Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The narrator of the novel, daughter of Mama and Baba, wife of Dalang, and laotong to Snow Flower. Lily longs for love, even though as a woman, she's considered unworthy of receiving it. As such, Lily conceptualizes love in terms of duty and what she should do to show or earn her love rather than treating it as an emotion. Her feet are perfect "golden lilies" after her foot binding, which allows her to advance socially and marry well. However, the process of foot binding reinforces the belief that Lily's worth is dependent on her feet and her ability to bear sons, rather than her ability to experience emotion or care. Lily is quick to obey those who are superior to her, and learns to fall back on these conventions and traditions rather than express true feelings or sympathy. When Lily feels that someone has wronged her, she develops a habit of lashing out at them and then cutting them out of her life while she hangs onto her grievances for years. It is this habit that ends Lily’s relationship with Snow Flower and also brings about Lily's final coming of age as Lady Lu. Lily does, however, learn the true meaning of "deep-heart" love after Snow Flower's death. While she continues to hold tightly to convention in her old age, she uses her power as Lady Lu to encourage other women to value their lives in a way that she never valued her own life or Snow Flower's.

Lily Quotes in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan quotes below are all either spoken by Lily or refer to Lily . 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:
Women and Gender Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan published in 2006.
Sitting Quietly Quotes

For my entire life I longed for love. I knew it was not right for me—as a girl and later as a woman—to want or expect it, but I did, and this unjustified desire has been at the root of every problem I have experienced in my life.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

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Daughter Days: Footbinding Quotes

For us, the pain didn't lessen. How could it? But we learned the most important lesson for all women: that we must obey for our own good.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Third Sister, Beautiful Moon
Related Symbols: Feet
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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"A true lady lets no ugliness into her life," she repeated again and again, drilling the words into me. "Only through pain will you have beauty. Only through suffering will you find peace. I wrap, I bind, but you will have the reward."

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Lily
Related Symbols: Feet
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

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Daughter Days: Snow Flower Quotes

"My mother bound my feet—and me to the chair—even tighter the next time."
"You can't fight your fate," I said. "It is predestined."

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower (speaker), Snow Flower's Mother
Related Symbols: Feet
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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Daughter Days: Learning Quotes

"Each word must be placed in context," she reminded us each day at the end of our lesson. "Much tragedy could result from a wrong reading."

Related Characters: Aunt (speaker), Lily , Snow Flower
Related Symbols: Lily and Snow Flower's Fan
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

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"You married out," Mama said, in a way that seemed oddly detached. "You go to another village. Your mother-in-law is cruel. Your husband doesn't care for you. We wish you would never leave, but every daughter marries away. Everyone agrees. Everyone goes along with it. You can cry and beg to come home, we can grieve that you have gone, but you—and we—have no choice. The old saying makes this very clear: 'if a daughter doesn't marry out, she's not valuable; if fire doesn't raze the mountain, the land will not be fertile.'"

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), Lily , Aunt, Elder Sister
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

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Hair-Pinning Days: Beautiful Moon Quotes

Anyone who tells you that the Yao people never care for their daughters is lying. We may be worthless. We may be raised for another family. But often we are loved and cherished, despite our natal families' best efforts not to have feelings for us. Why else in our secret writing do you see phrases like "I was a pearl in my father's palm" so frequently? Maybe as parents we try not to care. I tried not to care about my daughter, but what could I do? She nursed at my breast like my sons had, she cried her tears in my lap, and she honored me by becoming a good and talented woman fluent in nu shu. Uncle's pearl was gone from him forever.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Beautiful Moon, Uncle, Jade
Page Number: 96
Explanation and Analysis:

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Hair-Pinning Days: The Flower-Sitting Chair Quotes

And in our local dialect, the word for wife is the same as the word for guest. For the rest of my life I would be merely a guest in my husband's home—not the kind you treat with special meals, gifts of affection, or soft beds, but the kind who is forever viewed as a foreigner, alien and suspect.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Lady Lu / Lily’s Mother-in-Law, Lily's Husband / Dalang
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Hair-Pinning Days: Truth Quotes

