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The Gangster We Are All Looking For’: Chapter Two “palm”

Chapter Synopsis

The narrator's mother finally arrives in America and is reunited with her husband and daughter. She works as a seamstress, and they live in an apartment complex that has a palm trees out front and a pool. One day, the mother crashes her Cadillac into the front gates of the apartment complex. On hot days, the boys living in the complex jump into the pool from the second floor; this causes the landlord to empty the pool and fill it with cement and rocks. On the surface of the filled pool, a small palm tree is planted. After the transformation, Ba (the father) and Ma (the mother) argue.

The living space next door to them is abandoned, and the children in the neighborhood play and set up a large cardboard box (similar to a fort). The narrator recalls one summer when she was in the box with a boy who touched her chest. After that, she continued to go into the box with the boy.

The narrator runs an errand for her family to purchase ice. On her way home, she senses a terrible realization that her brother may have been left in Vietnam.

Important Elements of Chapter Two

Specific Quotations Regarding the Narrator:

Page 37: “In the shade of the evening, as you looked over the second-floor railing into the swimming pool below, the shapes of things that had happened would slowly take form and come into focus.”

Page 45: “...I’d gaze at the rectangular shape of the window above my parents’ bed and picture fish in the sea...

Page 65: “You could lift up a corner of that ground and there would be nothing beneath it. Except maybe water.”

Chapter Structure<

Specific Quotations Regarding Chapter Structure:

Page 63: “I leaned forward and pressed my lips against his palm. . . . Down below, the palm looked lonely as an island."

Page 77: “I stood in that small room and wept into the desert of my palms.”

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