Feathers from a Thousand Li Away, Vignette Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Where had the woman purchased the swan?

2. According to the market vendor, what was the swan originally?

3. What is a li?

4. How was a woman’s value determined in China?

5. What are three hopes the woman has for the daughter she dreams of?

6. Why doesn’t the woman have the swan any more?

7. Why has the woman forgotten “why she had come and what she had left behind”?

8. What symbol represents the woman’s good intentions?

9. To whom does the woman wish to give this symbol?

10. Why hasn’t she done so?

1. She purchased it in the market in Shanghai.

2. The swan was a duck that tried to become a goose and became a swan instead, “too beautiful to eat.”

3. A li is about one-third of a mile.

4. If her husband belched loudly, it meant he had eaten a great deal, presumably because his wife was a good cook. Her ability to meet his needs determined her value.

5. First, her daughter will be valued for who she is. Second, she will speak perfect English, suggesting a good education, and no one will look down on her. Third, she will be happy, “too full to swallow any sorrow!”

6. The immigration officials took it away.

7. She had to fill out too many forms; she was caught up in routine activities.

8. The swan feather symbolizes her good intentions.

9. She wants to give it to her daughter.

10. The mother wants to be able to explain herself “in perfect American English.”

The Joy Luck Club Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why did Suyuan organize the first Joy Luck Club?

2. What are dyansyin foods?

3. According to Suyuan’s story, what happened to her twin daughters?

4. With whom did Suyuan compare Jing-mei?

5. According to Suyuan, what is the difference between Jewish and Chinese mah jong?

6. Auntie An mei had gone to China “three years ago,” according to the story. Tell at least two things that went wrong on the trip.

7. What motivates the aunties to give Jing-mei money for a trip to China?

8. What do the aunties want Jing-mei to tell her sisters in China about?

9. Jing-mei comments on the English of her mother and the other members of the Joy Luck Club, calling it “halting” and “fractured.” How does this relate to the old woman of the vignette, who wants to speak “perfect American English”? What does it suggest about Suyuan, An-mei, Lindo, and Ying-ying?

10. List four examples of breakdown in communication between Suyuan and Jing-mei.

1. Suyuan organized the first Joy Luck Club to fight discouragement during the war.

2. Dyansyin foods are supposed to bring good luck. They include dumplings shaped like ingots, rice noodles, boiled peanuts, and oranges.

3. Suyuan does not say. We only know that she arrived in Chungking without them.

4. Suyuan...

(The entire section is 455 words.)

Scar Questions and Answers

Study Questions
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,...

(The entire section is 540 words.)

The Red Candle Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. According to Chinese thinking, what is the difference between 14-carat and 24-carat gold?

2. Lindo relates a movie plot in which a promise is broken. Describe the plot.

3. What qualities would a Chinese mother expect of her daughter-in-law?

4. Describe Lindo as a child.

5. Why does Lindo move in with the Huangs four years before she marries Tyan-yu?

6. What final gift does Lindo’s mother give her?

7. What are some ways in which Tyan-yu and Huang Taitai are unkind to Lindo?

8. On her wedding day Lindo compares herself to the wind. In what ways does she say they are alike?

9. How is Lindo able to leave her marriage honorably?

10. Lindo claims the ancestors have given signs that her marriage to Tyan-yu should end. What are the three signs?

1. The Chinese accept only 24-carat gold, “pure inside and out,” as real gold. Fourteen-carat gold isn’t gold.

2. In the movie, an American soldier promises to come back and marry a girl he wants to sleep with. She gives in, but he abandons her and later marries another.

3. The mother would expect her daughter-in-law to raise sons, to take care of her husband’s parents when they were old, and to show respect to the family ancestors.

4. As a child, Lindo was physically attractive, healthy and strong, and obedient.


(The entire section is 430 words.)

The Moon Lady Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is Amah? Baba?

2. What plans has the family made to celebrate the Moon Festival?

3. What does Ying-ying describe as “this dark side of me that had my same restless nature”?

4. Why does Amah say Ying-ying’s mother will banish them both to Kunming?

5. What does Ying-ying mistake for a swimming snake, one of the Five Evils?

6. How do her rescuers know that Ying-ying is from a wealthy family?

7. According to Chinese tradition, why does the Moon Lady live apart from her husband?

8. Where is Ying-ying as she watches the play?

9. Ying-ying is unable to remember what her wish was until when?

10. What was her wish?

1. Amah is Ying-ying’s nanny. Baba is Ying-ying’s father.

2. The family has rented a large boat on Tai Lake and has made arrangements for special foods. A ceremony will take place during the evening.

