Little Fires Everywhere

by

Celeste Ng

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Mia Warren’s coworker at Lucky Palace, a local Chinese restaurant. Bebe confides in Mia about her life, revealing that a year ago she had a baby, but was forced to leave her at a fire station when she was unable to properly care for her. Mia puts two and two together, and alerts Bebe to the fact that her daughter is in the process of being adopted by the McCulloughs. Bebe then files a suit against the state for custody of her daughter, leading to a scandal and media circus that rocks Shaker Heights and forces each character, in their own way, to reckon with big questions about family, race, care, and “who gets to parent.” Bebe ultimately loses her case, but takes her daughter, May Ling, from the McCulloughs’ house and leaves for China. Bebe’s actions connect directly to the book’s larger themes of identity, heritage, and assimilation, as well as motherhood, altruism, and disruption of social and societal order.

Bebe Chow Quotes in Little Fires Everywhere

The Little Fires Everywhere quotes below are all either spoken by Bebe Chow or refer to Bebe Chow. 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:
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin Books edition of Little Fires Everywhere published in 2017.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Listen to this dumbass question,” [Lexie] groaned, fishing the application from her bag. “Rewrite a famous story from a different perspective. For example, retell The Wizard of Oz from the point of view of the Wicked Witch.”
“How about a fairy tale,” Moody suggested. “‘Cinderella’ from the point of view of the stepsisters.”
“‘Little Red Riding Hood’ as told by the wolf,” Pearl suggested.
“Or ‘Rumplestiltskin,’” Lexie mused. “That miller’s daughter cheated him. He did all that spinning for her and she said she’d give him her baby and then she reneged. Maybe she’s the villain here. She shouldn’t have agreed to give up her baby in the first place, if she didn’t want to.”
“Well,” Mia put in suddenly. “Maybe she didn’t know what she was giving up. Maybe once she saw the baby she changed her mind. Don’t be too quick to judge.”

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Pearl Warren (speaker), Moody Richardson (speaker), Lexie Richardson (speaker), Bebe Chow, Linda and Mark McCullough
Page Number: 54-55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

Mia thought suddenly of those moments at the restaurant, after the dinner rush had ended and things were quiet, when Bebe sometimes rested her elbows on the counter and drifted away. Mia understood exactly where she drifted to. To a parent, your child wasn’t just a person: your child was a place, a kind of Narnia, a vast eternal place where the present you were living and the past you remembered and the future you longed for all existed at once. It was a place you could take refuge, if you knew how to get in. And each time you left it, each time your child passed out of your sight, you feared you might never be able to return to that place again.

Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

It came, over and over, down to this: What made someone a mother? Was it biology alone, or was it love?

Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:

For [Mrs. Richardson] it was simple: Bebe Chow had been a poor mother; Linda McCullough had been a good one. One had followed the rules, and one had not. But the problem with rules, [Mr. Richardson] reflected, was that they implied a right way and a wrong way to do things. When, in fact, most of the time there were simply ways, none of them quite wrong or quite right, and nothing to tell you for sure which side of the line you stood on.

Page Number: 269
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

“Is she going to be okay?”
“She’s going to survive, if that’s what you mean.” Mia stroked Izzy’s hair. It was like Pearl’s, like her own had been as a little girl: the more you tried to smooth it, the more she insisted on springing free. “She’s going to get through this because she has to.”
“But how?”
“I don’t know, honestly. But she will. Sometimes, just when you think everything’s gone, you find a way. Like after a prairie fire. I saw one, years ago. It seems like the end of the world. The earth is scorched and black and everything green is gone. But after the burning the soil is richer, and new things can grow. People are like that, too, you know. They start over. They find a way.”

