Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 5, 2023
November 28, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
See discount terms and conditions.
Doc Hata narrates the events of A Gesture Life from the novel’s present time, in 1993.
The narrator, Doc Hata, speaks in the first person about past events as well as events unfolding in the present. Doc Hata narrates from his own subjective perspective, commenting on his life and experience and speculating about the lives and experiences of others.
Franklin “Doc” Hata
The novel’s main conflict plays out in the tumultuous relationship between Doc Hata and his adopted daughter, Sunny. Doc Hata recalls the various stages of their strained family dynamics and his trouble raising such a willful, angry, and rebellious youth.
Doc Hata recollects his failed relationships with K, a Korean comfort woman he met during World War II, and Mary Burns, an American woman he dated while Sunny was young. In the present time, he also strikes up a tentative friendship with Anne Hickey, a woman who bought Doc Hata’s now-failing medical supply business with her husband. Even as Doc Hata’s friendships with women in the past and present shed light on his inability to develop sustained relationships, he struggles to connect with Sunny through her son, Tommy.
A series of tragic and near-tragic accidents take place in quick succession, including Anne Hickey’s fatal car accident, James Hickey’s gruesome leg injury at his wife’s funeral, Tommy’s near drowning at the beach, and Renny’s heart attack. The confluence of events convinces Doc Hata that he stands “at the vortex of bad happenings,” and that he must take decisive action to prevent further harm to those around him.
Doc Hata acknowledges his deep regret about arranging for Sunny to have a late-term abortion when she was eighteen. Though he broaches the subject with Sunny, he doesn’t tell her that he assisted the doctor who performed the surgery.
Lee uses foreshadowing subtly in the novel, and it usually takes the form of a veiled reference to a particularly important or traumatic past event, such as Sunny’s abortion or K’s murder, that Doc Hata will not elaborate on until later in the novel.