Monday, August 20, 2007

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

by Lisa See

The story of Lily and Snow Flower is set in 19th century China, where foot-binding was common practice among many families. Foot-binding was the tradition of breaking young girls' feet to deform them into "lily" feet, small and delicate. The smaller the feet, the more marriageable the daughter was into a wealthy family because she was seen as more desirable. When they are very young, Snow Flower and Lily are matched as lao tung or "old sames" by a matchmaker and they sign a contract to become friends, bound to each other's soul, for life. As lao tung, they are taught the ancient language of nu shu in which to communicate across villages in secret writing only known by women. They write to each other of their foot-binding, their arranged marraiges, childbirth, and life as women in a male-dominated society. The story is a close look at a completely different culture, and how women survived their oppression and deformity, forming bonds that last a lifetime.


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