Simple Summaries

The White Umbrella

Gish Jen

·      “When I was twelve, my mother went to work without telling me or my little sister.”

·      Lees = other Chinese family in town

o  Guessing they have less money because they needed the second income?

·      “and if my mother wasn’t home by 5:30, we would start cooking by ourselves, to make sure dinner would be on time. Mona would wash the vegetables and put on the rice; I would chop.”

·      They go to their piano lessons with Miss Crosman

o  “We arrived out of breath and wet. “Oh you poor, poor dears,” said old Miss Crosman. “Why don’t you call me the next time it’s like this out? If your mother won’t drive you, I can come pick you up.””

o  They watch Eugenie get lessons and her mom comes to pick her up: “Mrs. Roberts, radiant with pride, swept her daughter out of the room as if she were royalty, born to the piano bench.”

o  Eugenie leaves her umbrella behind

·      ““Shall I call your mother and have her bring over some dry clothes?” “No,” answered Mona. “She won’t come because she…”“She’s too busy,” I broke in from the back of the room. “I see.” Miss Crosman sighed and shook her head a little. “Your glasses are filthy, honey,” she said to Mona. “Shall I clean them for you?””

·      Their mom doesn’t show up to pick them up but they sit outside waiting for her anyway

·      “The rain was prickling me all over; I was cold; I wanted to go inside. I wanted to be able to let myself go inside. If Miss Crosman came out again, I decided, I would go in. She came out with a blanket and the white umbrella.”

·      Miss Crosman gives the MC the umbrella

o  She says she wishes Miss Crosman were her mother

·      “[Mom] finally told us that she was working as acheckout clerk in the A&P.”

o  ““I wish you would quit,” I said after a moment.”

o  “She sighed. “The Chinese have a saying: one beam cannot hold the roof up.””

·      Car accident

o  “We wouldn’t have hit the car behind us that hard if he hadn’t been moving too but as it was, our car bucked violently, throwing us all first back and then forward”

o  “I noticed my mother’s head, tilted back onto the seat. Her eyes were closed. “Mom!” I screamed. “Mom! Wake up!”

o  “while everyone else was inspecting the damage we’d done, I threw the umbrella down a sewer”