All of it was women's work—the very work that men think is merely decorative—and it was being used to change the lives of the women themselves.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower, Snow Flower's Mother
Page Number: 127
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rice-and-Salt Days: Sons Quotes

We could not write anything too negative about our circumstances. This was tricky, since the very form of a married woman's letter needed to include the usual complaints—that we were pathetic, powerless, worked to the bone, homesick, and sad. We were supposed to speak directly about our feelings without appearing ungrateful, no-account, or unfilial.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sons are the foundation of a woman's self. They give a woman her identity, as well as dignity, protection, and economic value... sons are a woman's crowning glory.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Lily's Husband / Dalang, First Son
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

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... Now that I lived in the Lu household, where all the men knew men's writing, I saw that our secret women's writing wasn't much of a secret. Then it dawned on me that men throughout the county had to know about nu shu. How could they not? ... Men just considered our writing beneath them.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower
Page Number: 153
Explanation and Analysis:

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With her bold act, I realized the true purpose of our secret writing. It was not to compose girlish notes to each other or even to introduce us to the women in our husbands' families. It was to give us a voice. Our nu shu was a means for our bound feet to carry us to each other, for our thoughts to fly across the fields as Snow Flower had written.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower
Related Symbols: Birds and Flying, Feet
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

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I retreated to the safety of the formal lines appropriate for a married woman, hoping this would remind Snow Flower that our only real protection as women was the placid face we presented, even in those moments of great distress.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rice-and-Salt Days: Winter Quotes

Certainly Snow Flower would say something on his behalf. He was the first son after all. But my old same did not love the boy the way she should have.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower, The Butcher / Snow Flower's Husband, Snow Flower's (Eldest) Son, Snow Flower's Mother-in-Law
Page Number: 199
Explanation and Analysis:

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The butcher's brokenhearted question was one that appeared in many nu shu stories and songs. I glanced at the faces of the other women around the fire and saw their unspoken question: Could a man—this butcher—feel the same despair and sadness that we women feel when we lose a child?

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower, The Butcher / Snow Flower's Husband, Snow Flower's Second Son
Page Number: 206
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rice-and-Salt Days: Letter of Vituperation Quotes

And then the strangest thing happened. An image of my mother came to my mind. I remembered that as a child I'd wanted her to love me. I'd thought if I did everything she asked during my footbinding, I would earn her affection.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower, Mama
Related Symbols: Feet
Page Number: 221
Explanation and Analysis:

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"We might expect this loss of affection from our husbands—they have a right, and we are only women—but to endure this from another woman, who by her very sex has experienced much cruelty just by living, is merciless."

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower
Page Number: 229
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rice-and-Salt Days: Into the Clouds Quotes

I thought I would never forgive Snow Flower, but instead of dwelling on that my mind tumbled with the realization that my laotong's womb had betrayed her again and that the tumor inside her must have been growing for many years. I had a duty to care...

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

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So much of what happened reminded me of the didactic story that Aunt used to chant about the girl who had three brothers. I now understand that we learned those songs and stories not just to teach us how to behave but because we would be living out variations of them over and over again throughout our lives.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower, Aunt, Lotus, Plum Blossom, Willow
Page Number: 240
Explanation and Analysis:

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"But you had too much man-thinking in you. You loved her as a man would, valuing her only for following men's rules."

Related Characters: Plum Blossom (speaker), Lily , Snow Flower, Lotus, Willow
Page Number: 242
Explanation and Analysis:

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Sitting Quietly: Regret Quotes

As girls we are told that we are useless branches, because we will not carry on our natal family names but only the names of the families we marry out to, if we are lucky enough to bear sons. In this way, a woman belongs to her husband's family forever, whether she is alive or dead. All of this is true, and yet these days my contentment comes from knowing that Snow Flower's and my blood will soon rule the house of Lu.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker), Snow Flower, Peony / Snow Flower's Granddaughter
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:

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But it went beyond that. I wanted them to place a value on their lives, which for the most part were dismal.

