It’s Your Choice – What Are You Waiting For?

Have you ever been caught between two choices, trying to decide which one is better? You consider the consequences for each choice, debating on which one will have the best outcome. Then, something happens that tips the scales in the favor of one of them – it might be as simple as a coin flip, or even something as giant as someone’s death. Well, for Lin Kong this is exactly the dilemma he faced during the rising action of Waiting by Ha Jin

At first, Lin Kong had a “simple and peaceful” (Jin 49) life; he was trapped in a loveless arranged marriage with a plain wife who lived in a village and worked in Muji City as a doctor. Then, after years of this,  he met a girl who worked as a nurse alongside him at the hospital called Manna Wu. She was pretty, lively, and smart – everything his wife was not. So, he began a steady relationship with Manna. Even though he had found Manna, he still did not want to divorce his wife since that would force him out of the “safety net” had had created for himself.

However, after a some time in this cheerful relationship he had with Manna, Lin’s father passed away. This completely changed his attitude towards his wife, “Now that both his parents had died, his need for his wife had changed; now she was only caring for his baby daughter. In his heart he felt for [his wife], who had never had an easy day since their marriage, but he didn’t love her and was unwilling to spend the rest of his life with her. He wanted a marriage based on love and a wife whose appearance wouldn’t embarrass him in the presence of others (to his mind, Manna would be a fine choice)” (76-77). As his desire to keep his wife lessened and he thought about divorcing her more and more, another event occurred.

A section chief in the Military Department of the City Administration died of a heart attack. His death affected Manna a lot, since she had known him quite well. Soon after that, she told Lin, “‘Life is such a precarious thing. Today we’re alive, tomorrow we may may be gone” (77).  Since such ideas had been planted in her head because of the section chief’s death, Manna began to get frustrated with the lack of initiative Lin was taking to move their relationship forward and angry from being treated like a mistress. He refused to divorce his wife while she kept pushing him to do so, resulting in a massive argument and their breakup, “‘Listen, Lin, it’s time for you to decide. I’m tired of waiting like this. Who am I to you? I’m not even your mistress…If you do nothing, it’s over between us’” (78). After Manna presented him with a “now or never”  push, Lin began to consider divorcing his wife. He wanted to keep Manna, yet still have his safety net to fall back on – only after Manna was gone, Lin was forced to face whether or not keeping his wife and family was worth losing Manna.

Yet another incident happened after Lin and Manna’s relationship came to an end. At the National Day party, Manna became very drunk and tearfully tried convincing Lin one last time to divorce his wife. This finally pushed Lin over the brink of the choice of divorcing his wife or not, “After being shaken by this holiday incident, Lin began to think seriously about getting a divorce. He decided to bring it up to [his wife] the next summer” (85). In the end, all of these events came together, resulting in him choosing to divorce his wife once and for all.

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