Study Guide

The Orphan Master's Son Part 2, Pages 293-305

By Adam Johnson

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Part 2, Pages 293-305

  • Here comes the real version of what happened in the Revolutionary Martyr's Cemetery.
  • Sun Moon and Ga head out to honor Sun Moon's great-uncle, and Ga promises to cook his favorite meal for them. They tie Brando on a tree in the woods so as not to offend others in the cemetery.
  • Ga immediately recognizes and knows the story of Sun Moon's great-uncle. In fact, he knows the stories of all the martyrs. And as he looks at them, he thinks of all the boys in the orphanage who bore their names.
  • Ga feels comforted when looking at the bronze busts of these grown men. It's like all the orphans, even the ones who died horrible deaths, were allowed to live until they were grown.
  • When Ga reaches the bust of Pak Jun Do, there's an internal standoff. He challenges the face of bronze, telling it that he is his own man.
  • Sun Moon can see that something's going on and asks if there's special significance in that martyr for Ga. He tells her no—but it was important to a guy he used to know.
  • Ga takes Sun Moon and the kids into the woods to show them how to cook his very favorite meal: a fish soup. He shows the children how to catch fish with a shirt, how to gather the ingredients, and how to build a fire.
  • Ga tells the story of how he used to make this meal when he was allowed the freedom of logging duty. Sun Moon wonders about his parents, who should have been in the camp with him. Ga tells her that he had no parents to worry about at that time.
  • Sun Moon tells Ga that she only has a mother—retired in Wonsan. Ga begins to question how long she's been there. Sun Moon says her mother hasn't written, because she's too busy.
  • It's an awkward moment for Ga as he unconvincingly tries to reassure Sun Moon that probably nothing is wrong. But then Ga tells her not to believe the rumors about Wonsan.
  • The problem is, Sun Moon hadn't heard any rumors.
  • Ga reflects on the value of self-deceit, and he thinks that losing his illusions was the hardest part about being in the prison camp.
  • Ga had a moment when all of his comforting lies fell apart. This happened on a stoning day, when the whole camp was lined up at the river to stone a man who'd tried to escape.
  • Each inmate had to take a shot at the prisoner, who was buried waist high in the dirt.
  • Ga had helped Mongnan down to the site, and when it was their turn, Ga realized it was the Captain buried in the sand.
  • Ga ran to the Captain to speak with him instead of throwing a rock, but the Captain only told him he needed to get himself out of the camp. Mongnan pleaded with Ga to throw the rock.
  • The soldiers fired a warning shot at Ga, and he finally threw the rock, hard enough to put his friend out of his misery.
  • After that, Ga was a mess. Mongnan realized that the Captain had been a father figure to him—and then she called him out about being an orphan (stop lying to yourself, boy).
  • Mongnan tells Ga that it is time to drop his illusions and figure out a way to get out.
  • Back in the woods outside the cemetery, Ga refocuses on what he's doing. He takes his camera out and snaps a picture of his little "family," as if preparing her for something.
  • And then the soup's ready. Ga lets Brando off the leash to hunt for his own food. He tries to talk to the children about what happened to their real father, but Sun Moon is not into it.
  • Ga tells Sun Moon that not knowing will be bad for them. But Sun Moon is not ready to take away her children's illusions.
  • At that moment, there is a noise in the bush. The boy sends Brando to hunt.
  • Then a scream is heard. When Ga finds the dog, he sees him keeping a whole starving family at bay.
  • Sun Moon is shocked to see that these people are actually starving to death—but the family denies that things are so bad.
  • Sun Moon wants to give these people her diamond ring to help feed them, but Ga stops her: they will be killed for having such a thing. They need practical items instead, so Sun Moon and Ga give over shoes, boots, earrings—and the good pot of soup.
  • The family would like the dog, too. Remember, those are good eating.
  • But Ga says no.
  • Just to point out, there's no lovemaking scene in this version of the story. When Sun Moon and Ga tuck the kids in that night, Sun Moon gets to work on the revision of the script.
  • But Ga is bothered by something. He has to tell Sun Moon the truth about Wonsan. The old people of North Korea do not go there for retirement. They just disappear.
  • At that moment, Sun Moon hates Ga for stripping away her illusions.
  • The next morning, Sun Moon is in a foul, depressed mood—as you might expect of a woman who just learned that her mother probably died a horrible death.
  • Buc visits to shoot the breeze with Ga. He tells Ga that the Dear Leader wants to give a branding demonstration to the Americans. Eek.
  • Ga knows that he's dead meat in a short time, but Buc seems to think it's smooth sailing from here out, since Kim Jong Il had publicly declared him the real Ga.
  • Ga tells Buc that he's found the real Ga's laptop and that there are maps and blueprints on it that he can't read. Buc tells him that these are maps of uranium mines.
  • Buc offers to go over the laptop with Ga, but Ga tells him about the disturbing photos, including the terrible one of Buc.
  • Buc wants to make one thing clear: Commander Ga did not actually rape him. He tells Ga the story of being beaten into submission in the office.
  • Buc would really like to know how imposter Ga killed the real Ga—so impostor Ga tells him.
  • It happened in the deepest level of the mines.
  • Suddenly, the real Commander Ga appeared and ordered impostor Ga (then a prisoner) to grab another prisoner and hold him.
  • Then Commander Ga stripped off the prisoner's clothes and instructed him on how to rape a man to see if he's "really a man" (i.e., heterosexual). If you grab him, and he's aroused, then he's not.
  • Commander Ga tried it out on soon-to-be impostor Ga, telling him that he respected him because he was trying to avoid him. But it didn't go well.
  • Commander Ga said that soon, they would both have the same scar on their souls.
  • The two began fighting—and then impostor Ga kicked out the light.
  • The impostor had the advantage in the dark, so he took it.

The Orphan Master's Son Part 2, Pages 293-305 Study Group

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