The chapter opens with a flashback to the beginning of the novel. The narrator tells the audience that the novel is set in the early nineteenth century, during the reign of Emperor Ming. Ming was the founder of the Ming dynasty, which ruled China from 1st to 10th century CE. Ming's father, the late Emperor Wu Ming, was a great scholar and politician, and the novel's title comes from his father's name, which means "great" in Chinese. In this passage, the narrator tells us that Ming was a good scholar, but he was not a great leader. He was not the best teacher, and he did not have a good sense of humor. He did not know how to express himself, and therefore did not understand what was happening around him. The chapter ends with the narrator asking the audience to imagine Ming as a child. He tells them that he was born into a wealthy family, but that his parents were poor, and that he had no money, so he had to live on his parents' wages. He also tells them about how Ming had suffered a great deal in his life, and how he had almost died from exhaustion. He asks the audience if they would like to hear more about Ming, and they agree that they do.