The Lantern and Mooncake Festival in Catherine Lim's The Bondmaid

Spitface's gift to Han of a special lantern for the festival provide's Lim with an effective means of dramatizing his pure love for her, his relation to the townspeople, and her single-minded devotion to young master:

Spitface who was watching her had an idea of how his gift giving, always repulsed by the little girl, might this time achieve its wish. He went to a shop in the town where a myriad colourful lanterns, in preparation for the Lantern and Mooncake Festival , hung from the ceiling rafters, and pointed to the owner a particularly beautiful one, of a red-and-green dragon. Spitface who had no money to pay for food or toys he desired and pointed to, was sometimes waved away, but not too unkindly for a whole town had learnt to tolerate if not treat with kindness, the poor misshapen creature who moved in and out of shops and eating places with the complete ease of a trusting child. A recalcitrant dog or child might still give trouble and snap and spit at him but would be smacked into greater charity. The lantern shop owner said, 'You want to give it to somebody? Your girlfriend, eh?', got a pole and brought down the green and red dragon. Later he made Spitface chop a small stack of firewood for his stove.

Spitface brought the lantern to the girl Han in a whoop of joy. she received it eagerly, with the same energy she sometimes rejected his less acceptable gifts. She thought, trembling with joy, I will take it to him. He will like it because it is so beautiful. [114]

In the end, Han, unlike Spitface, is disappointed; his gift, at least, was received with appreciation.


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

Postcolonial Web Singapore OV Singaporean Literature Catherine Lim