Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
By: Jesse O'Conner
Laotong: type of relationship within the Chinese culture that bonded two girls together for eternity as kindred sisters. Lisa See’s novel, “Snow Flower and the Secret Fan”, takes us through the journey of 19th- century Chine in which girls had their feet found, meaning crushing their bones to the size of lily flowers. This ritual was considered beauty for a women and a thrilling sensation for men to look at. Staring the binding at the age of six and excruciating painful process that took two years to complete, Lily tells her story as an eighty year old woman. Lily was the second daughter to a poor farming family, but later encounters the privilege to be married out to a wealthy family in the village of Tongkou. Lily was married out to a wealthy noble man, whom she might have loved. But Lily had no bigger love other than her laotong, sworn sister, Snow Flower. The two were matched together at the age of seven, when together they promised each other, through a contract that they would always be laotong. Both endured the agony of footbinding, married out and shared their most inner thoughts and loving ways of motherhood. Lisa See writes delicately, telling the life of these two remarkable girls on their journey to pleasing their husbands, and mother in laws. Love and Friendship keep Snow Flower’s and Lily’s spirits alive when they are not together. Once married out, they didn’t see each other as often as they would have loved to, but their thoughts were jotted down in a silk fan, which included their whole journey together written in nu shu-secret writing for women. Lily and Snow Flower become “old same”, perfect match. Even though Snow Flower came from a higher family , Snow Flower was married out to a butcher, her first son was weak, and her second passed away. Her husband beats her and her mother in law was cruel. Hoping sympathy from her laotong, Snow Flower gets criticism and “just keep trying” in...
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