Dragonwings Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 25 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Dragonwings.
This section contains 774 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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Dragonwings Summary & Study Guide Description

Dragonwings Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Dragonwings by Laurence Yep.

Dragonwings is a historical novel by author Laurence Yep who won the Newberry Award. In this novel, Moon Shadow comes to America to be with his father, Windrider, from their home in the Middle Kingdom. As Moon Shadow and his father struggle to survive in a hostile country, they somehow find time to focus on their dreams. Windrider has read about the flying machine the Wright brothers built and believes he can build a better one and fly. Moon Shadow struggles alongside his father as they both build their dream and work to survive both natural and man-made disasters. Dragonwings is a novel of the Asian community of the early 1900s and the spirit that kept them from giving up their dreams.

Moon Shadow has never met his father. Windrider left to make his fortune in America before Moon Shadow's birth. Therefore, Moon Shadow is excited when a distant relative comes and tells him that Moon Shadow is to travel with him to America to live with his father. The trip by ship is very exciting, but not near as exciting as setting foot in the Land of the Golden Mountain and meeting the father he has only heard stories about.

For the first several years of his life in America, Moon Shadow lives with his father in the laundry that is owned by his father's uncle and several friends and relatives. Moon Shadow goes along with his father to make deliveries and pick up dirty laundry. When Moon Shadow is older, he is given the task of collecting past monies due to the company. During one of these outings, Moon Shadow is beaten and robbed by his cousin who has an opium addiction. Windrider goes after the cousin, threatening to kill him, but is stopped by the gang to which his cousin belongs. This causes Windrider and Moon Shadow to move away from the company or face retribution from the gang.

Windrider and Moon Shadow move into a stable behind the once grand home of a white woman. This white woman is very kind and wants to know all she can about Windrider and Moon Shadow's culture. This woman also has a niece who befriends Moon Shadow. In time this foursome becomes a close knit group of friends, often picnicking together and flying kites. During this time, Windrider becomes obsessed with the idea of building a flying machine so that he might one day fly like a dragon. To help his father, Moon Shadow writes to the Wright brothers, a set of brothers who built their own flying machine a few years before. The Wright brothers send schematics and charts to Windrider to help him with his own machine.

One morning a great earthquake hits. Moon Shadow stands in the yard and watches as all the buildings around him fall apart. When it is over, Moon Shadow and his father begin hearing voices calling from the rubble. With the help of their landlady, Moon Shadow and Windrider begin digging survivors out. They learn throughout the day that the military has come in and the government has declared martial law. However, the military is looting more than the looters they have been asked to stop.

Moon Shadow and his father move to the Golden Gate park where many other survivors of the city have gathered. After a few days, however, the government comes and forces the Asians to move. They move the Asians many times from place to place, causing them to fear that they will not be allowed to settle again in their part of the city. The leaders rise up together and face down the government, forcing them to allow the Asians to return to their homes. The Company's building is rebuilt and the laundry business begins again. Windrider announces that he plans to move away so that he can concentrate on building his flying machine.

For three years, Windrider and Moon Shadow live in a barn, working odd jobs, and building their flying machine. Just as the machine is ready to fly, the cousin returns and steals all their money. Windrider learns that they are about to be evicted by the landlord with no means to move the flying machine. The Company appears on that final day and helps move the flying machine to the top of the hill where Windrider is able to fly it over the valley. Unfortunately, one of the wings breaks and Windrider crashes. Windrider survives and learns from the ordeal that family is more important. Windrider returns to the Company to work for the day he can bring his wife to America.

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