Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Prologue-Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Lisa See

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Prologue-Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Prologue: Sitting Quietly

The narrator identifies herself as an eighty-year-old widow who is being cared for by Peony, her grandson’s wife. Lily is choosing to tell the story of her life now, because she has “nothing left to lose and few to offend” (3). She says she longed for love her entire life, an inappropriate desire for a woman, and that this desire caused her to take extreme measures to gain approval, first from her mother, and then from the family she married into. She says she endured physical pain to have her feet broken and shaped according to tradition, but that this experience taught her to endure other types of pain, until she became rigid within her heart, angry and unforgiving. She recalls how she found an emotional outlet in the secret women’s writing, called nu shu, by which she corresponded with her lautong, or secret-writing partner, a girl named Snow Flower. She describes a fan that she has kept over the years, which contains the writings she and Snow Flower exchanged, and which is now a record of both their friendship and the differences that led to the end of that friendship. She says that, after recording the autobiographies of many other women who were unable to write in the secret language, she has now chosen to record her own story. Her intention is that, upon her death, Peony should burn this story so that it reaches her ancestors, her husband, and Snow Flower, before Lily is reunited with them in the afterlife.

Part One: Daughter Days

Chapter 1: Milk Years

The narrator’s name is Lily, and she is a descendant of the Yao tribe, as are most of the people in her village of Yongming County. The people in her village are neither very rich nor very poor. She describes her home as a typical one, with animals and food stores kept downstairs where the eating space and the hearth are located. Upstairs there is a room where the women gather and the unmarried girls sleep. Of her life, Lily says, “I was a so-so girl who lived with a…

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