Disappearing Moon Cafe Chapter Summaries
Prologue: Search for Bones
Wong Gwei Chang , is on a bone searching expedition sent by the Benevolent Associations. His “mission is to search out the bones of those who have died on the iron road, so they can be sent back home” (p.2) He meets an Indian, Kelora Chen and her father,Chen Gwok Fai, during his expedition. They help Gwei Chang survive in the new land and help find the bones. A certain intimacy occurs between Gwei Chang and Kelora.
Chapter 1: Waiting for Enlightenment
Kae Ying Woo is a woman waiting for enlightenment. She “has been told that it is important to keep a family strong and together” (p.26) It was her time to give birth to a child, but nobody had told her that it was so hard. When the baby boy, Robert Man Jook Lee, is born, her mother tells her about her great- grandmother, Lee Mui Lan.
Lee Mui Lan worked at the Disappearing Moon Cafe. She had a tyrant personality. Her husband was Wong Gwei Chang ,but they had bad communication with each other. Mui Lan explained that she wanted her son Wong Choy Fuk, and her daughter in law, Chan Fong Mei, to have a child for the Wong family.
Kae Ying Woo’s is with her roommate, Hermia Chow. Kae shows her grandmother’s (Chan Fong Mei) letters describing her life in Canada to Hermia.
Chan Fong Mei feels like she is being put in a hopeless situation, “squashed under her mother-in-law’s big thumb” (p.72) because she and Choy Fuk do not have children yet. She also yells at her friend Ting An, a worker in the cafe.
Chapter 2: Ties overseas- a ticket in
Weeping on the floor in front of her mother-in-law lies Chan Fong Mei. Mui Lan threatens to kick her out of the house. Mui Lan tells Fong Mei that Fok would have another wife, but inorder to do this Fong Mei must be divorced. She also adds that if Fong Mei doesn’t want this to happen, she’ll need to bare a child.
Thinking about her grandmother, Kae Ying Woo is reminded about her uncle Morgan Keung Chi Wong.They talked on the phone, and Morgan begins talking about the Janet Smith murder case. The case had something to do with their family.This had raised a huge commotion in Chinatown, Wong Foon Sing the main suspect of the murder is questioned. Gwei Chang is there as a patriarch , also controlling the crowd.
Morgan and Kae are sitting at the library and working on homework.
Kae’s eyes and heart start to wander to Morgan.
Morgan suddenly tells Kae the truth about him. Kae’s mother and he are half-brother and sister. Kae’s grandmother had a lover which was his father. Kae couldn’t believe in the truth and had a quarrel with him.
When Morgan drove Kae home, they had a car crash, but survived.
When Kae’s parents saw Morgan in the hospital, Kae realized that all Morgan told her was true.
Chapter 3: Triangles
Fong Mei frustrated, thinking about the affair Choy Fuk had with a waitress working at the cafe. She thinks that it was Mui Lan who set them up together.
On the other end, Choy Fuk is sick of women, sick of his nagging mother and fed up with his wife. He enjoyed the time he had with the waitress and wants the waitress to have a baby for his mother, but she still hasn’t had one for 6 months.
Ting An is with Yee Gaw watching people gamble on when Choy Fuk will make the waitress pregnant. Ting An dislikes the idea of it.
The next morning, Ting An wakes up with a sore throat and starts thinking about his life: “Why the hell…. does everyone have the notion that I can always handle people?” referring to Gwei Chang and Mui Lan in frustration.
When Ting An sees Fong Mei, she pounces on him.
Chapter 4: Ties to the land – A ticket Out
Kae is taking care of the baby, her mother and her nanny, Seto Chi, come over to help with the baby.
In 1926, the waitress had a baby boy, Keeman Woo. Though the baby did not go home to the Wong family even though the father might have been Choy Fuk.
Fong Mei also has a baby girl Beatrice Li Ying Wong. We find out that Keeman and Beatrice is Kae’s mother and father. Also during that time,”The waitress marries the gambler. Mui Lan got deposed. And Choy Fuk kept his mouth shut”(p.182)
Beatrice went to Hong Kong and Keeman fought in WW II and survived. After these event they met again and fell in love and were soon engaged, but Fong Mei opposed of it and hit Beatrice. Fong Mei told her that Keeman was Beatrice’s “father’s bastard son.” (p.201) Beatrice ran away from home, but comes back. Keeman goes to his mother to find the truth about his father, but his mother, Song An, was not sure who was his real father.