Related Characters: Lily (speaker)
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lily Character Timeline in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The timeline below shows where the character Lily appears in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Sitting Quietly
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
The narrator, 80-year-old Lily, tells the reader that she's "one who has not yet died," or a widow. At... (full context)
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
Lily says that for her entire life she longed for love. She knew she shouldn't expect... (full context)
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
Lily's only rebellion was her use of nu shu, which is women's secret writing. Lily broke... (full context)
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Lily describes the fan for the reader, the text of which she has memorized. An elaborate... (full context)
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Over the last few years, Lily has copied autobiographies for women who can't read or write nu shu, and has heard... (full context)
Daughter Days: Milk Years
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Lily introduces herself and states her birthday (June 6, 1823) in the traditional Chinese format. She... (full context)
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Just after Lily turns five, she begins to notice and think about what's around her. She describes waking... (full context)
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...calls up the stairs and the girls wake up. Elder Sister goes downstairs first, as Lily and Beautiful Moon must dress Third Sister. When they come downstairs, Aunt and Uncle greet... (full context)
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Mama doesn't praise Lily for carrying water or firewood, and Lily realizes that Mama views her as an inconsequential,... (full context)
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Lily, Third Sister, and their baby Second Brother are too young to go upstairs, so they... (full context)
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Aunt suggests that Lily and Beautiful Moon go outside. Mama tries to argue, but Aunt is stubborn and reasons... (full context)
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...outside. Mama is weary and trying to get the baby to fall asleep, but when Lily tries to comfort her, Mama pushes her away. Baba then takes Lily on his lap... (full context)
Daughter Days: Footbinding
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Lily says that girls in her county have their feet bound starting at age six. Lily... (full context)
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When Lily and Beautiful Moon turn six, Mama and Aunt send for Diviner Hu to select an... (full context)
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...Hu arrives, he has Madame Wang with him from Tongkou, rather than the local matchmaker. Lily says that the situation must be dire since Lily's family isn't expecting to see a... (full context)
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Madame Wang settles herself and then asks to see Lily. Lily studies her family members' faces, all of which are worried and anxious. Mama's face,... (full context)
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When Madame Wang reclaims her seat, Diviner Hu says that Lily's feet are underdeveloped, and so Mama needs to wait a year to begin binding them.... (full context)
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Lily and Mama go upstairs. Mama slaps Lily across the face, and tells her that all... (full context)
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Lily and Beautiful Moon's education in "house learning" begins in earnest. Lily shares that she would... (full context)
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When Lily turns seven, Diviner Hu returns to find a date for her, Beautiful Moon, and Third... (full context)
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On the morning the binding is to begin, Lily, Beautiful Moon, and Third Sister offer the Tiny-Footed Maiden rice balls, and Mama and Aunt... (full context)
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When the wrapping is finished, Mama and Aunt instruct the girls to get up. Lily's feet are throbbing, but Mama yanks her up and tells her to walk. Mama, Elder... (full context)
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Lily, Beautiful Moon, and Third Sister are made to walk again the next day, and the... (full context)
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One day while Lily is walking, she hears the crack of one of her toes breaking. Mama sharply instructs... (full context)
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When it begins to snow outside, the bones in Lily's mid-foot break. Third Sister becomes feverish, and one day when Mama and Aunt are downstairs,... (full context)
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...Mama, as the first daughter-in-law, is tasked with caring for her, while Beautiful Moon and Lily care for Third Sister. As young girls they don't know the words to comfort her,... (full context)
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...winter under the snow. The women's chamber becomes even more disciplined as Beautiful Moon and Lily make sure to not resist, and Mama, Aunt, and Elder Sister vigilantly watch for infection.... (full context)
Daughter Days: The Fan
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When the ground softens, Lily's family prepares Grandmother and Third Sister for burial. Funerals are one of the most expensive... (full context)
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The most painful part of foot binding is over, and Lily and Beautiful Moon spend their days sitting and working on their house learning and nu... (full context)
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In late summer, Elder Sister's sworn sisters meet at Lily's home for Bull Fighting Day. They beg Aunt to lead them in the call-and-respond "Story... (full context)
