Study Guide

Dragonwings Chapter 11

By Laurence Yep

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.