China Coin – Allan Baillie Essay Sample
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- Category: family
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China Coin – Allan Baillie Essay Sample
* Leah and her mother Joan are on a plane to China in search of the origins of a mysterious half a coin that was sent to Joan from her father. * Leah is not thrilled to be going.
* Leah does not see herself as Chinese.
* We find out that Leah’s father has died of cancer and they are tracing the coin for him, because he was really curious about where the other half of the coin is. * Joan is spooked by what she sees on TV – a student riot. Chapter 2
Joan and Leah go to the Qingping Market.
Leah notices that China is changing Joan – she is becoming “Chinese” – a side of Joan that Leah has not seen before.
They meet a young man who is putting up signs about democracy.
* Chapter 3
* We learn that Leah and Joan come from Chatswood NSW.
* They and Joan head to Good Field Village.
* They find the Ji family, which is her family and meet Chou Yin Yu (Silver Jade), Grandfather, Swallow and Chained Dragon. * Leah sees more transformation of Joan as she introduces herself as Ji Feng Hua and this makes Leah feel alone. * They find out that Grandfather is Joan’s father’s brother.
* Chapter 4
* Joan shows them the letter from her father that arrived with the coin. * Swallow ‘adopts’ Leah as a sister.
* We learn about some of the history of Communist China. We also learn that students are protesting in Beijing. *
* Chapter 5
* We learn that Joan’s grandfather started the village 80 years ago. * They go to the village cemetery.
* Leah is starting to feel a sense of belonging to these kind people – her self image is changing as well, and being part Chinese doesn’t seem like such a bad thing now. * Grandfather tells about how he and his brother got separated and asks about how rich Joan’s father was. He says that he thought his brother would come back and help them financially. Joan gets quite defensive of her father. * They have a big banquet after Joan returns from the city with their bags.
Leah realises she doesn’t really know her mother Joan very well. Leah overhears Grandfather and Jade talking about the coin. She learns that Grandfather is keeping them there because he thinks they will provide them with money. Jade is against this and doesn’t want Joan’s money. Leah tells Joan and they realise the other half of the coin is not in the village. Grandfather says they must go to Turtle Land Village to find the answers. Chapter 7
Joan and Leah catch a train to Shanghai.
They meet a woman who is a Communist Party official. She is rude and abusive to them. Leah sees that China can be a dangerous place.
We find out that Joan is afraid of the students/riots because when she was little there had been anti Chinese riots in Penang and their store had been burnt down. Chapter 8
Leah stops being angry with Joan.
They are in Shanghai.
Leah is taking photos when a group of students being chased by soldiers, run down the street and hit her and she is knocked to the ground. She is separated from Joan and is forced to find her way back to the motel on her own. When she returns Joan is mad and abuses Leah. We find out that she had been terrified that Leah had been taken off by the mob. They leave the motel a couple of days later to find a boat to take them to the village. Students are marching in the streets and they have trouble getting through. The students are carrying banners and fighting for freedom. Leah smiles at the students and is friendly but Joan reprimands her because she doesn’t want the soldiers or police to think she is one of them. * Chapter 9
* They travel along the Yangtze River.
* They both remember how they had found out about Leah’s dad’s cancer. * They are charged as tourists in the boat’s restaurant – Joan will not pay double the cost and eats below with the 3rd class passengers. Joan will not be pushed around. * There is still tension between Joan and Leah over the incident where Leah had been separated from her mother and Joan had blamed Leah. * They learn that the protests are not just in one place, but all over China. Joan is worried about their safety and about being trapped in China. * Joan thinks Leah doesn’t like China.
* Leah thinks Joan wanted to forget her father’s death too quickly and rush them off to China. * Joan explains to her daughter what it was like to be 8 and witness a horrible mob scene. * Joan explains that once their shop had been burnt, they left Penang and went to Singapore. Her philosophy is that once things are gone, you must change – turn away. Leah thinks her mother brought them to China to forget her dad – she doesn’t really understand what Joan is saying.
* Chapter 10
* They board the second river boat.