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The following day, Madame Wang visits. Lily feels pressured to make a good impression, as her family needs the money that her... (full context)
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Mama indifferently says that Lily is stubborn and disobedient. Lily is hurt to hear this, and doesn't understand that by... (full context)
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...and Aunt walk Madame Wang to her palanquin (a litter carried by four men) while Lily, Beautiful Moon, and Elder Sister chatter excitedly. Elder Sister asks what the fan says, but... (full context)
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Lily's family decides to accept the laotong relationship. Mama helps Lily embroider shoes to send to... (full context)
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When Lily is finished with the fan and the shoes, she worries that Snow Flower's family won't... (full context)
Daughter Days: Snow Flower
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A few days later Mama carries Lily, dressed simply, to Madame Wang's waiting palanquin, where Snow Flower is sitting. Snow Flower is... (full context)
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Snow Flower suggests they look out the window. Lily scoots over on the bench and the two pull the curtain aside to look out... (full context)
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Madame Wang returns and calls Lily and Snow Flower out of the palanquin. They're next to a paper goods stand, and... (full context)
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Snow Flower says they have to write the best contract ever. Lily suggests they follow the rules, and Snow Flower impatiently suggests that they make it unique... (full context)
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Lily feels extremely happy as she walks back to the palanquin with Snow Flower and Madame... (full context)
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When Lily and Snow Flower return to the palanquin, Snow Flower begs Madame Wang to take them... (full context)
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For the return trip, Madame Wang allows Lily and Snow Flower to sit next to each other, and the two giggle, hold hands,... (full context)
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When they arrive at Lily's house, Madame Wang bids goodbye to both of them. Lily is ecstatic that Snow Flower... (full context)
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Later that night, Lily and Snow Flower go upstairs with Mama and the other women. Snow Flower suspiciously dabs... (full context)
Daughter Days: Love
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Addressing the reader, Lily says that women are expected to love their children immediately, but everyone feels disappointed holding... (full context)
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Lily writes and embroiders notes to Snow Flower, passed through Madame Wang. While Lily writes "little-girl... (full context)
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When Snow Flower arrives, Lily is waiting by the lattice window in the women's chamber. Mama carries Snow Flower upstairs... (full context)
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Snow Flower charms Lily's entire family and can even make Baba and Uncle laugh during dinner. Lily says her... (full context)
Daughter Days: Learning
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For the next three years, Snow Flower visits Lily's family every few months. Lily never questions why she never visits Snow Flower in Tongkou,... (full context)
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The matter is far from over, however, as Lily's laotong relationship means that the existing rivalry between Madame Wang and Madame Gao is heightened.... (full context)
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When Snow Flower, Beautiful Moon, and Lily turn 11, their feet are healed. Lily's are smallest, Snow Flower's are slightly larger, and... (full context)
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Lily's family exchanges the first round of gifts with their future in-laws. Lily and Beautiful Moon... (full context)
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When Snow Flower, Lily, and Beautiful Moon turn 13, their education picks up speed. Snow Flower's family had neglected... (full context)
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Snow Flower also tells Lily and Beautiful Moon about their future families. Lily's husband is kind and born in the... (full context)
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...Flower's mother daily. Snow Flower's eyes suddenly fill with tears when she says this, and Lily and Beautiful Moon giggle uncomfortably. Snow Flower quickly recovers and then says that Lily's mother-in-law... (full context)
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Lily and Snow Flower have now been to the Temple of Gupo five times. Each time... (full context)
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Madame Gao and Madame Wang frequently visit Lily's family, and the battle between the two escalates. One day, Madame Gao complains that local... (full context)
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Madame Wang is silent for a moment and then calls Lily to her, and tells her that she may never repeat what she just heard to... (full context)
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As Elder Sister's wedding approaches, the last round of gifts is delivered to Lily's family and Elder Sister's sworn sisters come for the Sitting and Singing, which lasts 28... (full context)
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...of their sadness at losing their sister. Snow Flower reads the couplet that she and Lily wrote on their fan to commemorate the occasion. (full context)
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When Elder Sister's new family arrives the next day, Lily's family throws bamboo and water on them for good luck. Her dowry is displayed and... (full context)
