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The Kitchen Gods

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The Kitchen Gods

by Gulielma Fell Alsop

Genre: Drama
Format of Original Source: Short Story
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Likely


Candles were stuck everywhere on the tables and benches. They threw little pools of light on the floor before the stove and looked at the empty niche. In the night it was merely a black hole in the stove filled with formless shadow. She wished–

“Dong-Yung, Flower in the House, where hast thou hidden the kitchen gods? Put them in their place.” Foh-Kyung, still in imperial yellow, stood like a sun in the doorway.

Dong-Yung turned.


“Put them back, little Jewel in the Hair. It is not permitted to worship the spirit God. There are bars and gates. The spirit of man must turn back in the searching, turn back to the images of plaster and paint.”

Dong-Yung let the wall of fog slide over her. She dropped her resistance. She knew.

“Nay, not the spirit of man. It is but natural that the great God does not wish the importunings of a small wife. Worship thou alone the great God, and the shadow of that worship will fall on my heart.”

“Nay, I cannot worship alone. My worship is not acceptable in the sight of the foreign God. My ways are not his ways.”

Foh-Kyung’s face was unlined and calm, yet Dong-Yung felt the hidden agony of his soul, flung back from its quest upon gods of plaster and paint.

“But I know the thoughts of thy heart, O Lord and Master, white and fragrant as the lily-buds that opened to-day. Has thy wish changed?”

“Nay, my wish is even the same, but it is not permitted to a man of two wives to be a follower of the spirit God.”


The author was a missionary to China for nine years; still, does this version of Chinese people in a Western world ring at all true…? We would probably recommend different source material if you’re looking for a Chinese tale to tell.


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