Memoirs of a Geisha

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Memoirs of a Geisha Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the night of the engagement, Sayuri arrives to find the Chairman all alone in the reception room. Startled to see him after all these years, Sayuri can barely speak. The Chairman invites Sayuri over to sit with him and wait for the others to arrive. As she sits next to him, she notices creases around his eyes and the skin sagging around his mouth, all of which she thinks give his face more dignity. The Chairman tells her that she is still a beautiful woman, but before they have time to talk, Pumpkin and Mameha arrive.
This brief encounter with the Chairman suggests that truth is sometimes more beautiful than the illusory or the imaginary. Interestingly, the things Sayuri finds beautiful about the Chairman are not traditionally good-looking attributes—her love for him might actually make him appear more handsome. Love can affect one’s perceptions of other people’s outward appearances.
Themes
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Pumpkin is wearing a beautiful kimono that she says she rented from the another okiya. When Pumpkin bluntly says that she’s never going to pay the okiya for renting her the kimono, the Chairman laughs cheerfully at her forthrightness. Pumpkin asks where the “big shot” businessman is. The Chairman chuckles and says that if she is referring to Sato, then he will be here soon. Pumpkin says that she knows Sato and that he looks like a big pig. Everyone laughs at her bluntness just as Nobu and Sato arrive.
Compared to most geisha who conceal their true opinions and feelings, Pumpkin is blunt and honest. The Chairman seems to find this refreshing, which indicates that he might eventually fall in love with Pumpkin—instead of with Sayuri, who has hidden her true feelings of love for the Chairman for years.
Themes
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
The group eats and then plays a drinking game where everyone goes around telling two stories – one truth and one lie. Pumpkin tells funny, ribald stories and the men seem to be having a good time. When it’s Sayuri’s turn, she considers telling the story about meeting the Chairman when she was a young girl. But after considering that the Chairman paid little attention to her that night, she decides not to tell it. Not very good at the game, Pumpkin and Sato quickly get drunk. When the Chairman leaves to walk Pumpkin home, Nobu asks how Sato enjoyed his evening. Smiling and nodding, he says he enjoyed it very much.
Here Sayuri has the opportunity to show her honesty, a trait that might impress the Chairman, who seemed to value such honesty in Pumpkin. Yet Sayuri’s fears of being too forward and breaking the unspoken code of a geisha’s silence prevent her from expressing herself. Her own fears and the sexist traditions of society stop her from taking control over her life by finally telling the Chairman her true feelings.
Themes
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon