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The Bonesetter’s Daughter

Amy Tan
Characters

LuLing Liu Young

Characters LuLing Liu Young

LuLing is motivated by conflicting desires to keep her past a secret but also atone for the guilt she feels about it. When LuLing moves to America, she wants to leave her unhappy memories and sense that she is cursed behind. She believes that she can have a fresh start, but her dreams of a happy new life are shattered when her second husband dies early in their marriage. LuLing has now lost two husbands, and she is left to raise a child alone with few economic resources. These circumstances cause LuLing to believe that she is being punished for her failure to love and respect Precious Auntie. She blames herself for her mother’s death and for her inability to give her mother’s bones a safe resting place. LuLing wants to keep her past behind her, but she is tormented by regrets every day. This inner conflict explains the erratic behavior Ruth observes growing up, which often hurts her. LuLing hides the truth of her past life but also gives clues to the reason for her obsession with the past when she tries to communicate with the spirit of Precious Auntie.

LuLing is only able to find peace once her daughter fully knows her history. Ruth never explicitly tells her mother that she has read the manuscript, but her behavior toward LuLing becomes gentler and more compassionate. LuLing senses this shift in her daughter and becomes calmer and more agreeable. She even reaches out to spontaneously apologize to Ruth for the ways she hurt her as a child. Even though LuLing no longer has the cognitive ability to fully understand or remember what happened, she can understand the shift between herself and her daughter on an emotional level. In addition to a better relationship with Ruth, LuLing has the first truly intimate relationship she has had in years with Mr. Tang. He knows LuLing’s past, and he admires and loves her because of who she is. LuLing has lived with shame and a sense of unworthiness for so long that it is profoundly healing for her to have a companion who shows no judgment or disappointment.