Chapter 5: Identity Crisis
Kae is currently dating Morgan, but is always haunted by the past of Suzanne and Morgan. Suzanne is the daughter of Fong Mei, and the sister of Beatrice. Suzanne and Morgan met when they were 15 and 16. Suzanne became pregnant with Morgan’s child at 16.
When Mui Lan came to hear the waitress’s story, she broke down and ran away. Choy Fuk went to find her. “Fong Mei thought of this crisis as an opportunity for a shopping spree”(p.216) Beatrice and Sue were to come along.
It took 4 years for Beatrice and Keeman to finally get married “and finally make a stand against that mother of hers” (p.239) They rented a cheap apartment and moved in a day, including with the pregnant little sister.
Chapter 6: The Writer
Fong Mei questions Suzie about who the father of the child in her stomach was. Suzie replies that it is Morgan Keung Chi Wong’s. Fong Mei closes her eyes and starts to remember about her love for Ting An and how Ting An told Fong Mei to marry him and have children of their own.
Kae wonders about how all this happened. She interviews her ancestors as if they were alive; asking them what was love and how did they feel.
Fong Mei says she wonders if she should have ran away with the man she loved (Ting An) instead of staying with Choy Fuk and the money.
Suzie died at 17, also the year Kae was born.
Chapter 7: The Suicide
When Suzie told her mother who the father was, her mother just walked away and closed herself in her room.
Their grandmother is sick in bed and still insisting Bea and Keeman to not be together because they are brothers and sisters.
About a week, Morgan and Suzie are in their parent’s Pontiac. The police come up to them and Morgan is arrested. Morgan had committed petty theft before. Now because of stealing money and the car.
Fong Mei threatened Suzie to be sent to prison in Greenwood. But before that she had a doctor check up. She found that she had a nervous breakdown and her water broke. She was sent to the hospital. At the verge of death, she had her baby,but it did not survive.
Beatrice now pregnant, tells Keeman, “Keeman? I just figured something. You know, it’s not you and I who are brother and sister. It’s Suzie and Morgan.” (p.275)
Mui Lan dies.
Suzie is in bed waiting for Beatrice and Keeman to pick her up for their big veterans’ affair that night. Suzie is really weak and doesn’t have enough energy to even eat. She lies to Bea that she is healthy. Though, Suzie is quite happy that her mother “ran away and hid”(p.285)
Not long after, Suzie dies of suicide.
Epilogue: New Moon
Gwei Chang comments on the Janet Smith murder. He had been there to witness the fight between the Whites and the Chinese. The”Janet smith” bill was placed and even caused boycott. Lee Chong, a great friends of Gwei Chang’s, never forgave Gwei Chang for agreeing about the boycott. Their friendship changed after that.
Gwei Chang sees his own son everyday who is working under him. Ting An was Gwei Chang’s son, but he did not have the opportunity to tell him that he was his father.
When Lee Chong heard that Gwei Chang was being laid up, he went to visit him. They chatted and their friendship was together again. But Gwei Chang fell ill and passed away very soon.
Gwei Chang is reminded of Ting An. Ting An wanted to get out of Chinatown, but Gwei Chang begging him not to. Gwei Chang even went through the trouble of buying Ting An a warehouse and told him it was okay to marry the French woman. The French woman and Gwei Chang convinced him to stay in Chinatown. One day, Ting An, drunk , comes to Gwei Chang for advice to change his last name ” Wong” back to “Chen” because he was going to marry. Gwei Chang replies back:” I am your father.” But Ting An refused to seek the truth and gets really angry.
Gwei Chang loved Kelora so much, like he was her prey. He wondered why she had left him. Though at the time he had to go back to China and marry another woman (Mui Lan). But when Gwei Chang came back, Kelora had passed away. He apologized to her “Kelora, I lost your son” (315) ,but she was not there anymore.