Over the years of Lily and Snow Flower's laotong relationship, the two pass notes back and forth to each other and record major life events in ink drawings and nu shu on a single silk fan. This fan, then, becomes a physical representation of their relationship, as well as an example of the nuance required to understand nu shu. The fan most importantly records the note that makes Lily believe that Snow Flower has joined a group of sworn sisters. Upon Snow Flower's death, the fan becomes incriminating evidence and a vehicle for Plum Blossom, Willow, and Lotus to impress upon Lily the damage she did to her relationship with Snow Flower and the importance of close reading. Finally, the fan stands as a condensed version of the novel itself, and through Lily's interpretation as an old woman, asserts again the importance of careful reading and deciphering language.
Lily and Snow Flower's Fan Quotes in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan
"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."