The most intriguing character in The Jade Peony

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Topics: Family
In the Jade Peony of Wayson Choy, poh-poh or the grandmama seems to be the most intriguing character. Her character is complex for her grandchildren who are the narrators of the novel and therefore complicated for the reader of the novel; but not so complicated for their neighbour Mrs. Lim or even Father and stepmother who are from the generation in between. Even though Poh-poh’s character is not the narrator, she is present throughout the story even after her death. In each of the three stories, she is mentioned, described, or quoted by the narrators. She has a huge impact on all narrators. Poh-poh like any other grandparent likes to teach her culture, traditions, and language to her grandchildren. The only difference is that her grandchildren are born and growing up in a different country than hers. In the hierarchy of the home she has the highest ranking, and is the most respected at home. She is consistent, kind, fair, tough, loyal, and traditional.
Poh-poh is consistent about her traditions and culture. She really has faith in her superstitions and in signs of the universe that even after her death everyone in the family inclines to believe Sek-lung’s stories of seeing Poh-poh’s ghost. Or at least everyone doubts that he might be right. In the end, father had no choice but to hold a formal ceremony for the old one’s death, to make sure that her ghost is gone, and will not wonder around their house anymore.
Poh-poh is consistent throughout the story. For example, she would not give up her “die soon nonsense” as father calls it. She keeps trying to fool gods and convince them to go away, to not bother killing her since she will die soon anyway. In another instance, she keeps calling Liang a “useless girl” to the extent that it seems like a training tool for her. As if she uses this phrase not to hurt her granddaughter but to make her stronger. Make her to face what she eventually will face in the society; even if she is going to live in a relatively modern



Cited: Wayson, Choy. The Jade Peony. Vancouver, B.C. Douglas & McIntyre, 1995. Print.

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