Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 540
1. Who is Popo and how did she affect both An-mei’s mother and An-mei herself?
2. How does An-mei describe the house in Ningpo?
3. In what ways does Popo demonstrate that she loves An-mei and her brother?
4. In addition to remarrying, what had An-mei’s mother done that indicated a lack of respect for her family?
5. What caused An-mei’s smooth-neck scar?
6. Popo recognizes the seriousness of An-mei’s injury and tries to give her the will to live. What does she say to An-mei that helps her recover?
7. Why do Popo and Auntie speak badly of An-mei’s mother?
8. Why does An-mei’s mother return to Uncle and Auntie’s house?
9. In what way does An-mei’s mother demonstrate “shou so deep it is in your bones”?
10. In the last several paragraphs, An-mei makes several references to “what is in your bones.” What does she mean?
1. Popo is An-mei’s maternal grandmother. She forced An-mei’s mother to leave the house and leave her children behind because she had remarried after her husband’s death. She made An-mei feel unlucky to have such a bad mother. She took good care of An-mei in other ways, though, and An-mei knew she loved her.
2. An-mei mentions “cold hallways and tall stairs.” She also says “our house was so unhappy.” A portrait of her father, “a large, unsmiling man” hangs in the main hall.
3. Popo tries to keep the ghosts from stealing the children. She tells them stories to teach them right from wrong. She takes care of An-mei’s burn, including telling her things to give her the will to live. Even her decision to disown An-mei’s mother is an effort to do the right thing from her point of view.
4. An-mei’s mother had gone to her new home without taking the furniture from her dowry, without taking 10 pairs of silver chopsticks, and without visiting her husband’s grave or the other family graves.
5. An-mei’s smooth-neck scar is the result of a bad burn. A pot of boiling soup spilled on her when she was four.
6. First Popo tells An-mei that the family is prepared for her death. If she dies, her funeral will be simple and her family will not mourn her very long. Second, and more important to An-mei, Popo tells her that her mother has left and will forget all about her if she dies.
7. Popo and Auntie speak badly of An-mei’s mother because she disgraced her family. Instead of remaining a widow, she married a wealthy man who already had three wives; and she left without showing respect to the family ancestors.
8. An-mei’s mother returns to Uncle and Auntie’s house because Popo is dying. She is the oldest daughter and wants to show respect.
9. An-mei’s mother demonstrates shou when she makes a soup of herbs and medicines and cuts a piece of flesh from her own arm. Then she feeds the soup to her dying mother, hoping to save her life. She does this even though her mother had disowned her and forced her to leave without her children.
10. By “in your bones” An-mei refers to people’s true nature, who they are when stripped of all artificiality.
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