Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 10-11 Summary & Analysis

Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 10-11 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 10: Truth

Immediately after her own wedding, Lily goes to Snow Flower’s home for her “Sitting and Singing” month. Expecting to find a grand household, Lily is confused to find a dirty house that was evidently once very rich but now smells terrible and is almost empty of furniture. She finds Snow Flower and her mother together in the upper chamber, poorly dressed, cold and hungry, and with no servants to tend to them.

Snow Flower tells Lily that her grandfather had been prosperous and built a wealthy and powerful household, but that her father had fallen victim to opium addiction and had sold everything to pay for his habit. Lily comes to realize that everyone around her had already known of her friend’s circumstances—Madame Wang, Mama, Aunt, and all the other adults in her family—but that no one had told Lily. Snow Flower goes on to reveal that their lautong relationship was a scheme by Madame Wang, who is actually Snow Flower’s aunt, to improve the girl’s prospects for marriage. She explains to Lily, “From you I learned what I needed to know for my new life” (123). When Snow Flower reveals that she is betrothed to a butcher, the lowest of all possible matches, Lily realizes that Madame Wang’s story at her own “Sitting and Singing” was actually meant for Snow Flower. Lily begins to feel betrayed, having been kept out of a secret that everyone else knew. Yet, she continues to love Snow Flower as her lautong.

In her new, elevated position, Lily does her best to contrive the appearance of a respectable wedding for Snow Flower, cleaning the house, hiring young women to act as her friends and help with the wedding preparations, bringing food from her own family to feed the guests. Examining Snow Flower’s dowry, Lily realizes that all the pieces she has been making during their visits together have been made from clothing Snow Flower had once worn. Snow Flower explains that the clothing had first belonged to her own mother. The dowry Snow Flower is making is being reused for the third time.


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