One of the major themes in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is the bond between women. In Chinese society during the setting of the story, women were still bound by strict cultural practices--the novel describes in detail the process of foot binding. They are also relegated to certain rooms of the house to conduct their daily activities. Within these rooms, a special bond is developed among the women. Further, Snow Flower is Lily's laotong, a special friend much like a sister. The two girls go through their adolescence together and forge a strong friendship. They both learn the language of nu shu, a type of language and script that is only known to women. In this way, women's language and communication remains private and removed from that of men. In these ways, women are able to reclaim their space and assert some type of agency in their lives.