Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Birds and Flying Symbol Icon

While phrases about birds (such as the consistent refrain about a mated pair of Mandarin ducks) are very common to the language of nu shu, the manner in which Snow Flower uses the language of birds is decidedly less conventional. For her, both writing about birds and other flying creatures and embroidering them is a way to express her desire for freedom in an acceptable fashion, as her actual freedom is slowly taken from her. Snow Flower is essentially able to use birds as a sort of alter ego for herself, where as a bird she's free and able to soar above the earthly things that keep her subjugated and at the mercy of others. While Snow Flower's fixation on birds and freedom scares Lily as a child, as a young woman Lily repeats these phrases and motifs back to Snow Flower to remind her of her free spirit.

Birds and Flying Quotes in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The Snow Flower and the Secret Fan quotes below all refer to the symbol of Birds and Flying. 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.
Rice-and-Salt Days: Sons Quotes

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:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt Lorem Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse c

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Snow Flower and the Secret Fan quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire Snow Flower LitChart as a printable PDF.
Snow flower and the secret fan.pdf.medium

Birds and Flying Symbol Timeline in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

The timeline below shows where the symbol Birds and Flying appears in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Sitting Quietly
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
...for the reader, the text of which she has memorized. An elaborate design of flowers, birds, and messages cover the fan, telling a story of optimism and promises that give way... (full context)
Daughter Days: Snow Flower
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
...was tied to a chair where she could only look out the window at the birds. Hearing this both scares and thrills Lily. Snow Flower puts her hand on Lily's cheek,... (full context)
Daughter Days: Love
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
...passed through Madame Wang. While Lily writes "little-girl things," Snow Flower responds with messages of birds, flight, and escape. This is both frightening and exhilarating to Lily, and she wants to... (full context)
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
...puts her down, and immediately she and Lily begin talking. Snow Flower doesn't speak of flying away; rather, she acts like a normal little girl interested in normal things. Snow Flower... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
...and Uncle laugh during dinner. Lily says her family treats Snow Flower like an escaped bird among chickens, but everyone is amused at the situation. That night, Snow Flower suggests that... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: Beautiful Moon
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...than Lily. Snow Flower works on a pair of purple and white shoes embroidered with flying creatures, and Beautiful Moon works on her red wedding slippers. Village children stop to chat... (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: The Flower-Sitting Chair
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
...all the usual sentiments, even from Snow Flower. Snow Flower's book begins by mentioning a phoenix and a golden hen. (full context)
Hair-Pinning Days: Truth
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
...Flower never told the truth. She wonders if Snow Flower actually believes she can just fly away with the birds. (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
...arrives home, she opens the fan and, to mark Snow Flower’s marriage, writes about a phoenix soaring over a common rooster. Lily cries and paints a wilted, crying flower at the... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Sons
Love and Family Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
...son's name on the wall of their ancestral temple and then serves a variety of poultry dishes. Snow Flower sends a beautiful jacket for Lily's son, but Lily's mother-in-law makes it... (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
...candid voice, allowing their feet to carry them to each other and their thoughts to fly to each other. Lily composes a similarly constructed letter inviting Snow Flower to her natal... (full context)
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
...the beginning of farming season, so women make sticky rice balls to offer to the birds to distract them from the fields. After they leave the rice balls, Lily gets in... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
Chinese Culture and Tradition Theme Icon
...Flower doesn't wait for an answer before referring to herself and her husband as two mandarin ducks that enjoy it. Lily is bewildered, especially when Snow Flower admits that Snow Flower's husband... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Into the Mountains
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
...Snow Flower’s daughter Spring Moon, Lily says the girls will be like a pair of mandarin ducks . (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Winter
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...edge of the cliff. Lily follows her, afraid that she'll jump to be like her birds. After eleven days, Snow Flower finally speaks and tells Lily that her husband beat her... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Letter of Vituperation
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
...that she will sing a Letter of Vituperation (a public grievance). Snow Flower starts, "the pheasant squawks and the sound carries far." She lists all the miseries of her life and... (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
...don't criticize her, but comfort her and visit her. She says she feels like a bird flying without its mate. Lily thinks of her grievance against Mama and ignores Snow Flower.... (full context)
Rice-and-Salt Days: Into the Clouds
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 begins working on burial shoes for Snow Flower and embroiders curly-wing bats and deer on them. Snow Flower's feet and legs start to turn purple, and Lily... (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
...and writes on it that one day she hopes that she and Snow Flower will soar together. She says she'd have many years to consider the writing on the fan and... (full context)
Sitting Quietly: Regret
Women and Gender Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Language, Storytelling, and Communication Theme Icon
Pain, Suffering, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
...a man would treasure his wife if he sees her as little better than a chicken or a water buffalo. Hearing these stories made Lily consider her own life, in which... (full context)