, in the air, he realized that his family means more to him than flying. "There's more to being a dragon than just flying," he says (12.131).
    • Uncle and the rest of the Company ask Windrider to be a partner in the Company. Uncle says that he never thought he'd see a man flying, and maybe he was wrong about disapproving of bringing Mother over. Lefty explains that he is also already a partner. Uncle convinces Windrider to let him lend the one thousand dollars to buy into the partnership, no interest. Windrider accepts.
    • Time passes and Black Dog is found in an alley with his throat slit and wallet stolen.
    • Uncle is very upset, as you'd expect. Moon Shadow reflects that Uncle sees Windrider as a "spiritual son" (12.150). The two of them only got in tiffs because Uncle was upset when Windrider disobeyed him.
    • Windrider and Moon Shadow move into the Company's new building. Windrider heals.
    • The Lees continue contact with the Whitlaws, visiting every Sunday.
    • Windrider goes to the Middle Kingdom to bring back Mother.
    • Moon Shadow goes visit the Whitlaws in Oakland and sits on a swing with Robin.
    • Moon Shadow and Robin reflect on how lucky they are. They both race to get Miss Whitlaw's fresh-baked cookies. Robin wins.
  • Afterword

    • Laurence Yep, the author of Dragonwings, intervenes here to clarify some points. He specifies what he means by Tang as the dynasty that ruled from 618 to 907 A.D. Yep suggests that "Tang" might be more accurately written "T'ang" (Afterword.1).
    • The author shares that the book was based on accounts of a young Chinese flier, Fung Joe Guey. Yep also shares that little is known about Fung Joe Guey and other early Chinese Americans. He has tried to imagine what life was like for these individuals that history sometimes forgets or lumps into a faceless group. He's also tried to be true to the time period.
    • Yep writes that this book was meant as an intervention against other stories that are written about Chinese people in America, namely Dr. Fu Manchu and Charlie Chan, both of which are characters that have created stereotypes about Chinese and Chinese American people.