Chinese Cinderella

Chinese Cinderella

Ye Ye is the father of Adeline’s Father and Aunt Baba, husband of Grandmother Nai Nai, and thus the grandfather of all of the children. He lives with the family and is dependent on them to live. Although Ye Ye should be the patriarch of the family and play a role of authority, he is subjugated by Niang (and by Father’s commitment to her), becoming over the course of the memoir a sad, defeated old man “imprisoned by his love for his only son.” However, Ye Ye is compassionate toward his grandchildren, whom Niang and Father mistreat, secretly giving them money to pay the tram fare and giving much-needed love and affirmation to Adeline. Ye Ye expresses that he is saddened by the way many of the children turned out, especially Big Sister, and he hopes that Adeline will rise to a better future through her intelligence and compassion. In this way, Ye Ye plays a vital role in Adeline’s development and recognition of her own worth. He encourages Adeline to believe in her ability to shape her own destiny and to reject the messages she has received from Niang, Father, and her siblings, which ultimately gives her the necessary initiative to enter the playwriting competition (which becomes her way of escaping the abuse of her family). Ye Ye dies near the end of the story and is given a Buddhist funeral, of which he was a devout practitioner.

Grandfather Ye Ye Quotes in Chinese Cinderella

The Chinese Cinderella quotes below are all either spoken by Grandfather Ye Ye or refer to Grandfather Ye Ye. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Ember edition of Chinese Cinderella published in 2010.
Chapter 7: Family Reunion Quotes

In those few moments, we had understood everything. Not only about Niang, but also about all the grown-ups. Now that Nai Nai was dead, there was no doubt about who was in charge.

Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 9: Chinese New Year Quotes

I was no longer the lonely little girl bullied by her siblings. Instead, I was the female warrior Mulan, who would rescue her aunt and Ye Ye from harm.

Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 14: Class President Quotes

“When you’ve reached my age, you know which children are weak and which are strong. Don’t ask her too many questions. Don’t criticize her or tear her down. I don’t want her to grow up like Big Sister. She is going to be different!”

Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 17: Boarding School in Hong Kong Quotes

Afterward, Ye Ye and I sat by ourselves on the long couch, not saying a word. I looked at my grandfather defeated and resigned with a blanket around his drooping shoulders in the blistering heat, his face contorted with sadness and anguish. A tired old man with no one to turn to, imprisoned by his love for his only son.

Page Number: 159
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 20: Pneumonia Quotes

“Don’t talk like that! … You mustn’t talk like that! You have your whole life ahead of you. Everything is possible! I’ve tried to tell you over and over that far from being garbage, you are precious and special. Being on top of your class merely confirms this. But you can vanquish the demons only when you yourself are convinced of your own worth.”

Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
Chapter 21: Playwriting Competition Quotes

Into her lips I injected my loneliness, isolation, and feeling of being unwanted. To my heroine I gave everything of myself.

Page Number: 184
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Grandfather Ye Ye Character Timeline in Chinese Cinderella

