Study Guide

Dragonwings Chapter 8

By Laurence Yep

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.