Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 3-6 Summary & Analysis

Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 3-6 Summary & Analysis

Chapter 3: The Fan

The family holds funeral rites for Grandmother and Third Sister in the spring. Because of Grandmother’s higher status and the family’s limited resources, Grandmother’s body is given as much honor as they can afford, while Third Sister’s death goes almost unacknowledged. The local matchmaker, Madame Gao, who is less prestigious than Madame Wang, visits the family and declares that Beautiful Moon and Lily will both be pleasing to their husbands. The girls are too young to understand her suggestive comments. Elder Sister’s sworn sisters come to the house to celebrate Bull Fighting Day. Together with the older women, they prepare food and share stories that have been recorded in the women’s writing.

Some days later, Madame Wang comes to propose a possible lautong match for Lily. This girl, Snow Flower, is aligned with Lily according to “the eight characters” (40). She was born on the same day, year, and even in the same hour as Lily, their feet were bound on the same day, and they have the same number of siblings. Snow Flower’s family is of higher standing, her uncle being a jinshi scholar, but Snow Flower’s mother is satisfied with the possible match. Madame Wang gives Lily a fan with writing on it from Snow Flower, a gesture of invitation. Madame Wang suggests that if Lily makes this alliance with Snow Flower, there may be better marriage opportunities for Beautiful Moon as well. Lily’s mother warns the matchmaker that Lily is not a good enough girl to make such a connection, and Lily is too young to understand that her mother’s criticisms are part of the negotiation process.

After Madame Wang leaves, Mama and Aunt discuss the opportunity. Mama, who is now the senior woman in the family, resists the prospect because of the expense. Lily’s aunt, who comes from a higher social background, points out the opportunities associated with the connection. Eventually Mama agrees and gains the consent of Lily’s father. Lily sends Snow Flower a pair of hand-embroidered shoes and writes her response to the girl’s invitation on the same fan. Traditionally, the girls…

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