* Leah is confused about her mother’s actions/motives in solving the mystery of the coin. * Joan seems not to talk about her dead husband very much. * As the boat moves along the river Leah reminisces about when Dad was dying. We find out all the details and that Leah was mad with her mum after her dad dies. As the boat trip becomes “over” there is a connection with her father’s passing. Leah says, “We’ve been through a lot eh?” They are starting to heal and become closer to one another.
* Chapter 11
* Students are protesting in the town.
* Leah goes out for a walk around the town.
* Leah and a young woman are taking photos.
* The young woman tells Leah that 1000 students are on a hunger strike in Beijing, in Tiananmen Square * Leah identifies herself with this girl and realises she is just like her. * Arriving in Chonqing, Leah goes out and sees a protest. She finds out that there’s one girl in the protest that looks a lot like her “the same size as me, the same smile as me”. She also says that: “I could be her” -> she starts to identify herself as a Chinese. *
* Chapter 12
* Leah thinks things are changing – Joan seems happier and more relaxed. * They have trouble finding Turtle Land Village.
* Joan is discouraged and wants to go home.
* Leah comes back to the city and proudly tells Joan about her knowledge about the political situation of China while Joan doesn’t care -> They don’t care the same thing * However they both desperately go look for their village even though there is not clues. *
* Chapter 13
* They meet Ke, a student who is protesting. He takes them to Red Star Village. * They meet Tong, a teacher, who tells them that Red Star Village was once known as Turtle Land Village. * They are left with the last hope that is “The red star” village. While waiting for the taxi to be fixed, Leah tells Joan to go walk and find the village as it is the “final flicker” -> Leah is really serious in finding the village. * Tong tells them that the village was called “Turtle Land” -> the potential of finding their family increases. *
* Chapter 14
* Joan is run over by a motorcycle driven by Heng (a Communist Party member)
* Heng blames Joan for the accident
* Joan is taken to the hospital
* Ke reads the letter and realises that Leah and Joan are family * Hearing the crash, Leah runs toward Joan as Joan is lying injured in the road near the motorcycle. Leah shows her strong emotion reaction toward Joan’s accident and instead of call Joan Joan, she calls her Mum -> A strong sense of belonging between them, Leah worries about Joan deep much * Ke reads the letter and finds out something, he tells Heng that Leah is supposed to go to his family’s house as she is part of the family -> a new sense of belonging is built *
* Chapter 15
* Introduced to Ke’s mother, Li-Nan
* They discuss the Ji name and how what Grandfather had written in the letter could be Zhou instead of Ji, making Ke, Tong and Li-Nan family * Following Ke’s explanation about different meanings of a Chinese name, Leah realises she no longer translates Chinese into English, she realises that she starts to “think Chinese” -> She feels like a real Chinese, she accepts her Chinese self * Li-nan tells Leah that no matter the name is, no matter if Leah is the relatives or not, she is in Li-nan’s house, she is a part of it -> Li-nan gives Leah a sense of belonging by accepting and welcoming her to the family.
