Memoirs of a Geisha

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Memoirs of a Geisha Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Having never heard of a jorou-ya before, Chiyo asks Auntie what the word means the next day. Auntie says that it’s the sort of place Hatsumomo will end up if she gets what she deserves. Chiyo wants to look for Satsu at the address but, as part of her punishment, she can’t leave the okiya for fifty days except to go to school. To help pass the time, Chiyo gets back at Hatsumomo by putting pigeon droppings in her makeup.
Auntie’s comment foreshadows that Satsu might have it even worse than Chiyo. Chiyo’s revenge also reverses the beautifying function of makeup. While makeup is an artifice that both conceals and enhances one’s true features, the pigeon dung symbolically brings out the truth of Hatsumomo’s personality by making Hatsumomo’s appearance (and smell) as unappealing as her inner self.
Themes
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon
While still barred from leaving the okiya, Chiyo receives an order one night from a senior maid to go out to give Hatsumomo her shamisen (instrument). Chiyo decides that this is her chance to see Satsu. Not telling the maid about the punishment, Chiyo goes to do the errand. Chiyo brings the shamisen to the teahouse where Hatsumomo is entertaining, and gives the instrument to a maid who works there. From there, Chiyo goes to the address that Hatsumomo gave her. When she enters the district where the jorou-ya is located, Chiyo sees women wearing kimono with their obis tied in front. Though Chiyo doesn’t know it at the time, only prostitutes wear their obis in the front. Since prostitutes have to untie their obis all night, they don’t bother tying them up in the back.
Chiyo’s disobedience shows that she is only willing to conform to the rules of the okiya when it suits her. As a young girl, Chiyo still tries to take control over her life. Despite being brought to the okiya against her will, she does whatever she can to resist her situation, not letting anyone put restrictions on her. Satsu appears to work at a brothel, which once again emphasizes Tanaka’s betrayal. He might have seemed like a kind man, but he actually sold Satsu, a young teenager, into the sex trade against her will.
Themes
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Soon after Chiyo finds the jorou-ya and steps inside, Satsu comes down the stairs. Her lips are painted a garish red and her skin is pale, and she has her obi tied in the front. When she sees Chiyo, she lets out a cry. She pulls Chiyo into a room and says that they must be quiet because Satsu will get a beating if the mistress of the jorou-ya finds out Chiyo came to see her. They hug, and Satsu strokes her hair in a way that reminds Chiyo of their mother. As Chiyo begins to cry, Satsu says she can’t live in this place any longer. Over the last few months, Satsu has saved up enough money to run away. She plans to catch a train out of the city, and says Chiyo should come with her. They agree to meet five days from now at one a.m., near the famous Minamiz theater.
In Yoroido, Satsu was not responsible enough to even make a cup of tea, but now she has clearly grown into a resourceful and strong-willed young woman—a result of surviving what we can only imagine to be the traumatic experience of working at the brothel. While Satsu cried on the train and when they met Ms. Fidget, now Chiyo is the one crying. In this way, Satsu has quickly matured and transformed into an effective substitute for Chiyo’s mother, comforting her as a good mother would do.
Themes
Growing Up Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Chiyo runs back to the okiya and is happy to find everyone asleep and no one looking for her. But then Chiyo notices movement in a side room. Thinking it’s a rat, she goes to investigate, only to find Hatsumomo on her back with her boyfriend between her legs. Hatsumomo glances at Chiyo, but the boyfriend doesn’t realize she’s there. Chiyo runs back to the spot where she usually waits for Hatsumomo to come home. Hatsumomo’s boyfriend soon emerges from the room and angrily says he’s tired of sneaking around, and that he’s not coming back tomorrow. Hatsumomo pleads with him to stay, but he walks out.
The boyfriend’s reasons for leaving indicate that he is fed up with the artifices and lies of the geisha world. By rejecting the deception and hiding, he is in effect rejecting Hatsumomo’s life as a geisha, which revolves around hiding her skin under artificial makeup, her body under layers of clothing, and her cruelty under the appearance of politeness. On the other hand, it’s entirely possible that he was just using Hatsumomo for sex, and abandons her when it becomes inconvenient for him.
Themes
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
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Taking her anger out on Chiyo, Hatsumomo says that Chiyo wasn’t at the okiya when she came home. Hatsumomo accuses Chiyo of going to see her sister, and says that she knows Chiyo must have made plans to run away with Satsu. To Chiyo’s surprise, Hatsumomo then gives her some money and says that she hopes their escape is a success, because she hopes never to see Chiyo again. After stuffing the money into Chiyo’s kimono, Hatsumomo looks down at Chiyo with a motherly gaze. But before Chiyo can react, Hatsumomo viciously grabs Chiyo’s hair and shouts at her, pulling her towards Mother’s room.
Like Mother, Hatsumomo adopts a “motherly gaze” in order to hide her true, selfish intentions. Satsu, by contrast, is genuinely motherly, comforting Chiyo as she cries. Mother and Hatsumomo use the appearance of motherliness as an illusion or artifice to get what they want, while Satsu acts with true motherly compassion in order to comfort her sister.
Themes
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Waking up all the maids, Hatsumomo bangs on Mother’s door until she comes out. Hatsumomo says she saw Chiyo selling Hatsumomo’s emerald brooch to a man near the okiya. Chiyo says that Hatsumomo is a liar who is just trying to get revenge on her because she saw Hatsumomo with her boyfriend, who left just a few minutes ago. Mother has the maids search Chiyo and they find the money. Though Chiyo doubts that Mother actually believes Hatsumomo’s story, Mother says that the price of the gem will be added to Chiyo’s debt.
Once again, Mother’s actions reveal that she cares more about money than about the truth. Chiyo’s accusation of Hatsumomo also shows that she is a defiant young girl who isn’t willing to suffer any injustices without a fight. Yet, in order to succeed as a geisha in her new life, she will learn to curb this personality trait—ultimately making her less ready to assert her own will and desires.
Themes
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Beauty, Artifice, and Truth  Theme Icon
Growing Up Theme Icon
Mother then turns to Hatsumomo and accuses her of having her boyfriend over. When Hatsumomo denies it, Mother makes the maids hold Hatsumomo’s arms apart. Mother pulls Hatsumomo’s kimono open and sticks her fingers between her legs. To Chiyo’s surprise, Hatsumomo doesn’t resist. When Mother pulls her fingers out, they are wet. Mother draws back her arm and slaps Hatsumomo, leaving a streak of moisture on her face.
Hatsumomo’s lack of resistance shows that – after years of being a sexual object – she has internalized the belief that her body belongs to Mother and the okiya. With the slap Mother humiliates Hatsumomo for acting on her desires – arguably an act of self-determination. Mother wants Hatsumomo to remain a sexual object for the pleasure of the men she entertains, not a woman in control of her own body.
Themes
Destiny vs. Self-Determination Theme Icon
Sex and Love Theme Icon
Tradition, Ritual, and Gender Theme Icon