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Lily says that she remembers best the day that Elder Sister returned from a visit the... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: Catching Cool Breezes
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When Snow Flower and Lily turn 15, they pin their hair up in a style that symbolizes their impending marriages... (full context)
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The first night of Snow Flower's visit, she and Lily lay in bed fully dressed, trying to catch nonexistent cool breezes from the window. Snow... (full context)
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Snow Flower continues to write characters across Lily's torso and hips, writing out the phrase "the bed is lit by moonlight," a line... (full context)
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Snow Flower runs her hand down Lily's body and says they have two more lines. Moving to the foot of the bed,... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: Beautiful Moon
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Beautiful Moon returns home the next day. She, Lily, and Snow Flower have all received the first installments of their bride-prices, which include food... (full context)
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...Catching Cool Breezes festival is still going on, and the heat has not yet broken. Lily speaks of the memory of putting her feet in the river as a child, and... (full context)
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Lily hasn't been outside in her village since her feet were bound, and she relishes the... (full context)
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...she's very pregnant, very hot, and her in-laws still make her do all the housework. Lily feels grateful for the custom of not moving in with in-laws permanently until the birth... (full context)
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Lily's reverie is interrupted by strange sounds. She looks to Beautiful Moon, who's brushing at her... (full context)
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Lily continues to talk to Beautiful Moon until finally the horrible sounds of her breathing stop... (full context)
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Lily explains that there's a special belief that the spirits of young women who die before... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: The Flower-Sitting Chair
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Two years later, Lily pins her hair into the dragon style of a young woman about to be married.... (full context)
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...true identity, and, thanks to her virtuousness, her entire family is allowed to enter nirvana. Lily says that she believed Madame Wang told this story to tell Lily about her future,... (full context)
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Lily says that she had mixed feelings throughout the month as she experiences sadness at leaving... (full context)
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Lily tries to ask about Snow Flower's Sitting and Singing, which will start right after Lily's... (full context)
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Three days before Lily's wedding, the Day of Sorrow and Worry starts. Mama sits on the stairs and she... (full context)
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The next morning, Lily wakes nervously but Snow Flower comforts her. She helps Lily dress in her wedding outfit... (full context)
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Madame Wang introduces Lily's parents to their future in-laws. Lily's parents host a banquet at the ancestral temple, which... (full context)
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When Lily's family returns from the party, Lily thinks that now is the time that Mama will... (full context)
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Snow Flower returns and tries to comfort Lily by telling her how virtuous and obedient she is. She remarks that Aunt and Uncle... (full context)
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The next morning, Lily's new family arrives to pick her up and take her to Tongkou. The women cry,... (full context)
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Lily cries in the palanquin and explains to the reader that part of the phrase for... (full context)
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Lily reads the happy note from Snow Flower on the fan, and then turns to the... (full context)
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When Lily arrives at Tongkou, bearers unload her dowry. The woman with the most sons in the... (full context)
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Lily inspects what she can see of her husband, and notes that the shoes she made... (full context)
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Lily and Lily’s husband greet each other and he offers her peanuts and dates. Lily refuses,... (full context)
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Lily wakes early on the second day of her marriage. She goes into the hallway, feeling... (full context)
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...the bride's new family. Elder Sister and Elder Brother arrive, but Snow Flower doesn't come. Lily is hurt and scared by this. The books contain all the usual sentiments, even from... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: Truth
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On the fourth day after her marriage, Lily packs to go to Snow Flower's house for her Sitting and Singing. Yonggang escorts her... (full context)
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A woman in peasant clothes squats over a washbasin, and when she sees Lily, rises to greet her. She goes to fetch Snow Flower, and Lily notices her small... (full context)
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When Lily gets to the top of the stairs, she tells Snow Flower that nothing has changed.... (full context)
