The Hundred Secret Senses

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The Hundred Secret Senses
Sometimes in life, it is easy to judge a person and situation without first understanding all of the facts. In The Hundred Secret Senses, a romance and mystery novel, Amy Tan tells the story of Olivia and her half-sister Kwan – how they grow up together and help each other, while also depicting Kwan’s former life in China, and Olivia’s relationship with her love, Simon.

The novel has two main characters, Kwan and Olivia. Kwan and Olivia share the same father, but after his death, Kwan moves to California to live with Olivia’s family. Kwan is extremely annoying, and her broken English doesn’t help in the slightest, yet she cares deeply about those around her and is very loyal. Throughout the novel, Olivia has a lack of understanding towards Kwan and other people in her life that she cares about. She seems to misunderstand the motives of people, which is why she is usually upset and contemplative. Her personality is selfish, thinking that the world is against her, yet this mindset is what creates the complex, yet beautiful story.

Olivia, the main character, is weakened by her relationships with those around her, especially Kwan and Simon. She is saddened and confused at her sister’s kind actions towards her, when she is only ungrateful and annoyed of her. She even admits to it by saying “I didn’t know how much she hungered for love, any kind. Sweet love didn’t last, and it was too hard to find. But rotten love - there was plenty to fill the hollow. So that’s what she grew accustomed to, that’s what she took as soon as it came back.” Olivia has to overcome her anger towards not only Kwan, but also her husband, Simon. Because Simon’s girlfriend before Olivia died, Simon is incredibly distraught, and he even talks about her as if she were still alive. Olivia becomes exceedingly jealous and it even causes her to want to divorce him later in their marriage. During Olivia’s discussion with Kwan about a possible divorce, she says “Sure I...
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