3. She describes her shadow this way.

4. Ying-ying had ruined her special new clothes by smearing blood all over them.

5. Ying-ying thinks the fishing net that rescues her is one of the Five Evils.

6. The woman notices Ying-ying’s pale skin and soft feet, like one who had led a pampered, indoor life.

7. Chang-o, the Moon Lady, lives in the moon as a consequence of stealing and eating the peach of immortality, which was intended for her husband, the Master Archer.

8. She is hiding in the bushes on shore, near the stage.

9. Ying-ying remembers her wish when she is an old woman, on the day of the Moon Festival, as she tells this story.

10. She wanted her family to find her.

The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates, Vignette Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How old is the daughter?

2. What does the mother tell the daughter not to do?

3. Why does the mother tell her this?

4. What is The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates?

5. Why does the daughter want to see the book?

6. Why won’t the mother show her daughter the book?

7. When the mother refuses, what does the daughter demand?

8. How does the mother respond to the demand?

9. What does the daughter accuse her mother of?

10. Where is the daughter when she falls off her bicycle?

1. The daughter is seven.

2. She tells her not to ride her bicycle around the corner.

3. She wants to be close by if her daughter gets hurt.

4. The Twenty-Six Malignant Gates is a Chinese book that lists dangers children can get into.

5. She doesn’t believe her mother.

6. The mother says the book is written in Chinese and the daughter would not understand it.

7. The daughter wants to know what the 26 bad things are.

8. She says nothing.

9. The daughter says her mother doesn’t know what the 26 things are and that she doesn’t know anything at all.

10. She is not even at the corner.

Rules of the Game Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. When Waverly wants the salted plums, what does her mother tell her?

2. What was the inspiration for Waverly’s name?

3. How does Lindo react when Waverly asks her what Chinese torture is?

4. What gift does Waverly receive for Christmas?

5. Where does Waverly meet Lao Po?

6. How does Waverly manipulate her mother into letting her compete in a local chess tournament?

7. In what ways does Lindo encourage Waverly?

8. To whom does Lindo brag about Waverly’s success?

9. When Waverly says she wishes Lindo wouldn’t tell everyone she is her daughter, what does Lindo think she means?

10. How does...

(The entire section is 347 words.)

The Voice from the Wall Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is the death of a thousand cuts?

2. Why does Lena see danger everywhere?

3. Why doesn’t Lena look Chinese?

4. Who changes Ying-ying’s name to Betty?

5. Why is communication so difficult at the St. Clair household?

6. Where is the family’s new apartment?

7. Why does Ying-ying’s baby die?

8. How does Ying-ying react to the loss of her baby?

9. Why does Teresa come to the St. Clairs’ apartment?

10. Near the end of the story, why does Lena cry when she hears Teresa and her mother yelling at each other at night?

1. In the death of a thousand cuts, a...

(The entire section is 244 words.)

Half and Half Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. How does Rose describe her mother’s skill as housekeeper?

2. What word does An-mei use to describe Ted when she meets him?

3. What nationality does Mrs. Jordan believe Rose is?

4. Describe Rose and Ted’s relationship.

5. What event causes a change in their relationship?

6. What is nengkan?

7. Why doesn’t Bing play with Matthew, Mark, and Luke at the beach?

8. What symbols does An-mei use to try to bring Bing back?

9. How does An-mei react when Rose announces her divorce?

10. What evidence suggests that An-mei never completely abandons hope that Bing will return?


(The entire section is 294 words.)

Two Kinds Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Suyuan wants Jing-mei to be a prodigy, just like what two people?

2. Where does Suyuan get ideas to test for Jing-mei’s ability?

3. Why can’t “Old Chong” tell when Jing-mei is playing badly?

4. Why does Jing-mei rebel against her mother’s hopes for her musical ability?

5. Who says, “You aren’t a genius like me”?

6. To what two kinds of daughters does Suyuan refer?

7. How does Jing-mei end the argument about her piano lessons?

8. What other disappointments does Jing-mei mention that she caused Suyuan?

9. When does Suyuan give Jing-mei the piano?

10. In what way does Jing-mei...

(The entire section is 234 words.)