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...his sisters. He began to sell land to pay bride prices, and finally discovered opium. Lily realizes that this is the "pipe" that Madame Gao had mentioned years ago. (full context)
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Lily asks Snow Flower if Snow Flower’s father is alive and in the house, and she... (full context)
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Lily thinks that Snow Flower and Snow Flower's mother are unable to escape the belief that... (full context)
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Lily realizes that Snow Flower must be marrying into a very low family if she needs... (full context)
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Lily the narrator explains that as a girl, she was too self-centered to see the truth... (full context)
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Lily says that she had to pretend that she wasn't sick from the proverbial spoiled meat,... (full context)
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Snow Flower lays out her dowry for Lily to see. Lily recognizes familiar fabrics and realizes that Snow Flower's dowry has been created... (full context)
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When Madame Wang arrives, Lily sends her to her natal home to fetch food and cloth. She asks Madame Wang... (full context)
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Madame Wang arrives the next day with three farmers' daughters. Lily leads them in writing third-day wedding books for Snow Flower and bullies them into making... (full context)
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As the weather grows colder, Lily moves the group downstairs so they can make use of the fire. Lily starts a... (full context)
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Madame Wang and Lily watch Snow Flower disappear, and Lily asks if she (Lily) was truly a special child... (full context)
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Three days later, Lily delivers Snow Flower's third-day wedding books. There's no feast at Snow Flower's married home, and... (full context)
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Lily reads from Snow Flower's mother's book and then picks up her own. As she reads,... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: The Temple of Gupo
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Lily's parents are happy to see her, but she struggles with the feeling that they lied... (full context)
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Mama says she pities the Lu family for taking Lily, and the conversation is over. Lily says she softened to the rest of her family... (full context)
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Snow Flower and Lily write each other often, although they can't visit each other. Lily travels to Tongkou four... (full context)
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Lily and Snow Flower meet for the first time since their weddings to travel to the... (full context)
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Neither Lily nor Snow Flower becomes pregnant in the next year, so when they visit the Temple... (full context)
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The next time Lily’s husband has sex with her, Lily holds him on top of her until he falls... (full context)
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Mama is very strict with Lily and makes sure she eats only bland foods. Lily accepts the limitations, as she knows... (full context)
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...the goddess, and each steal a pair of baby shoes lined up along the altar. Lily explains that a woman who wants a healthy baby steals a pair of shoes, and... (full context)
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Snow Flower and Lily stop at an inn that night to sleep. They lie in bed facing each other... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Sons
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Snow Flower writes a message to Lily telling her of her newborn son. Lily is happy for Snow Flower's fortune, but explains... (full context)
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Lily says that her relationship with Snow Flower seems stronger now that they're in their “rice-and-salt... (full context)
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At first, Lily didn't have anything bad to tell Snow Flower, as her family's wealth kept life pleasant... (full context)
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Lily's mother-in-law refuses to invite Snow Flower to Lily's first son's one-month party. Lily is crushed... (full context)
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Snow Flower and Lily write each other daily and Yonggang carries their notes. Lily watches her run to Jintian,... (full context)
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Snow Flower writes Lily to tell her of her abusive mother-in-law and shares that her own mother and father... (full context)
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Lady Lu makes many excuses why Lily can't see Snow Flower, but Lily knows that she simply doesn't want Lily associating with... (full context)
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One day, Madame Wang delivers a letter to Lily from Snow Flower. Snow Flower writes that her in-laws forced her to watch them slaughter... (full context)
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Lily is scared to deceive Lady Lu. The Expel Birds Festival marks the beginning of farming... (full context)
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Snow Flower says she only feels joy when she's with her son. Lily tries to reassure her that winter makes her sad, but Snow Flower insists that her... (full context)
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Lily is saved from having to respond to Snow Flower as they arrive at her natal... (full context)
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Lily and Snow Flower continue to write each other after they return to their married homes.... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt-Days: Joy and Sorrow
