In the novel The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan, there are two general contrasting settings: China and America. Not only to these two places differ geographically, but they also differ in customs and heritage. Both settings also contain different meanings for those who call it home. The contrast of these two settings help the book show that its theme of "You must know your past in order to know where you're going" is universal.
Both places are seeped in tradition and culture. Tan shows China as an old ladn that is experiencing changes, but is unwilling to adapt. The difficulty of retrieving the Peking Man, the family doggedly selling ink despite its poor quality and sales, and the failure of the Japanese invasion all point to the way that China is slow to accept changes. On the other hand, Tan describes America as the complete opposite. America accepts change happily. It is a land where a man can change from a hero to a villain to pedophile in less than a week, . This is shown by the rapid change in setting in America, each setting only lasting a chapter before leaping to a different place. On the other hand, China only had three main settings: the village of Immortal Heart, the orphanage, and Hong Kong. Basically, America represents change and dynamics and China represents tradition and convention.
This contrast in settings helps the book as a whole because the book is already split into two stories: the tale of Ruth in America, and the narrative of LuLing in China. Each story accentuates its setting. LuLing (mostly) followed the old traditions in the ancient spirit of China. Ruth, however, enjoyed a fiery rebellion against her mother in the boisterousness that was the essence of America. (Although LuLing did have the occasional quarrel with Precious Auntie, these squabbles were mere breezes next to the gales between herself and Ruth.)
LuLing lived a rather uneventful life in China as a child. Yet, when it became time for her to know the truth of her...
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