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In the story, “Prison”, from Yiun Li’s collection of short stories, Gold Boy, Emerald Girl, the teenage daughter and only child of Yilan and Luo, striving immigrants to the United States, dies in a car accident. The brief passage below depicts some of the complexity of mourning and the ambivalence which can be found in even our most powerful social connections.
The decision to immigrate turned out to be the most fatal mistake they had made. At night Yilan and Luo held hands in bed and wept. The fact that they were in love still, despite twenty years of marriage, the death of their only child, and a future with little to look forward to, was almost unbearable in itself; some time Yilan wondered whether it would be a comfort if they could mourn in solitude, their backs turned to each other.
It was during the daytime, when Luo was at work, that Yilan had such thoughts, which she felt ashamed of when he came home. It was time to do something before she was torn in half into a nightime self and a crazier daytime self, and before the latter one took over. (p. 102)