Wu is in her mid-twenties and lives with her mother in a traditional one-story house in one of Beijing’s hutongs. Both consider themselves to be writers, but success has so far eluded them. The fact that Wu is supported by a divorced, elderly man helps the women through lean periods. Their unhealthily close relationship is characterized by reproaches and quibbling; only during meals do they appear to lay down their verbal weapons. The situation escalates when both Wu and her mother hit an emotional low.