Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1929
The Carpet dealer and his wife
The Carpet dealer and his wife run a shop near Shen Teh’s tobacco shop. When Shen Teh is joyous because of her relationship with Yang Sun, she buys a shawl from their shop. The couple is supportive of Shen Teh, and when they learn, she does not have enough money to pay her rent, they lend her the funds. This loan becomes problematic for Shen Teh. She does not pay them back until after the carpet dealer has fallen ill, and the couple loses their shop when they cannot pay their taxes. Like many of the people who meet them both, they appreciate what Shen Teh has done, and are afraid of Shui Ta.
The elderly couple were Shen Teh’s first landlords when she moved to the city from the countryside. They made her leave when she ran out of money. However, as soon as Shen Teh opens her tobacco shop, they appear at her door with six relatives and demand lodging. They take advantage of Shen Teh’s generosity, though they also try to protect her. When creditors and beggars come into her shop, it is they who suggest making up a relative so that Shen Teh can put them off. Their suggestion leads to Shen Teh creating her ‘‘cousin,’’ Shui Ta. Shui Ta later has them and their family arrested, and puts some of their family to work in her tobacco factory. For the most part, the elderly couple only likes Shen Teh because they benefit from her kindness, and dislike Shui Ta because he is tough on them.
Shu Fu is a wealthy barber who runs a shop near Shen Teh’s tobacco business. Shu Fu has both good and bad points. He attacks Wang with curling tongs, breaking his hand. Shu Fu does nothing to help the man he injured. On the other hand, Shu Fu is enamored by Shen Teh. He donates several buildings on his property to her so that she can house the homeless. He offers to marry her to save her business, though she ultimately declines. Shu Fu suffers at the hands of Shui Ta, however. When Shu Fu gives Shen Teh a blank check, Shui Ta takes advantage of the situation and writes in 10,000 silver dollars. Shui Ta turns the buildings Shu Fu donated into his tobacco factory. Ultimately, Shu Fu is a businessman, and as such, he is more like Shui Ta than Shen Teh would have liked.
See Elderly couple
Mrs. Shin is the woman from whom Shen Teh buys her tobacco shop. The sale makes Shin a pauper, and she demands rice and money from the prostitute. Shin is not fond of Shui Ta, and seems to like Shen Teh more after meeting him. Though Shin takes advantage of Shen Teh’s goodness, Shin becomes Shui Ta/Shen Teh’s confident. Shin she figures out that they are the same person and that Shen Teh is pregnant. Shin keeps this secret as well.
Yang Sun is an unemployed pilot with whom Shen Teh falls in love. Yang Sun uses her feelings to better his own situation: he never really seems to love her, though he impregnates her. When Yang Sun needs 500 silver dollars to obtain a pilot’s job, he convinces Shen Teh to give him the 200 silver dollars she just obtained from the carpet-dealer and his wife. He almost persuades her to sell her shop to get the other 300 silver dollars. However, Shui Ta learns that Yang Sun plans to leave her behind when he takes the job and does not really love her. Though Shen Teh still loves him and tries to marry him, the event is never consummated because Yang Sun and his mother only want the 300 silver dollars. Yang Sun eventually goes to work for Shui Ta to pay back the 200 silver dollars he owes Shen Teh, and thrives under the ruthless businessman. At the end of the play, he does seem to have some feelings for Shen Teh. When he believes Shui Ta has somehow hurt her, he gets the police to arrest him. Yet Sun stands up for Shui Ta in court. Yang Sun is only concerned with survival at any cost, and...
(The entire section contains 1929 words.)
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