Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Essay Topics

Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Essay Topics

  1. Early in the novel, Lily confesses that she was desperate to be loved. Discuss the various forms of love that occur within Snow Flower and the Secret Fan and the ways in which Lily herself expresses various types of love.
  1. Lily’s mother quotes an old saying, “If a daughter doesn’t marry out, she’s not valuable; if fire doesn’t raze the mountain, the land will not be fertile” (79). Discuss the relationship between fertility and female suffering in the world of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan.
  1. The society depicted in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is one in which gender roles are firmly defined and enforced. Discuss three characters whose behavior exceeds or subverts these gender norms.
  1. Although sexuality is a private matter in her society, Lily observes that people sometimes speak candidly about sexuality and sometimes treat the subject as taboo. Discuss how, in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, the private matter of women’s sexuality can affect their public and practical experiences.
  1. In the prologue and epilogue of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Lily identifies herself as an old woman awaiting death. The central story of the friendship between Snow Flower and Lily is presented within the frame of Lily narrating the story for Peony to record. How is this story affected by the fact that the narrator is one of the two friends who form the central narrative?
  1. Lily as narrator gives us the sense that women are both undesired and necessary within her society. They are undesired, because they consume resources without contributing to the family income. They are necessary, because they are the means by which male children can be born. Within the novel, there are other characters who, regardless of their sex, are both undesirable and yet necessary. Identify three characters in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, and discuss the specific ways in which they are both undesirable and necessary within their community.
  1. While political events are supposed to be confined to the male sphere, they do have considerable impact on the lives of women. Discuss the ways in which…
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