Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 14-15 Summary & Analysis

Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 14-15 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 14: Into the Mountains

When the typhoid epidemic subsides, Snow Flower writes to Lily, inviting her to visit. Without her mother-in-law to forbid the visit, Lily does what she can to appease her husband’s objections and then sets out to visit Snow Flower. Lily sees for the first time how difficult Snow Flower’s circumstances must be—the smell of meat carcasses, unvaried meals of pork meat, and the family of pigs that sniff around the tables for scraps at mealtime. Snow Flower has become a vegetarian in defiance of her husband’s livelihood. Lily and Snow Flower agree that, just as they did, their daughters should wait until the age of seven to begin the foot-binding process.

Snow Flower’s husband refuses to let Lily and Snow Flower sleep together in the master bedroom, as is the custom for lautongs. While Lily is in bed in the ladies’ chamber, she hears Snow Flower and her husband having sex in their room, and feels that they are engaging in polluted acts. Lily observes that Snow Flower is beginning to look worn and old, her skin is darkening and her hair is turning grey.

On Lily’s second night with Snow Flower the government declares war on the Taiping rebels and the entire village flees the approaching battle. The family goes together, carrying as much food and water as they can, the women riding in the palanquin. As their walk into the hills becomes more difficult, they must reduce their loads and the women are forced to walk, despite the limitations of their lily-shaped feet. During the trek, they witness women losing their balance and falling over the cliff to their deaths. Young girls with feet just in the early stages of binding, and therefore unable to walk, are abandoned along the way like so many other possessions.

When Snow Flower’s husband leaves one night to look for firewood, he leaves the women with neighbors by a fire. That night, the women keep each other company by telling traditional stories. A woman tells the familiar story of the origins of their tribe, the Yao, how they first came…

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