Q: Why do you think that this story is titled "Disguise"? A: The word "disguise" is important as it can explain the external situation and internal situation of Mrs. Camouflage is used to hide or obscure something. In this case, Mrs. Chen tried to avoid the current world by rethinking the past. She is in an exotic place from language to awkward treatment, and she sees her dream of her previous life.
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On the night Mrs. Chen got lost, she was wearing a golden amulet of the goddess Kuan Yin underneath her clothes, for protection. She took the subway home from the factory in Chinatown.
Sitting on the long seat with her feet lightly grazing the floor, she felt the weight of sleep drag her head forward, her permed curls sinking towards the small neat hands cupped politely in her lap. As the half-empty subway car lurched through the tunnel, its movement sporadically flung her head upward.
She caught herself from sleep in those moments, looking about her, alarmed, only to have exhaustion fall over her again like a blanket. The swaying of the subway threw her back and forth against the hard seat, the thin fabric of her flowered pants brushed against the shopping bag full of sewing.
Three… four…. Chen lifted her heavy head. Five… six… the door opened and her factory supervisor strode out of the elevator with her polyester skirt flicking about her legs, stepping quickly and fastidiously, as though the clumps of fabric dust on the sewing room floor dirtied her high-heeled shoes. As she walked, she waved one wide hand in front of her mouth to clear away the dust in the air—the other gripped a wadded piece of clothing. The supervisor only came into the work area when there was a problem; otherwise, she stayed in the air conditioned offices upstairs.
The supervisor threaded her way through the pack of women, bright in her silver-toned suit; its light gray material stretched across her fat stomach like the skin of a snake. She stopped next to Mrs. Chen and with fingers thick with rings of jade, snapped open the garment she had been holding—a skirt.
She told everyone that she had been born in Hong Kong where the cleanest Cantonese is spoken, but, Mrs. Chen thought, her peasant roots shone clearly through her words. She knew the supervisor resented her for the breeding that meant so little in this country. She could see the skirt was one she had labored over at night, sewing between the soft breaths of her sleeping family.
The supervisor held it away from her. Chen, you are very new to this country—we have had much trouble with recent arrivals—and my uncle is doing you a great favor to allow you to take home extra sewing, and indeed to work here at all. I do not like to see ungrateful employees. You will, of course, not be paid for that entire bundle. Then, before Mrs. Chen could reach for the skirt, the supervisor took one corner of it in her teeth and the other in her hands, and tore it down the seams, in half.
She tossed the pieces onto Mrs. Chen sank into her seat, spreading her fingers to shield her hot face. What crime have I committed, in which past life, to deserve these evil winds of fate that blow at my back? She realized that everyone was watching her out of the corners of their eyes, pretending they had noticed nothing. No one said anything to her. The subway doors closed and her head nodded forward. The last station sped behind her.
The overhead light went out, and the fluorescent flashes from the subway tunnel gleamed in the darkness behind her eyelids, pane after pane like frames of a movie. Chen, then just a girl named Lai Fong, was in China again. She was wearing green silk, preparing with her mother the ceremony for the seven goddesses who protected virginal maidens; it was the last time she would do this, because she was soon to be married. She bent to kneel on the cushion before the goddesses at the altar.
Her mother, already kneeling, stopped her with a touch on her arm. The screech of the subway rang in her ears, startling her. Chen brushed her forehead three times, to clear away painful memories. She touched the amulet of Kuan Yin hanging from the gold chain around her neck; its shape underneath her blouse reassured her. The amulet was the only part of her mother Mrs.
Chen had been able to take with her when she left China. More people filled the subway car than she had remembered. Two well-dressed black women across from her chatted, and as one laughed, the long yellow feather on her hat wiggled. A homeless man wearing a cardboard sign with English writing on it had wrapped himself around a pole near Mrs. He gingerly peeled his hands from the pole, as if it caused him pain to do so, and holding out his left palm, began to make his way through the car.
His rancid smell, like sour milk, reached her before he did, and she tried not to breathe too deeply. Spittle clung to the sides of his mouth, suspended in droplets in his rough beard, but his lips were full and red, as though they alone had not lost their hold on life.
