Study Guide

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson Chapter 11

By Bette Bao Lord

Chapter 11

November: Moon Cakes Without Grandfather

  • It's time for the annual Mid-Autumn Festival, but Shirley and her family almost completely forget about it.
  • They can't believe they almost didn't remember—thankfully, Grandfather sent moon cakes.
  • They all feel sad because they miss their family back in China, and Shirley feels guilty eating the yummy moon cakes and begins to cry.
  • Her mom says they should pretend they're back in China, celebrating.
  • Each member of the family goes around and says what they'd be doing right at that moment if they were in China—what the house would look like, what it would smell like.
  • Then, Shirley retells one of Grandfather's stories for her parents. She wishes she were the girl in the story.
  • The story goes a little something like this:
  • Once upon a time, a guy owed a lot of luck to his friend. Both of their wives were pregnant, so they agreed that if they had a boy and a girl, they'd get their kids married one day.
  • The friend had to go away, but the betrothal was still intact.
  • The girl, born to the first guy, grew up and fell in love with a fisherman; she ran away with him and was happy, but she felt really guilty for abandoning her parents and her promise to marry her dad's pal's kid.
  • The fisherman and his wife return home after ten years. The hubby goes ahead to explain to his in-laws why he took their daughter away.
  • But the parents are mystified—their daughter has been with them all along, since her betrothed died. The fisherman's confused, but then two women appear—his daughter and their wife—and merge into one person wearing two dresses. She's literally two in one.
  • Shirley wonders if she'll ever get back to China to hang with her family again. Sigh.

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