Reading Group Guide
1. What is Feng’s relationship like with her parents compared to her grandfather? What important lessons does her grandfather teach her?
2. Why is Feng attracted to Bi? What kind of background does he come from, and why is it considered unacceptable for Feng to associate with him?
3. Describe the hierarchy in the Sang family. Where does Feng fit in? How does she learn to manipulate these relationships to her own advantage?
4. What is Feng’s sister and mother’s view of an ideal life? How is this different from what Feng wants? Does Feng finally achieve this life, and if so, how does it make her feel?
5. Do you think Xiong Fa is a good or bad husband? Is he also a victim of society’s expectations of him?
6. Why does Feng feel like she has to give up her daughter? Even if you may not agree with her decision, can you sympathize with her reasons for doing it?
7. Do you think the suffering that Feng endures during the Cultural Revolution is enough to atone for the mistakes she has made? Why or why not?
8. How does Feng change throughout the novel? Has she learned anything about herself?
9. Based on this novel, what do you feel is the prevailing attitude toward daughters in China? Is it very different from how daughters are perceived in the West?
10. Are you surprised that the author is a man, given the book’s first-person perspective and subject matter? Do you think that men can write about these things?