Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 7-9 Summary & Analysis

Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Chapters 7-9 Summary & Analysis

Part Two: Hair-Pinning Days

Chapter 7: Catching Cool Breezes

The “Catching Cool Breezes” festival takes place during the season when food stores have almost run out, but the new harvest has not yet come in. During this period, the lower ranking female members of the household return to their natal families. When the girls are fifteen years old, Snow Flower comes to stay with Lily’s family for the “Catching Cool Breezes” festival. As Mama, Aunt, Elder Sister, and the wife of Elder Brother are all in other homes; only Lily and Snow Flower remain to tend to the men in the household.

The two girls sleep together in the ladies’ chamber with no other women around. Over the course of several hot nights, they remove their clothes to cool down. One particularly hot night, Snow Flower takes the girls’ shared fan and uses it to cool Lily’s body. Wetting her finger with her tongue, she forms nu shu characters on Lily’s bare skin, which Lily must decipher. She writes the first line of a poem. Then they switch places, and Lily writes the second line of the poem on Snow Flower’s body. The two girls alternate in this way, touching increasingly intimate parts of their body, until they finish the poem.

Chapter 8: Beautiful Moon

During the hot days of “Catching Cool Breezes”, Lily, Snow Flower, and Beautiful Moon spend their time sewing for their dowry. They must make quilts and clothing for their entire in-law families, and they take particular interest in making and embroidering the shoes. Because of the summer heat, Lily’s father arranges a shaded space outdoors for them where they can work privately during the day while the men are away at work.

One day, while they are outdoors, Madame Gao delivers a letter from Elder Sister. In her secret writing, Elder Sister talks about how she is soon going to deliver her baby and how unhappy she is in her new family. Lily is sad for her sister, but happy that she herself may still live at home. Just as Lily finishes reading the letter, Beautiful Moon is stung by…

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