The necessity of yielding is an important theme in Spring Moon. On his deathbed, the Old Venerable (the first patriarch) tells nine-year-old Spring Moon, “We are mere mortals who must learn not to contend with life but to yield to it.” This message becomes the guiding principle of her life. To console her daughter at their parting, Spring Moon says that, “both of us, you and I, must yield,” but Lustrous Jade unlearns this lesson at school and becomes an unyielding adult. Recalled by her mother-in-law, Spring Moon ends her affair with Bold Talent, saying, “We shall eventually think that our separation is a natural state. Yielding more, we shall desire less.” Bold Talent challenges her resolution, but she remains constant to the precept, paradoxically contradicting herself. Before leaving for Hong Kong, as she pays homage to her relatives and ancestors at their graves, Spring Moon says, “In yielding we are like the water, by nature placid, conforming to the hollow of the smallest hand; in time, shaping even the mountains to its will.” The characters who yield usually survive, while the characters who resist often die needlessly. At the end of the novel, only August Winds and ninety-year-old Spring Moon remain to greet Enduring Promise. By yielding and surviving, Spring Moon is able to fulfill her destiny of reuniting five generations of Changs at the graves of their ancestors.

Juxtaposition is the author’s primary method of...

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