* Chapter 16
* Leah discovers that she really wants to be part of this family. She can feel a connection to them and realises she is changing * Ke takes the day off protesting to show Leah around the village * They visit Joan in hospital
* We learn about how Turtle Land Village got its name
* Leah walks in Turtle Land Village and realises that the village is different from the Good Field. She feels that she actually wants to be a Turtle Land villager ->She finally wants to have a connection to China
* Chapter 17
* Joan is miserable in hospital and wants desperately to get out * She questions Leah about the Zhou family and if they really are related * Leah comes to see her mother for the second time. Unlike the first time, Joan is now much more energetic and starts to complain about her life in the hospital. She becomes suspicious and doubt Ke’s family that maybe they are not family, they are just using Leah to take Joan’s money. Leah feel upset about what Joan says ->She like Ke’s family and doesn’t want other to say bad things about it, even from her own mother. *
* Chapter 18
* Leah really wants to belong to the village. She says to Ke: * “The village. You really think it’s mine, don’t you?” * “Definitely. Yours as much as mine.” Smiling, waiting. * We find out that Ke’s father has been killed
* Ke tells Leah that there were 1 million protesters in Tiananmen Square and they were not just students. He is excited about the news. * Russia’s Gorbachev tells Deng he has a revolution on his hands * Ke tells Leah about the timeline of the protests
* Ke tells Leah that they want an end to corruption – they want CHANGE – they want DEMOCRACY – A FAIR CHANCE – FREEDOM * We learn Heng is the Communist Party Head guy in the village and even though he only has the same land as everyone else, how does he afford a motorbike and a colour TV? His son runs a factory… There is no equality in the Communist Party * Ke tells Leah that his father was a poet and was killed by the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution, because of his poetry. * Ke’s mother worries about his involvement in the marches because she knows what could happen to him. * Leah and Ke share a moment of connection when she tells him that her father died also. * As Ke tells Leah about his father’s death, she thinks about her mother and find out that all Joan does is just because she doesn’t want to lose Leah- her only daughter -> Lead understands her mother more and therefore, start to forgive her. * The river bank is where Ke and Leah comes together and talk to each other. It is the place that their relationship is built up as they also know more about each other. *
* Chapter 19
* Ke has to go into Chengdu and his mother is worried about the danger – He is not, but is excited to see how the protests are going * Leah feeds the animals and helps out
* Li-Nan takes Leah to see Joan in the hospital
* Li-Nan and Joan finally connect and Leah feels a bit left out as they talk about their children and the worries they have for them * She is sad that Joan is opening up to Li-Nan instead of her * Ke and Leah making joke with each other, call each other “Orphan” and “Pig” and ask about the yesterday’s “unhappiness” -> they are getting really close as they can talk freely to each other, they understand each other. * Li-nan goes to the hospital with Leah, she meets Joan. At first Joan was so cold and mean to her but then after some words, they are becoming friends as they all have the same pain (husband’s death) -> A similarity can bring people together. * Joan asks Leah to go out so she and Li-nan have a space to talk about their husband. Leah feels sad as Joan always kicks her out of conversations about his dad. She feels like an outcast and wonders herself that why everybody gets to know Joan better than her.
* Chapter 20
* Leah meets Tong whilst she is out walking
* He takes her to his school and she notices how different it looks than her school * The get Tong’s coin book out to try to find out more about the coin * We learn that when Mao launched the Cultural Revolution the government made Tong scrub toilets instead of write books, and they killed his brother for his poetry. We learn that their father was made out to be a bad Chinese because he was a good farmer and so Tong says their lives were ruined * Tong agrees with the protests and what they hope to achieve, but he says it is very difficult to bring about change * Leah sees Tong outside the school and goes with him to see the book which might help them find out about the coin * Tong apologizes to Leah about his attitude the other day, Leah says to him that it is ok -> They now understand each other and get closer. * Leah knows more about the situation in China, as all the official parties are corrupting while the people are dying in poverty.
* Chapter 21
* Ke returns from Chengdu with news that the city is under siege with students and workers and other protestors, even the police do not want to stop them * We learn some of the Communist leaders had come out to talk to the students * Heng speaks about supporting the students and ending corruption * In the café, Tong says that he likes Leah and even if she is not family, he would marry her into the family (to Ke) so that she could be part of his family -> their relationship is getting closer as Tong wants Leah to be part of his family. * Ke comes back and tells everyone about the situation of the protest. Heng unexpectedly says that he is in support of the students and tries to explain that he is not corrupting. *
* Chapter 22
* Leah tells Ke how his mother worries about him
* Ke describes how he had his mother bonded after his father had died – how working the field together brought them closer together * Ke takes Leah to the paddy and tell her that is the paddy was dug by Li-nan and him. Ke explains how Li-nan did to overcome the pain of his father’s death. Just like Joan, Li-nan kept herself and ke busy so they didn’t have time to think about Ke’s father. Working together for so long, they became friends and then the paddy was not important anymore, they reached their goal. * Ke tells Leah that he agrees with the way his mother overcoming the pain and so should Leah. Leah realises that maybe Joan wants the trip to China their “paddy” *
* Chapter 23
* Tong arrives with news of the coin – it is older than the village * On the way to the hospital Leah wonders why other people know Joan better than she does * Leah remembers her mother crying when she had read the letter from her father. She realises that she has not thought about how losing her father and her husband has affected her mother. * Leah confesses to her mum that she is jealous that Joan talks to other people about how she feels, but not to Leah. * Ke had asked why they had come to China and at first it was for other people, but they both realise that now it is for themselves – Leah feels a great sense of family and belonging: * “But this is my family now!”
