Study Guide

Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet Chapter 47

By Jamie Ford

Chapter 47

V-J Day (1945)

  • After that day, Henry and Ethel start dating seriously. Because she's a Chinese girl from a good family, Henry's family immediately approves of her.
  • Henry's plans for China are still in place, though, so he'll have to leave Ethel behind and ask her to wait for him—just like Keiko asked him to wait for her.
  • Now that they've been dating for five months, Henry feels comfortable and happy with Ethel. He's glad that he has her in his life.
  • One day when Henry is hanging out with Sheldon and Ethel, something amazing happens: Horns and bells start sounding. The war is over at long last. Yay.
  • Ethel wraps her arms around Henry and he kisses her. They're just part of a swarming crowd of people embracing their loved ones.
  • Spontaneously, Henry leans down and asks Ethel if she'll marry him. She starts to cry and says that she will—and that she'll wait for him while he's at school in China.
  • In that instant, though, Henry sees something across the street: a girl looking directly at him. He's pretty sure it's Keiko, but when he rubs his eyes, she disappears.
  • As he walks home, he hears his mother's voice yelling and realizes that she's not celebrating. Nope, something is wrong.
  • When he gets inside, the doctor is there again and his mother tells him that his father doesn't have much time left—he's just hanging on so that he can say goodbye to Henry.
  • Henry kneels by his father and tells him that he's here and that he has good news for his father: He's going to marry Ethel, the girl that his parents love so much.
  • Then his father says something strange: "I did it for you." It takes Henry a moment to realize what he means, but then he understands.
  • His father was the one who made sure his letters never made it to Keiko, so that she thought Henry had forgotten about her.
  • When his father passes away, Henry is still so angry that he can't even look at him or his crying mother. He bolts outside and runs to Keiko's old apartment.
  • Her family isn't there, so he continues toward the Panama Hotel, frantically looking for her face in the crowd.
  • But then he turns around and sees Ethel standing behind him. She's worried about him and wants to make sure he's okay.
  • That's when Henry knows what he has to do: He has to let go of Keiko and go to China. And then he has to be good and faithful to Ethel.

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