Min is a self-sacrificing person who keeps to herself and feels responsible for making Tian happy. Min says of her relationship with Tian, “Since our marriage, I had watched over his eating and sleeping habits, but I needed to spend more time mending his clothes and coaxing him to buy new ones” (21). Tian doesn’t recognize all the sacrifices that Min takes for him and because of this she should stand up for herself, but maybe she’s afraid that Tian might leave her. Min works really hard to make life for Tian good, but he doesn’t really appreciate what she does and she can’t do anything about it because she is intimidated by him. Their relationship also suffers when Min tells Tian that she is pregnant and he, though stating to be happy, tells her, “But after this child is born, I think you should go to the doctor again. To ask for one of those things” (27). Min wants to have more children especially a boy, to make Tian happier, but Tian tells Min to get a diaphragm so she can’t get pregnant anytime soon. All Min wants to do is make Tian’s life as happy as possible, but it seems that all Tian cares about is his music career. In the end Min is miserable because she does not know how to please Tian, when there really isn’t anything she can do. Showing a Change
Many changes in character happen in this book, but one of the most important changes must be Ruth’s change. After Ruth was born, it seemed as if Tian became happier. Tian enjoyed playing with his daughter as “She allowed him to tickle her, squirmed, and giggled until Tian’s mouth twitched. ‘Mushroom head,’ he said finally. ‘Rice bucket’” (45). When Ruth was born, Tian seemed to spend a lot of time with her. He seemed to be happier because Ruth resembled his family in a way. Min didn’t mind this because she was happy Tian was happy. When Ruth got old enough she started to learn to play the violin. From time to time she would disobey her dad just to play around, but maybe this is a sign that in the future there could be a change. As time goes on Ruth starts disobeying Tian more and more and finally tells him that, “I don’t like playing the violin. In fact, I never liked it. I hate it, as a matter of fact” (86). Because her father pushed to play the violin so much she finally cries out to Tian that she hates the violin, and wants to play the guitar. This is a major change for Ruth since she has been playing the violin for all of her life. Later on Ruth changes even more by eventually leaving the house. Lastly, after Tian passes away she comes back home, but leaves again and tells Min she is getting married to a man she doesn’t even love. In the end, Ruth goes from goes from a sweet girl, to a rebellious teen, who leaves her home. Compare/Contrast
In this book there are several characters that can be compared to one another. Two characters that are important in the book are Anna and Ruth. Throughout the book Anna and Ruth are learning how to play the violin, and though Anna enjoys it, Ruth does not and eventually reveals this fact when she states “I don’t like the violin. In fact, I never liked it” (86). As Ruth gets older, she doesn’t really need to work very hard to get her father’s attention, which she takes for granted. All her father is trying to do is make Ruth’s life better, but Ruth doesn’t see it that way so Ruth and her father constantly fight, which eventually makes her leave. On the other hand, Anna needs to work hard to get her father’s attention so she tries her best to learn how to play well, but it doesn’t come as easy for Anna. She had to practice much harder never wasting a moment and even “At meals she spent more hours pressing her fingers into the tablecloth” (44) to strengthen her fingers. Anna tries her best to learn the different notes, but she doesn’t have the right hearing to get it completely so Tian focuses more on teaching Ruth how to play the violin. For the rest of the book Anna works hard on other things than music, and eventually goes to Columbia, while Ruth eventually gives up the violin and leaves the house. If we compare these two girls, it’s easier to see that Anna had to work a little more, but her life is much better in the end.