When Heaven and Earth Changed Places

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Life with Other Races
On pages 283-284 of When Heaven and Earth Changed Places, Le Ly meets a Korean proprietor, Lee, through Red, her boyfriend. Lee makes her spin around foolishly and asks her if she can dance. Le Ly is confused and says no because there is not any music playing. Red replies that Le Ly dances like a “firecracker”. She is still so confused until Lee explains the whole thing. Lee says that he would pay her a week’s worth of hospital wages if she works as a “go-go dancer” in his club for one night. He says that many Americans come to his club and that they give extra tip to the girls who put on the best show. Le Ly does not say yes, but she cannot make herself say no, thinking about all the money she could raise in such a short time. Red says that Le Ly made the best decision. But Le Ly thinks about and reconsiders her choice, and Red gets really angry. He tells her to march right into the lab and tell the administration to “go to hell”. Although Le Ly does what he says, she just tells them that she quits. After going back to Red’s house and making love, Le Ly and Red go back to Lee’s club. There are many people and Le Ly sees the first dancers topless! Le Ly is in terrified and yells that she will not do that. Red tries to coax her into doing it. He confesses that he is always made fun of and that if she goes up on the stage and dances, he will become “somebody” and so will she. Le Ly cannot believe this and she leaves right away. She is so relieved to be free and she decides to finally go home.

This event sits in Bay Ly’s mind like a haunting memory. The moment that her mother was on the line between life and death had turned her mother’s whole life around. She would walk to the limit of her prison and secretly hope that one day, someone would see her cross the invisible line and shoot her, releasing her from the horrible life she is trapped in. Bay Ly concludes that her mother was not the same after this event. She had...
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