Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Ages ago, in the realm of the Great Void, the Goddess Nugua, whose task it is to repair the Dome of Heaven, rejects a stone that she finds unsuited to her purpose. She touches it, however, so the stone becomes endowed with life. Thereafter it can move as it pleases. In time, it chances on a crimson flower in the region of the Ethereal, where each day it waters the tender blossoms with drops of dew. At last the plant is incarnated as a beautiful young woman. Remembering the stone that showered the frail plant with refreshing dew, she prays that in her human form she might repay it with the gift of her tears. Her prayers are to be granted, for the stone, too, was given life in the Red Dust of earthly existence. At his birth, the piece of jade is miraculously found in the mouth of Pao-yu, a younger son of the rich and powerful house of Chia, which by imperial favor was raised to princely eminence several generations before.
At the time of Pao-yu’s birth, the two branches of the Chia family live in great adjoining compounds of palaces, pavilions, and parks on the outskirts of Peking. The Matriarch, Madame Shih, an old woman of great honor and virtue, rules as the living ancestress over both establishments. Chia Ging, the prince of the Ningkuofu, retired to a Taoist temple some time before, and his son Chia Gen is master in his place. The master of the Yungkuofu is Chia Sheh, the older son of the Matriarch. Chia Cheng, her younger son and Pao-yu’s father,...
(The entire section is 1499 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Dream of the Red Chamber Summary. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!