Unpolished Gem

by

Alice Pung

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Alice’s aunt, Huyen Thai’s daughter, and Kuan’s sister. Que moves to Australia with her mother, brother, and Kien, and they all live together for a while when they first arrive in Footscray. Que is strong and capable, and she works counting money at Kuan’s electronics store. She lives most of her life with her mother, who dies in her home after suffering a stroke.
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Que Character Timeline in Unpolished Gem

The timeline below shows where the character Que appears in Unpolished Gem. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
...Kuan and Kien first arrive in Australia with Kuan’s mother, Huyen Thai, and his sister, Que. The Pungs are fascinated as they walk down the street. “Wah! Look at that!” says... (full context)
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
...by the size, selection, and cleanliness of the store. “Ay, stop gawking like such peasants,” Que says. This is Que’s second trip to the market, and she is quickly becoming an... (full context)
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
At home, Kien cuts the meat and prepares a stir-fry. “It smells so good,” says Que as she piles the hot food on a plate. That night while watching television, the... (full context)
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
...from kindergarten with crafts made from macaroni noodles and construction paper, Kien, Huyen Thai, and Que “wah over it” and display each piece prominently. Alice and her brother, Alexander, make paper... (full context)
Part 2
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
Gender and Inequality Theme Icon
...This time she is constantly sick and swollen, yet Kien insists on continuing to work. Que decides that it will be easier if Huyen Thai comes to live with her, and... (full context)
Gender and Inequality Theme Icon
...the hair in the Buddha shrine. “Ah,” Huyen Thai says. “This hair is your Auntie Que’s.” She tells Alice that whenever she cut her daughter’s hair, she would keep a piece. (full context)
Part 3
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Marriage Theme Icon
...is,” and she tells Kien to come and dig them up right away. Kien and Que dig several holes, but they don’t find any gold. (full context)
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
Kien wishes that she could work in Kuan’s shop counting the money like Que, but she doesn’t speak English. “I am a useless person!” Kien cries. Her doctor diagnoses... (full context)
Part 4
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...be there—he’s always there—and he always needs help filling out forms or running newspaper ads. Que tells Alice that her father is at the hospital. Alice freezes. “Why?” she asks. Huyen... (full context)
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
Gender and Inequality Theme Icon
...she is discharged from the hospital, Kuan finds a caregiver to look after her at Que’s house. Huyen Thai requires twenty-four-hour care, but she is “not the softest soul to look... (full context)
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
Language and Storytelling Theme Icon
...She thinks of King Lear and Huyen Thai going mad incapacitated all day long at Que’s house alone. (full context)
Epilogue
Culture and Assimilation  Theme Icon
Family, Love, and Marriage Theme Icon
...she is laying in the grass “with no shame,” and Alice looks around the cemetery. Que is setting a bowl of soup on top of a grave, and another aunt puts... (full context)