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When Lily's first son turns five, Lily’s husband decides to hire a tutor for him. Lily is... (full context)
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For the Tasting Festival, Lily and Snow Flower (who's also pregnant) travel to Lily's natal home. Lily confides that she... (full context)
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Two years later, Snow Flower tells Lily she's had a second son. Nobody can truly celebrate, however, as the Emperor passes away... (full context)
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Over the next two years, Lily has another son and the rebellion begins to take its toll on the Lu household.... (full context)
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...year, a drought means that everyone in Tongkou goes hungry. Uncle Lu, who now tutors Lily's first son, puts more pressure on the boy, as he has the potential to pull... (full context)
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After her Lily’s husband leaves, Lily worries constantly. She starts to offer to fetch tea downstairs and takes... (full context)
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...village. The women of the Lu family gather upstairs together until Third-Sister-in-law's son takes ill. Lily takes her children to her sleeping chamber and only leaves the room twice per day... (full context)
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One day, Lily finds Third Sister-in-law in the kitchen dressed in mourning—her entire nuclear family is dead. Lady... (full context)
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By midday, Lady Lu has come down with fever. It's Lily's responsibility to care for her, but she worries for her children until Yonggang promises to... (full context)
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As the epidemic wanes, Lily learns that Mama and Baba have also died, as well as a number of her... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Into the Mountains
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Snow Flower writes Lily and says that her family survived, although she miscarried a daughter early on. She invites... (full context)
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Snow Flower's husband won't allow Snow Flower and Lily to sleep together, as is customary, so Snow Flower makes Lily a bed in the... (full context)
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Lily says she didn't realize at the time that the outer world of men was now... (full context)
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Snow Flower's husband lifts his mother, Snow Flower, and Lily into the cart, and he and Snow Flower’s eldest son push. Spring Moon walks with... (full context)
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By the second night, Lily sees young girls whose foot bindings have just begun—abandoned. Little boys beg for help, but... (full context)
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...and she and her family join them. Snow Flower's husband leaves to look for firewood. Lily and Snow Flower are too tired and scared to sleep, and one Snow Flower's friends,... (full context)
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...Yao divide a water buffalo horn, distribute 12 pieces of horn, and the groups scatter. Lily wonders if she's truly safe in the mountains, as the mountains couldn't protect the Yao... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Winter
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The winter wears on in the mountains. It takes a month for Lily's feet to heal. When they do, she begins searching the groups in the mountains to... (full context)
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...sickly, should be allowed to starve. Snow Flower remains fixated on her second son, but Lily cannot stand for allowing an eldest son to perish. She shares her food with him. (full context)
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The butcher punishes Snow Flower and her son one day for eating Lily's food. Snow Flower's mother-in-law wants to turn Lily away, but the butcher says that Lily's... (full context)
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Snow Flower's eldest son begins seeking out Lily. Lily notices that he's not stupid, just uneducated, and she starts to teach him Uncle... (full context)
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As supplies become even scarcer, people continue to die. Lily observes Snow Flower's children. Snow Flower’s second son is very bright and adores the butcher,... (full context)
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Snow Flower notices that Lily likes Snow Flower’s eldest son, and asks if she'd agree for Lily’s daughter Jade to... (full context)
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...woods but when Snow Flower asks where, he beats her so baldy that she miscarries. Lily and the other sworn sisters tend to Snow Flower as the beatings continue daily. Lily... (full context)
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Lily realizes how much she needs her husband, and vows to actually earn the title of... (full context)
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...saying that she and the butcher have been punished for not following the pollution laws. Lily greets all of Snow Flower's laments with traditional platitudes (“girls aren't meant to live”; “sons... (full context)
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Snow Flower mentions Lily's aunt and says that thinking of Aunt makes her want to keep living. Snow Flower... (full context)
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...it's deemed safe to return to the villages. The butcher carries Snow Flower’s mother-in-law while Lily, Snow Flower, and the children follow. Bones litter the path, and Snow Flower stops once... (full context)
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When they reach the butcher's home, he runs on to Tongkou to notify Lily's husband. Snow Flower pulls Lily upstairs and helps her wash and dress in some of... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Letter of Vituperation