Related Characters: Mia Warren (speaker), Izzy Richardson (speaker), Bebe Chow
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 295
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Little Fires Everywhere LitChart as a printable PDF.
Little Fires Everywhere PDF

Bebe Chow Character Timeline in Little Fires Everywhere

The timeline below shows where the character Bebe Chow appears in Little Fires Everywhere. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...to earn some more money on the side—and Mia recalls a conversation with a coworker, Bebe Chow, in which Bebe confessed to having left her child at a fire station about... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Mia knows that Bebe is now “desperate” to find her child, and Mia feels that Bebe is stable now.... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
On Tuesday evening, Pearl and Mia’s doorbell rings, and someone knocks frantically at the door. Bebe Chow has arrived, having been turned away from the McCullough house. After knocking and ringing... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...to the coverage on the news the night before. The news did an interview with Bebe, who told the team that she has her life together and that the McCulloughs have... (full context)
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Bebe stops at Mia’s house to tell her that the team who interviewed her believes her... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...As she leaves the table, she suggests to her father that the McCulloughs “bargain” with Bebe and “pay her off.” Mrs. Richardson plans to confiscate Izzy’s beloved Doc Martens. (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
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Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...the newspaper about the McCullough case, Mrs. Richardson comes across a tidbit which describes how Bebe was informed of her daughter’s whereabouts by one of her coworkers at Lucky Palace—a coworker... (full context)
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...she can look her “in the eyes.” Rather than confronting Mia about her involvement with Bebe, Mrs. Richardson privately resolves to intensify her own investigation into Mia’s past, though she refuses... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...McCulloughs, as does Mr. Richardson, while Moody and Izzy, inspired by Pearl and Mia, take Bebe’s side. Lexie and Brian also argue amongst themselves about May Ling—Brian’s father has sided with... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Bebe Chow has attained visitation rights with her daughter, once a week for two hours, a... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...the afternoon, Mia comes home to work on her photos. Lexie overhears her speaking to Bebe on the phone, and when Lexie emerges from the room, the two discuss the case.... (full context)
Chapter 16
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
By the first day of the custody hearing, many news stories concerning Bebe’s fitness as a mother have run on the television and in the paper. While some... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...begins, and Mr. Richardson and Ed Lim, in telling the “slow, painfully intimate story” of Bebe’s abandonment of May Ling, turn each other’s arguments on their heads over and over again.... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
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Ed Lim describes Bebe’s leaving May Ling as “tucking her daughter onto a safe ledge while she herself plummeted.”... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...surprised to hear that Lexie’s perspective has shifted—she feels a great deal of sympathy for Bebe now. Izzy is suspicious, and Moody describes the case as one which will tear families... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...judge that might sway the case in her favor. Mrs. McCullough mentions that she thought Bebe looked pregnant a few months ago—she had gained weight and had thrown up on a... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...known. Mrs. Richardson feels a “snake of disappointment—she had been looking forward to ferreting out Bebe’s past.” Mr. Richardson reveals that Bebe took the news “hard,” screaming, crying, and needing to... (full context)
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A distraught Bebe seeks comfort at Mia’s house. Her visitation rights have been terminated and no further contact... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...not learn the news until she arrives home from her afternoon with Trip to find Bebe still at her kitchen table. Pearl retreats to her room, and Mia tells Bebe that... (full context)
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The McCulloughs hold a press conference in which they remind the press that “Bebe abandoned [her child]” and that the court’s decision to place “Mirabelle” with the McCulloughs “speaks... (full context)
Order vs. Disruption Theme Icon
Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...order or morals. Furthermore, she reveals that she has known all along that Mia told Bebe Chow about May Ling’s whereabouts. As a final blow to Mia, she says that Pearl,... (full context)
Chapter 19
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Altruism and Manipulation Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...Izzy. Izzy is confused because the door has never been locked before. She asks if Bebe is still inside, but Mia tells her she has gone home. Izzy asks if Pearl... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
Across town, Bebe sits on the curb across the street from the McCulloughs’ house. She imagines Linda McCullough... (full context)
Chapter 20
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Identity: Heritage, Assimilation, and Transience Theme Icon
...the night—while they slept peacefully as “they hadn’t for months,” May Ling was taken by Bebe, and the two have absconded to China. The police have told them there is “almost... (full context)