The most prominent symbol in "Feathers from a Thousand Li Away" is the feather itself. The vignette that comes just before the section tells of a woman who had a swan feather that she packed away so that she could one day give the feather to her daughter and tell her that it may look worthless, but that it carries with it all of her best intentions. The feather is a major symbol for hope, and the feather serves as a motif throughout the book for hope. By the end of the vignette, the woman's feather has been taken away by a customs official upon her entering the United States, and afterwards, her dreams do not unfold the way she had imagined them. So, the feather is a symbol for hope, particularly hope for a safe and prosperous life in America.