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People begin rebuilding their lives. Lily vows to never again enter the outside world of men. She and Snow Flower see... (full context)
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Lily's husband warns her that Snow Flower isn't as strong as Lily is, and says that... (full context)
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In the middle of August, Snow Flower and her children plan to visit Lily for the Mid-Autumn festival, but Lotus appears on Lily's doorstep instead. She carries Lily and... (full context)
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Lily realizes that the sworn sisters must be Lotus, Plum Blossom, and Willow, the women they... (full context)
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A week later, Lotus comes again with a letter from Snow Flower, asking why Lily hasn't written. Lily burns it, as well as the next few that come as she... (full context)
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Jade bears much of Lily's suffering. Lily wraps her feet tightly and channels her anger into chasing Jade across the... (full context)
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Lily doesn't offer Madame Wang tea and tells her it's too early to find Jade a... (full context)
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Lily tosses the fan at Madame Wang. Madame Wang agrees to pass the message to Snow... (full context)
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On the day of Snow Flower's cousin's Sitting and Singing ceremony, which Lily and Snow Flower had planned on attending together, Lily hopes that Snow Flower won't come.... (full context)
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The bride's mother asks Snow Flower to tell them of her life, and Lily is shocked to hear Snow Flower announce that she will sing a Letter of Vituperation... (full context)
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Lily begins her own Letter of Vituperation in retaliation. She says that all women know hard... (full context)
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Lily tells the reader that in the moment she thought she was free, but realizes now... (full context)
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Lily tells the reader that when she looks back on that day, she knows that she... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Into the Clouds
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Over the next eight years the Taiping Rebellion ends, Lily's first son marries and passes exams to become a scholar, and his wife has a... (full context)
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One day, Yonggang fetches Lily to see someone downstairs. Lily sees a girl in worn clothes, bowing. Lily offers to... (full context)
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At Snow Flower's house, Lily meets the butcher. He says he can't watch his wife suffer anymore and that she's... (full context)
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By this time Lily and Snow Flower are alone while the other women make dinner. Lily pulls back the... (full context)
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Lily starts planning to fetch a doctor and a diviner for Snow Flower, but Lily the... (full context)
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Snow Flower only lives another two weeks. Lily doesn't leave her side. At night, Lily sleeps next to Snow Flower to keep her... (full context)
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Plum Blossom tells Lily that Snow Flower is only playing along with these attempts for Lily's sake, and begs... (full context)
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Lily begins working on burial shoes for Snow Flower and embroiders curly-wing bats and deer on... (full context)
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During their final conversation, Snow Flower asks Lily to be an aunt to her children. In Snow Flower's final hours, Lily reads their... (full context)
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Lily tells the reader that what happened to her reminded her very much of the story... (full context)
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In the main room of Snow Flower's house, Lily, Lotus, Willow, and Plum Blossom dress and prepare Snow Flower for burial. Three days later,... (full context)
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Lily learns then of her greatest shame. The sworn sisters say that Snow Flower wasn't actually... (full context)
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Lotus, Willow, and Plum Blossom continue to tell Lily exactly how she hurt Snow Flower. They say that Snow Flower did bed business with... (full context)
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Lily realizes that Snow Flower's loss of appetite and paleness were due to the tumor. Lily... (full context)
Sitting Quietly: Regret
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Lily tells the reader she's now too old to perform any household chores, and she's too... (full context)
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Lily says that she needed Snow Flower's children so she could try to make amends to... (full context)
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Next, Lily turned to Snow Flower's son. He'd recently married and his wife was pregnant, and Lily... (full context)
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When Lily turned 50 and stopped menstruating, people in her household began waiting on her. She wished... (full context)
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There was one child, though, that Lily desperately wanted: Snow Flower's granddaughter, the daughter of Snow Flower's son. Lily's husband obliged her... (full context)
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Lily's husband died when Lily was 57, and after that the days, weeks, and years began... (full context)
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When Lily was traveling to Jintian to teach Peony nu shu, women began asking her if she... (full context)