By Jean Fong Kwok
Pop Quiz! (Answer in a 1-word response)
Where did the story take place?
2. What was the main character’s name?
3. What did the main character wear for
4. What type of Chinese did the main character
5. What did the main character do for a job?
• Lurched
– To sway suddenly
• Rancid
– Stinky
• Compassion
– Pity
• Desolate
– Lonely
• Insistently
– In a demeaning manner
Literary Terms
• Exposition
– Mrs. Chen is on the subway in Chinatown, heading home.
• Rising Action
– Mrs. Chen dozes off and begins to dream about the past.
• Climax
– Mrs. Chen wakes up and has missed her stop; she is lost.
• Falling Action
– Mrs. Chen finds help from a Chinese student.
• Resolution
– Mrs. Chen gets home safely.
Literary Terms
• What was the conflict of “Disguises”?
– Mrs. Chen is lost in Chinatown and speaks little English.
• What point of view was the story told in?
– 3rd Person limited
• What is the setting of “Disguises”?
– Chinatown at night.
• Give an example of a flashback in the story?
– When Mrs. Chen thinks about her mother praying or her boss’s
reaction to the skirt she sewed at work.
• What is Mrs. Chen’s characterization?
– Little, curly hair, flowered skirt, Cantonese
Reading Questions
• Why do you think Mrs. Chen dreams of her past while on
the subway?
– She’s looking for some comfort while she’s in a foreign land.
• What contributes to Mrs. Chen’s fear when she discovers
she is lost?
– She was recently mugged.
• How does Mrs. Chen find her way home?
– A Chinese student helps her.
• How does the setting contribute to Mrs. Chen’s
challenges of being lost?
– No one speaks her language (Cantonese).
Reading Questions
• At the end of the story, Mrs. Chen is back at home, sewing
her torn skirt. What does this action reveal about her life or
– She’s hardworking and determined.
• What is the significance of the story being titled “Disguises”?
– People often feel “disguised” when they’re in a confusing or
unfamiliar situation; they want protection.
• “I invite the goddess Juan Yin…”
– As Mrs. Chen prays, she feels a hand close to her ear trying to reach
for the amulet as though it were trying to take it before she could
finish her prayer. Mrs. Chen freaks out and runs away to the steps of
the station where she sees the Chinese student.
– What does this scenario suggest? What about in terms of “disguises”?

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