Waiting for Nothing

In the book Waiting by Ha Jin,  the main gist of the theme is already in the title- waiting. The entire theme is more detailed than that though, and is about waiting for empty promises. For this post, I chose to use the method of sending fake texts as Lin Kong (the main character) between a few other characters in the story to demonstrate the theme of the book, especially in the falling action and resolution.


In the first thread of messages, Lin is texting his girlfriend/mistress early on in the book about whether or not he should divorce his wife. She is pushing him to do so, whereas he is holding back.


Manna is beginning to feel that waiting for Lin is useless, so breaks up with him. In the next thread of messages, Lin’s colleagues are asking him how his relationship with Manna is going.



Lin also realizes that he was leading Manna on, confirming the waiting for nothing theme. Then, eighteen years after a lot of things happened, (spoiler alert) such as Lin and his wife’s eventual divorce, Lin and Manna’s marriage and the birth of his twin sons, Lin began to feel unsatisfied again. He got what he had wanted – Manna and a divorce from an uneventful, peaceful marriage, but was then thrust into another disastrous marriage with Manna, who he realized he never really loved, on top of of the two messy, loud twin babies they had to take care of, “It made him wonder why he cared for this married life, which was so tedious, so chaotic, and so exhausting” (257). So, when going back to visit his ex-wife and grown daughter he had with her, he became drunk and started to reveal all of the deep, ugly thoughts he had been having in the back of his mind to her, begging to him back.



Lin convinced Shuyu to wait for yet another one of his empty promises, like the idiot he is. But then, when his daughter came to visit him the day after, he began to regret his promise to come back to her, telling his daughter to not keep her hopes up in his future return.