The timeline below shows where the character Grandfather Ye Ye appears in Chinese Cinderella. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2: A Tianjin Family
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
The parents, children, Grandfather Ye Ye , Grandmother Nai Nai, and Aunt Baba live together in one house in Tianjin, a... (full context)
Chapter 4: Life in Tianjin
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...terribly stressed—Japanese businessmen often arrive suddenly at the house. One day, Father simply disappears. Although Ye Ye tells the police, no one knows anything of what happened to him. A few months... (full context)
Chapter 5: Arrival in Shanghai
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...no warning of their departure, taking only the clothes on their backs. Aunt Baba and Ye Ye will follow after they have finished mourning Nai Nai in the Buddhist tradition, along with... (full context)
Chapter 7: Family Reunion
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
Ye Ye , Aunt Baba, Third Brother, and Little Sister arrive in Shanghai. Little Sister, nearly two... (full context)
Chapter 8: Tram Fare
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
For the first two months, Ye Ye gives the stepchildren money to take the tram to and from school, since each of... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...all give in as well. Only Adeline persists, out of some sense of loyalty to Ye Ye and Aunt Baba, even in the midst of rainstorms and cold weather. Each week, the... (full context)
Chapter 10: Shanghai School Days
Toxic Family Theme Icon
Aunt Baba returns to work and spends her evenings with friends. Ye Ye grows much closer to Third Brother and Adeline, taking them on picnics and teaching Third... (full context)
Chapter 12: Big Sister’s Wedding
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...the midst of Chinese New Year, 1948, Big Sister announces to Adeline, Aunt Baba, and Ye Ye that Niang has arranged for her to be married to a doctor. Big Sister seems... (full context)
Chapter 14: Class President
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...Baba sitting in an armchair, saying that she had just been talking about Adeline with Ye Ye . Aunt Baba tries to get Adeline to talk about what Father told her after... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
However, when Adeline returns home she discovers the maid packing her clothes in a suitcase. Ye Ye looks saddened and the maid informs Adeline that tomorrow Father and Niang will fly with... (full context)
Chapter 15: Boarding School in Tianjin
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
...them at the organ. The music brings her back to evenings with Aunt Baba and Ye Ye , snuggling into her blankets and listening to them play cards. (full context)
Chapter 16: Hong Kong
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...family does not notice in the commotion. Taking her suitcase into the apartment, Adeline finds Grandfather Ye Ye and runs to him. He is older now, she realizes, and there is something slightly... (full context)
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Ye Ye and Adeline rejoin the rest of the family in the living room, where Aunt Reine... (full context)
Toxic Family Theme Icon
As the families are celebrating, Ye Ye tells Adeline that he has had a cot placed in his room and that she... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...family’s house for breakfast and to make plans for the day to go shopping together. Ye Ye insists that he stay home, since his neck is bothering him. Niang looks to Adeline... (full context)
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
The Power of Stories Theme Icon
While she is reading, Ye Ye hears that Adeline’s grasp of Chinese is languishing and he orders her to copy down... (full context)
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...of the week, Niang takes Aunt Reine’s family on outings into the city, always inviting Ye Ye but never inviting Adeline. Ye Ye politely declines each day, and so he spends each... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
On Sunday, Niang organizes a long scenic drive for everyone to go on, and Ye Ye decides that he will come along. Adeline is not sure if she will be allowed... (full context)
Chapter 17: Boarding School in Hong Kong
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
...maid tells Adeline to pack her bags quickly, as she is being “taken away” again. Ye Ye is sleeping, so the only people to go wherever Adeline will be taken are Niang,... (full context)
Chapter 18: Miserable Sunday
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
The Power of Stories Theme Icon
...so overwhelmed by the “poetry and pathos” of it and the way it astutely described Ye Ye ’s imprisonment in Father and Niang’s house. Adeline makes a false pretense to escape the... (full context)
Chapter 20: Pneumonia
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
...Brother, visiting from school in Shanghai (where he has been living with Aunt Baba), and Ye Ye are the only other people home, and the house seems calm and peaceful. The three... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
When Third Brother asks Adeline about her own plans for the future, Ye Ye interjects to proudly describe how well she is performing in school, now several grades ahead... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
Ye Ye responds angrily that Adeline must not speak about herself in such a manner, that she... (full context)
Chapter 21: Playwriting Competition
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
The Power of Stories Theme Icon
...she finds an announcement for an international English playwriting contest in a magazine, Adeline remembers Ye Ye ’s encouragement and wish for her to succeed. The librarian encourages Adeline to send for... (full context)
Physical and Emotional Abuse Theme Icon
Coming of Age and Self-Worth Theme Icon
Toxic Family Theme Icon
That March, in 1952, Adeline receives word that Ye Ye has died and she is taken by Father’s chauffer to attend his funeral at the... (full context)