When he stood in front of her, she studied his dirty face, and she was not afraid. It is said, she thought, that we must all be beggars for one life, we only hope that that life has already past. She opened her change purse and pressed a quarter into his palm.
She had none to spare but in this world, she mused, the times when you are able to give are so few that when you can, you must; the gods always view compassion kindly.
Chen said, smiling. This was one of the few English phrases she had managed to learn. The homeless man closed his fingers around the coin, his stare not leaving her smile as though it surprised him more than the quarter. He turned to the two women sitting across from her. They had stopped talking to watch Mrs. Now, they also took out their purses and gave him some change. As the homeless man went on his way, Mrs.
Chen nodded to the women and they smiled back before resuming their conversation. Chen settled into her seat and closed her eyes. The subway car clattered; it was as though she and the women and the homeless man were all in a carriage together, riding to the same place.
But where were they going? Then it seemed to her that the homeless man had put his head on her shoulder and they were resting together, sleeping, with the women across the way looking on.
Suddenly, she sat up. What stop was this? This must be number fourteen! This should be the right one but why did everything seem so unfamiliar?
Where should she get off? The black women were gone; there was no sign of the homeless man. Chen grabbed her shopping bag and hurried out of the train just before the doors closed, hoping this was indeed her station. Chen always scolded her for being overly imaginative.
But as she stood on the platform, with the rush of the subway wind at her back, she realized that she had never seen this place before. She watched the few passengers make their way to the stairs. Then, from behind her, she heard the sound of footsteps. She panicked and fled for the exit, the shopping bag bumping against her legs.
She had been mugged only a few weeks ago; she was the last one leaving the subway platform and a teenager in a leather jacket had blocked her way. He pulled out a long knife and held it in front of his body, half-hidden by the folds of his coat. His eyes horrified her. Without a word, he gestured with his knife. She gave him her purse; he took it and ran. Chen reached the token booth, passed it, and raced up onto the street.
She stood outside the subway station, gulping in the cool night air, holding onto the stair rail. She looked around. No one had followed her. A desolate avenue lined with streetlamps stretched before her, the concrete buildings smothered in graffiti, interrupted by long alleys. In the distance, a dark figure walked down the block, only to quickly disappear around a corner. A skeleton of a car, windshield broken, stripped of all four wheels, loomed next to the subway entrance.
She did not recognize anything. This was a terrible place. She took the amulet out of her blouse and clutched it. A low wind whistled through the avenue, setting stray pieces of litter skittering across the concrete. She went back to the token booth. She was relieved to see the clerk, a heavy man with a gray goatee, through the murky glass; he was an official, he could help her.
She went around to the front of the booth and rapped on the glass with her knuckles. He was talking on the phone and when he saw her, shifted so that his back was to her. She tapped on the booth more insistently. He waved for her to wait. She searched through her purse to find the piece of paper with her street address on it.
Disguises by Jean Fong Kwok Guided Reading Worksheet
We think you have liked this presentation. If you wish to download it, please recommend it to your friends in any social system. Share buttons are a little bit lower. Thank you! Published by Allan Turner Modified over 4 years ago. Answer in a 1-word response Where did the story take place?
“Disguises” By Jean Fong Kwok.
On the night Mrs. Chen got lost, she was wearing a golden amulet of the goddess Kuan Yin underneath her clothes, for protection. She took the subway home from the factory in Chinatown. Sitting on the long seat with her feet lightly grazing the floor, she felt the weight of sleep drag her head forward, her permed curls sinking towards the small neat hands cupped politely in her lap. As the half-empty subway car lurched through the tunnel, its movement sporadically flung her head upward. She caught herself from sleep in those moments, looking about her, alarmed, only to have exhaustion fall over her again like a blanket. The swaying of the subway threw her back and forth against the hard seat, the thin fabric of her flowered pants brushed against the shopping bag full of sewing.
“Disguises” By Jean Fong Kwok
Q: List some of the religious practices and customs mentioned in this story. What do these practices and customs tell you about Mrs. Chen and her world? A: Some religious practices and customs that are mentioned are: ceremonies held for the seven goddesses who protected virginal maidens, which, in Mrs. She also blamed her past life for her misfortune and gave to the beggar because she believed that the gods viewed compassion kindly.