Summary: Chapter 10

Doc Hata drives through downtown Bedley Run on a Saturday morning and admires “the prosperity and subtle industry of its citizens.” He sees a for sale sign in the window of his old store and notes that the windows in the upstairs apartments are dark. He wonders how Patrick is doing and thinks again about what awful accident will have to befall another child in order for Patrick to get the heart he needs. The sale of the store perturbs Doc Hata. He wanted to make a lasting mark on Bedley Run, but now that his legacy is for sale, he feels like he himself is disappearing.

Ever since he returned from the hospital, Liv has arranged to send him curated meals from restaurants around town. He enjoys the meals, and he thinks about how much he had shut himself off from others after Sunny left.

One evening, Renny came by to check in and encourage Doc Hata to get back to his old routines as soon as possible. Doc Hata knew that he hadn’t been going on his usual daily walks and swims, and he wondered what Renny must think about the various messes around the house. He reflected that he’s always been active and vigilant such that he’s never needed help maintaining his home, but at that point, he understood how quickly everyday messes can accumulate. Before he left, Renny helped Doc Hata sort through his pile of mail, which included several cards from community members.

Back in the present, Doc Hata drives to the Ebbington Center Mall, where Sunny works. The parking lot is deserted, both because of the time of day and because the mall itself is failing. In contrast to Bedley Run and its prosperious commercial atmosphere, the mall feels leaden and stagnant, a place “where people wait and linger under the fluorescent lights and kill time in any way they can.”

Doc Hata recalls that when Sally Como had mentioned seeing Sunny, his mind had flashed to an image of Sunny when she first arrived in the United States. He remembers feeling disappointed because, though he’d been promised a girl from a Korean family, Sunny’s hair and skin color indicated that she had other ancestry mixed into her family tree. He wonders if their difficult relationship stemmed from this first meeting when Sunny may have sensed his hesitance.

Doc Hata approaches the clothing store where Sunny works, and he approves of its tidiness. He doesn’t see Sunny at first, so he approaches a cashier, who tells him she’s due to arrive soon.

Instead of waiting, Doc Hata leaves the store. He has a coughing fit, and after a woman helps him find a place to rest, he feels relieved to have avoided revisiting his difficult memories about Sunny. But then he notices a daycare center, and he sees Sunny inside with a young boy. When she comes out, she sees him and, afraid her son will notice them, tells Doc Hata to meet her in the food court. They have a cordial conversation. Doc Hata complements her on her managerial position, and Sunny tells him about her son, Tommy. Doc Hata asks to meet him, and Sunny reluctantly agrees, though she doesn’t want him to know that Doc Hata is his grandfather.

As he leaves the mall after his pleasant reunion with his daughter, Doc Hata wonders if love truly conquers all or if someone like him will forever remain “unvanquished.”

Analysis: Chapter 10

When Doc Hata sees that Sunny Medical Supply is for sale, he experiences a resurgence of the sensation that he is disappearing. He first discussed a similar feeling in Chapter 2, when he noted that he has become such a familiar fixture in Bedley Run that others, taking him for granted, barely seem to notice him anymore. Whereas his earlier concern related to how others viewed him in the present, his current concern relates to the status of his future legacy in town. His goal in establishing his medical supply store was to build a business that would not only establish his good reputation but also enshrine his legacy for years to come. In other words, he hoped that Sunny Medical Supply would survive and thrive long after his retirement and thereby keep his public memory alive. But with the failure and sale of his old store, Doc Hata realizes that he is quickly aging out of social life and therefore out of the community’s collective memory. This sensation of disappearance triggers his realization that he’s spent his life shut off from others, and it drives his desire to reconnect with Sunny.

Although elsewhere in the novel Doc Hata has commented on the class differences between Bedley Run and Ebbington, Chapter 10 juxtaposes these townships in a way that introduces an opposition between success and failure, industry and indolence. After getting in his car, Doc Hata drives through the downtown area of Bedley Run, which he finds full of shoppers and diners, bustling about in a way that suggests vigorous commerce and economic prosperity. He keeps driving and arrives sooner than expected at the Ebbington Center Mall. Doc Hata encounters a nearly empty parking lot and a financially struggling mall half empty of stores and sparsely populated with people sitting around with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Whereas Bedley Run possess the energy and shine of industry and success, Ebbington appears to be a bastion of indolence and failure. The opposition between Bedley Run and Ebbington parallels the opposition between Doc Hata and Sunny, whom he’s come to visit. Sunny frequently worried that she’d never live up to Doc Hata’s standards of success. Such a worry eventually led her to abandon Bedley Run, and now she herself lives and works in Ebbington.

Doc Hata offers a further sign of his own internalized racism when he recounts his initial disappointment upon meeting Sunny. As the reader recalls from Chapter 4, when Doc Hata decided to adopt a child, he hoped that the adoption would bring his life a sense of “harmony and balance.” In order to ensure this feeling, he specifically requested to adopt a girl and that the girl come from a Korean family. Yet he remembers that when he first saw Sunny, he knew from the color of her skin and hair that she came from a mixed-race background. The disappointment he experienced upon realizing this demonstrates a misguided preoccupation with purity. Doc Hata’s desire for a racially pure daughter links to his own experiences with feeling out of place, both as a Korean child raised in a Japanese household and later as an Asian immigrant in the United States. In both cases, Doc Hata overcame his sense of non-belonging and racial difference by fully assimilating the behaviors and values of the environment he found himself in. Although his own assimilation had previously enabled him to feel like he fit in, Sunny’s racial impurity threatened that feeling.

At the conclusion of the chapter, Doc Hata worries that he might never have an authentic experience of love. Thinking about the unsigned card Sunny sent him after his hospital stay, Doc Hata wonders whether his story can end with love really conquering all or if he will forever remain “unvanquished.” Doc Hata’s use of the word “unvanquished” reveals his odd perception of the concept of love since it implies that to be loved requires the same kind of submission that occurs in war or battle, when a losing party submits to a victor. In this sense, remaining unvanquished would appear to be a worthy achievement. But Doc Hata uses this word ironically. As a lifelong bachelor, he might see his ability to remain unvanquished, or undefeated, by love as a good thing. However, given that a caring gesture from his own daughter sparked his thoughts about love, it seems clear that remaining unvanquished by love truly means that he has failed to share an authentic experience of love with the person he’s been closest to in his life.