* Leah tells about Ke and Li-Nan digging the paddy and how that made them closer. Perhaps this hunt for the coin is their ‘paddy’ and will bring them closer * Li-Nan breaks into a trunk that was her husbands, and is now Ke’s, looking for the other half of the coin * They find the other half of the coin in a piece of bamboo and are very excited * Leah comments:
* “This is family, Leah thought …and hugged them both back. What a great day.” * On the way to the hospital, Leah asks herself why people get to know Joan better than her, and then she put herself in Joan’s shoes and finds out the answer herself. She understands why Joan did all the things. * In the hospital, Leah frankly asks Joan and Joan opens her mind to Leah -> They get together and become closer. * Leah realises that her purpose of the trip is changed, she is no longer there for her Dad but for herself. She wants to be a part of Ke’s family. * Leah gets home and helps Li-nan explore her husband’s chest. They find the other half coin in the bamboo. Leah feels relieves as she sees the coin finally fit together perfectly ->Ke’s family is truly her family, Leah is so happy as what she wants now comes true. * She also notices that Ke is not there and asks for Ke -> Leah misses Ke and likes Ke so much that she wants to share her happy moment with him. *
* Chapter 24
* Li-Nan says that Leah must tell Joan about the coin, but Leah says, “We’ll tell her. Together.”
* They find a piece of paper in the bamboo stick
* Ke arrives home and tells them that Deng has declared Martial Law and soldiers have been brought in to stop them protestors * Ke wants to go to the city again but Li-Nan convinces him to stay home because of the danger. He is not happy. * He apologies for dragging Leah into the political trouble and she surprises herself by saying, “I want to be part of it.” * Ke is criticised by his friends for not going to Chengdu and he is left crying * They are able to read part of the paper and it was written by Ke and Leah’s great grandfather * Leah visits Joan in hospital. Joan says, “You’re perfect. Wonderful people. A family.” “It is wonderful to find a friend and know that she is family too.” * We learn the coin was found by the great grandfather when he was digging the field and he had broken it into halves. He took it to a wise woman in his village to see if it was of any value. * Ke and Leah find the mattock that had been used by the great grandfather to split the coin
* News comes back from the city that Deng has surrendered. The students are growing in numbers and are being joined by thousands of others. Soldiers have turned back. They are all shouting “people Power.” “Down with Deng and Li Peng.” * We find out more from the old page…The old woman had told the great grandfather that the coin was worthless but was an omen and would split his family because he had split the coin * News again of the protest..Nothing has happened. Tens of thousands of protestors, police and army, with no movement * On Ke’s return we find out that not as many people are marching as before. Zhao has been pushed aside..Ke is depressed * They have the whole of the scroll translated now, but Ke is too distracted by the protest to be excited
* We learn that after the coin was found, and the omen given, the village suffered famine and floods and hard times. We find that Bi has had to leave the village to go and search for better land to support his family. The father gives his son half the coin to remember this broken family. Leah gives the two halves of the coin to Ke. * As the protesting situation is getting worse, Li-nan doesn’t want Ke to go anymore because she is afraid to lose Ke. Ke reluctant agree to stay. * Ke goes talk to his friends to find out more about the real thing happening in the protest. The students say that they need Ke but Ke tells them he can’t go. They criticise Ke and he feels guilty, he is losing his sense of belonging toward the protest group * Leah, Tong and Li-nan come to the hospital to tell Joan that they are family. Joan is happy as eventually she could find her own family.
