The Feast of the Hungry Ghosts

The rich person's equivalent to the sacrifices we see Han, her mother, and other's making as part of their prayers appears in the matriarch's preparations for the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, yet another of the novel's mentions of the relations of living and dead:

On the Feast of the Hungry Ghosts, when an additional table was brought in to hold the immense plates of cooked meats and vegetables for the ghosts' banquet, the matriarch, perfectionist to the last, ran her expert eyes over the suckling pig, roast duck, braised goose and rested on the steamed chicken, to ascertain that it was virgin pullet, obtained at great cost and effort from the town market's only pullet stall, and not ordinary used hen not fit for offering to august ancestors and gods. Careless, lazy bondmaids might deceive the dead but not the living. The matriarch, detecting the deception, would call for a pair of chopsticks and a bin, and delicately poke out the unworthy offering, still glistening in its own oil. "How do you expect the Reverend from the White Light Temple to make such an offering?" The Reverend who came for all important occasions was known to be fastidious. [35]

How does Lim use this passage to characterize the Matriarch of the Wu clan, her relations to her servants, and her views of the vicious abbott?


Lim, Catherine. The Bondmaid. [1995] London: Oriel, 1997.

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Catherine Lim