Spring Moon presents a Chinese woman living in the privileged Chang courts. Although Spring Moon has access to the same education as a man, she adopts the traditional Confucian principles that define a woman as humble and submissive. She rejects the opportunities available to her and instead opts for a more conservative and patriarchal way of life.
Her daughter, Lustrous Jade, opposes her mother's way of life and instead promotes Communism as a means of modernizing China and solving its problems. Her revolutionary spirit serves as a counterpoint to her mother's submissiveness.
The story of Spring Moon and her daughter illustrates the Communist Revolution and its effect on class, gender, and national identity. Spring Moon loses her husband and uncle in the uprising but remains devoted to protecting the honor of her clan at all costs. Her daughter, on the other hand, breaks free from tradition and instead pursues the political ideology that will eventually destroy her family's wealth and social standing.