Girl in Translation

Uncle Bob Character Analysis

Uncle Bob is Aunt Paula's husband; he's a wealthy Chinese-American who went to Hong Kong to find a wife. Kim learns later that he did this because Uncle Bob has a limp and walks with a cane, and thus needs someone who can care for him and his assets. Though he technically owns the factory, he allows Paula to do most of the work of running it, and as time goes on, he's seldom there. When Kim or Ma do confront him about their subpar living situation, he brushes them off and distracts them by buying them iced tea.

Uncle Bob Quotes in Girl in Translation

The Girl in Translation quotes below are all either spoken by Uncle Bob or refer to Uncle Bob. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Poverty and Shame Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Riverhead edition of Girl in Translation published in 2010.
One Quotes

Nelson rolled his eyes. "Welcome to America," he said loudly for the adults' benefit. He leaned in to pretend to kiss my cheek and said softly, "You're a rake filled with dirt." A stupid country bumpkin. This time, his tones were perfect.

[…] I felt a flush crawl up my neck, then I smiled and pretended to kiss him back. "At least I'm not a potato with incense sticks for legs," I whispered.

The adults beamed.

Related Characters: Kim (speaker), Nelson (speaker), Ma, Aunt Paula, Uncle Bob
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:
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"Never forget, we owe Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob a great debt. Because they got us out of Hong Kong and brought us here to America, the Golden Mountain."

Related Characters: Ma (speaker), Kim , Aunt Paula, Uncle Bob
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
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Uncle Bob Character Timeline in Girl in Translation

The timeline below shows where the character Uncle Bob appears in Girl in Translation. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
One
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...in which eleven-year-old Kim searched futilely for skyscrapers and the Liberty Goddess, Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob park the car in a run-down, dirty neighborhood. Everyone gets out of the car. Uncle... (full context)
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...first week in the U.S. in Aunt Paula's house on Staten Island. Kim met her Uncle Bob for the first time and realized that though he's a rich man, he married Paula... (full context)
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
...was never truly meant for them. She reminded Kim that they owe Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob a great debt for bringing them to the U.S. Kim explains that then, it was... (full context)
Two
Poverty and Shame Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
Independence and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...and Paula leads them to the office. As soon as they're in the office with Uncle Bob , Paula declares that they can't talk for long or it'll look like favoritism. Ma... (full context)
Four
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
...she still gets paid in cash like the illegal workers so that Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob can take their debt payment directly from Ma's paycheck. By the time they've taken money... (full context)
Five
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Independence and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...angry when Ma married Pa. Ma admits that she'd been the one intended to marry Uncle Bob . The next day, Kim and Ma ask Aunt Paula about the apartment. Paula insists... (full context)
Eight
Poverty and Shame Theme Icon
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
...help Mr. Pak release his hand, and Kim tries not to look. Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob arrive, and Paula yells at Mr. Pak to not be so clumsy. She shouts that... (full context)
Ten
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Immigrant Experience Theme Icon
Aunt Paula and Uncle Bob invite Kim and Ma to accompany them to see Nelson's debate competition. Apparently, he's very... (full context)
Eleven
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
Independence and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...later at the factory, Aunt Paula starts yelling that the inspectors are coming. She and Uncle Bob race around, cleaning up and ushering children into secret places. Kim ends up in a... (full context)
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
Uncle Bob begins spending less and less time at the factory, and Aunt Paula effectively takes over... (full context)
Thirteen
Poverty and Shame Theme Icon
Family, Choices, and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Work vs. Education Theme Icon
Independence and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...Ma would die in Hong Kong. Ma says that she knows she would've regretted marrying Uncle Bob and doesn't regret marrying Pa. Kim notes that choosing to be together like that isn't... (full context)