Lisa See’s novel Snow Flower and the Secret Fan takes place in China during the 1800s. Lily is the main character and first-person narrator of her life story. As the novel opens, she is eighty years old, reflecting about a fan that she received from her friend Snow Flower many years ago. Along the fan's many folds, the two women have recorded their lives' significant events in Nü Shu, a secret written language used and understood only by women.
The story begins in the home of a family in rural China. Lily is five years old and longs for affection from her mother. Lily understands that as a daughter in Chinese culture of the 1800s, her life is considered essentially useless. She spends time with her siblings doing chores and vying for the attention of their mother.
(The entire section is 140 words.)
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