Neither Pearl nor Winnie attend the burial and buffet that follows, and instead Pearl takes Winnie home. While at Winnie's house, Winnie gives Pearl the gift that Auntie Du had left for Pearl in her will (an altar for the Kitchen God), and Winnie tells Tessa and Cleo the story of the Kitchen God. The story of the Kitchen God is the story of a man named Zhang who had everything he could possibly want, including a wonderful wife named Guo. Zhang, however, begins to have an affair with a woman named Lady Li, who eventually expels Guo from her own house. Lady Li, however, after two years, leaves Zhang for another man, and Zhang is left a loveless beggar. It is at this point that Zhang is taken in by a woman, but when he finds out that the woman who took him in is actually his wife, Guo, he throws himself into the fireplace and dies. It was then that he became the Kitchen God, made to watch over everyone and tell the Jade Emperor in heaven who deserved good luck and who deserved bad luck.

Winnie explains, however, that the Kitchen God must be kept happy with offerings and that she does not believe this is the kind of luck Pearl needs, so she removes the picture of the God and promises to fill the altar with the image of another god. After this Phil, Tessa, and Pearl head home.

It is in this chapter that Winnie begins to narrate the novel. She tells a story about Helen having bought a fish that was on sale, even against Winnie's advice. The fish, however, turned out to be delicious. This story is juxtaposed against one of Winnie's own stories about the time she had bought a fish so fresh it was still alive when she purchased it for her husband Jimmy Louie, so that he could have a special meal. Jimmy Louie, however, choked on a fish bone and had to be taken to the hospital. Winnie tells these two stories in order to show us that she has not had luck like Helen has enjoyed throughout her life.

She then begins to tell pieces of anecdotes that indicate she has many secrets. She touches upon many subjects. For instance, she mentions a horrible marriage to a man named Wen Fu and another marriage she had, stupidly, turned down. She talks of dead children and of the fact that Helen is not really her sister- in-law—as her friends and family believe—or a sister—as the US immigration believes. The chapter then ends with Winnie remarking that she and Helen had kept each other's secrets and that now Helen wanted to expose them.


From the beginning of the novel the issues that arise out of being an American born of Chinese parents is evident. Pearl feels more American than she does Chinese and is, in fact, married to an American. Her children respond better to fast food than to the jellyfish served at the engagement party; the jellyfish actually upsets Cleo, who is only appeased when Auntie Helen points to another dish, telling them it is just like McDonald's meat.

The gulf between Pearl's Asian and American selves becomes most evident at the funeral where she feels "silly, taking part in a ritual that makes no sense" to her and one that she cannot explain, even when asked by her husband to explain the customs of the Buddhist ceremony. Pearl knows as much about the lucky money and the candy handed out at the funeral as Phil does. In fact, it is Bao-Bao who explains, claiming that the lucky money is like "insurance in case you pick up bad vibes here" and that the candy is simply to eat for good luck. This, in itself, is an Americanized explanation of an Asian tradition, which makes sense coming from Bao-Bao, who is, like Pearl, caught between two worlds.