* Chapter 25
* The government stops the trains running so the students can’t travel to the marches. Ke feels they have failed in their attempt to change things. * Ke says that the only important place to march is Tiananmen. Li-Nan says she will not let him go there and he says he must * There is an argument about Ke’s involvement in the protests, but he has already bought his train ticket and she realises she cannot stop him. They hug. He says it will be alright, but his face is pale.
* Chapter 26
* Ke has been gone for two days
* Leah thinks about how long she has been in China and how she never wanted to come. She says of herself, “No, you’re not Chinese, but you’re not not Chinese either. It doesn’t matter anymore.” She is finding her place. * Leah doesn’t want to leave China without seeing Ke. She thinks about him in a romantic sort of way * Heng arrives in the village and Leah realises he has fertiliser…(the other villagers have none) * Leah goes home and tells Tong what she has seen. Tong gets some people up and the head to Heng’s. they shame Heng into sharing the fertiliser with the village * Joan gets out of hospital
* Leah and Joan leave the village to start heading home
* Leah walks in the village herself at night, she realises that she is now familiar with the village and China. She gets accepted by people and even the animals (dog, duck…) and she feels happy about it, she nearly accepts her Chinese identity by saying : “NO you’re not Chinese but you’re not not Chinese either. It doesn’t matter anymore” * Leah finds Heng sneaking on the root with his bike and a truck, she smells the fertiliser in Heng’s truck and realises Heng is secretly taking all the fertiliser for his own. Leah runs back home to tell Tong. They catch Heng and take away all of his fertiliser bags. * Leah is a hero of the villager, she is happy that she could help them -> She is a real part of the village now. * Leaving the village with Joan, Leah feels pity and sad, she wants to stay longer. *
* Chapter 27
* Joan tells Leah that she can go to Tiananmen to see Ke
* Leah sees a lot of people in Tiananmen Square
* A man helps Leah get closer to a ‘statue’ – the ‘Goddess of Democracy’ hoping she will find Ke there
* Chapter 28
* Leah finds Ke
* Ke tells her many have been there for a month and they will not give up * Ke shows Leah a piece of glass that he got the coins set in. she takes it to show Joan and promises to return tomorrow * She kisses him
* Leah goes to find Ke and sees him with thousands of students in the Tiananmen. Ke gives Leah the glass egg in which the two halves of the coin are encased. The halves are separated by the bubble -> symbolise that Ke and Leah cant get together, the new China cant be accepted by the old govermnet *
* Chapter 29
* Leah is woken at night. She thinks it is the sound of crackers at a wedding. * Joan and Leah go to the great wall, Joan starts to talk about David with Leah -> They are getting closer *
* Chapter 30
* Leah finds out that something bad has happened at Tiananmen. Leah travels to Tiananmen and finds out that the soldiers attacked the students the night before. * Ke has not contacted them.
* Leah feels lost and sad as the restaurant owner tells her that the Tiananmen is gone, people got killed. She worries about Ke. *
* Chapter 31
* Leah goes out for a walk in search of Ke or some news. She sees soldiers and burnt out trucks and is nearly shot by a soldier, who shoots another young woman instead.
* Chapter 32
* Leah and Joan wait in the hotel, hoping to be contacted by Ke * The Australian Embassy evacuates Leah and Joan from the motel to a safer location * We learn through a re-tell from one of the students what must have happened at Tiananmen the night of the massacre * They are evacuated again to the airport, where they will leave for Australia * Leah remembers that Ke had said that the Egg with the coin in it was China * The reality that Ke is dead hits them both and they think of poor Li-Nan * They cling to each other for comfort as they leave China behind * Joan and Leah receive the call from the Australian embassy and follow them to the safe place. Leah desperately waits for Ke’s call, hoping he is alright. * Leah thinks about the coin as a symbol for so many things. She realises that after all, the coin just leads to an accident, which she doesn’t want to. * After all, Joan and Leah get together.