American Translation, Vignette Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is a “mirrored armoire”?

2. Where is the armoire?

3. According to the mother, why shouldn’t the mirror be at the foot of the bed?

4. Why does the daughter refuse to move it?

5. Why is the daughter irritated?

6. How does the mother solve the problem?

7. What is the mother’s housewarming present?

8. What is “peach-blossom luck”?

9. What does the mother see in the mirror?

10. What does the daughter see in the mirror?

1. An armoire is a cupboard or wardrobe (8 feet or taller) used before homes had built-in closets. This one has a mirror on it.


(The entire section is 191 words.)

Rice Husband Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What omen told Ying-ying that her husband would die?

2. Where do Lena and Harold live?

3. What do Lena and Harold argue about just before Ying-ying comes to visit?

4. Why did Arnold die?

5. How did Lena and Harold meet?

6. Designing restaurants around a theme made Livotny & Associates very successful. Whose idea was this?

7. In her relationship with Harold, what is Lena afraid of?

8. Why does Harold insist they split expenses 50-50?

9. Why doesn’t Lena eat ice cream?

10. What does the Chinese expression chunwang chihan mean?

1. A plant her husband had...

(The entire section is 241 words.)

Four Directions Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why does Waverly invite Lindo to lunch?

2. How does Lindo respond to the evidence that Rich and Waverly live together?

3. After their argument, when does Lindo start treating Waverly normally again?

4. Why does Waverly worry about Lindo’s criticism of Rich?

5. Who is Marvin Chen?

6. How does Waverly manipulate her mother into inviting Rich over for dinner?

7. What are three of Rich’s gaffes during his visit with the Jongs?

8. When does Waverly tell Lindo about her engagement?

9. What does Waverly realize during their conversation?

10. Where will Waverly and Rich travel for their honeymoon?...

(The entire section is 274 words.)

Without Wood Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who is Old Mr. Chou?

2. What does An-mei suspect of Ted?

3. What do hulihudu and heimongmong mean?

4. How does Rose’s psychiatrist respond to her feelings?

5. Why is Rose hurt when Ted sends her a check for $10,000?

6. According to An-mei, how can a girl become as strong as a tree?

7. According to Rose, what is the flaw with American ideas?

8. What clue suggests to Rose that Ted had been planning to leave her?

9. Why is Ted in a hurry to get the divorce over with?

10. Who does Rose see in her dream at the end of the story?

1. The guardian to the...

(The entire section is 216 words.)

Best Quality Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What is a life’s importance?

2. Why does Jing-mei shop with her mother in Chinatown?

3. What complaints does Suyuan have against her tenants? What complaints do they have against her?

4. Why does Suyuan tell Jing-mei to put the eleventh crab back in the tank? Why do they buy it?

5. Waverly gives Shoshana the best crab on the platter. How does Shoshana react?

6. The party is ruined when Waverly and Jing-mei argue. What do they argue about, and who starts it?

7. Why doesn’t Suyuan use the dishes Jing-mei gave her?

8. How does Suyuan describe Waverly?

9. Why is Jing-mei fixing her father a spicy dish?...

(The entire section is 363 words.)

Queen Mother of the Western Skies, Vignette Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Who are the two characters in this vignette?

2. What reason does the grandmother give for the baby’s laughter?

3. What is the relationship between the grandmother and the baby’s mother?

4. Why had the grandmother given up her innocence?

5. Why might the grandmother wonder if she has done the right thing?

6. Who is Syi Wang Mu?

7. Why would Syi Wang Mu know the answer to the grandmother’s question?

8. Who else needs to know this answer?

9. What will people be able to do as long as they still have hope, according to this vignette?

10. In what way does this vignette differ from the other...

(The entire section is 246 words.)

Magpies Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. What do magpies represent?

2. The turtle tells An-mei’s mother to swallow her tears. What was the turtle’s reason?

3. Who is Yan Chang?

4. At first, An-mei is very happy at Wu Tsing’s. What factors contribute to her happiness?

5. An-mei describes the clock in her mother’s room in great detail and says she learned something from it. What did she learn?

6. Why does An-mei’s mother break one of the pearls in the necklace Second Wife gives An-mei?

7. How had Second Wife arranged for An-mei’s mother to become Wu Tsing’s fourth wife?

8. What weakness of Wu Tsing does Second Wife exploit?

9. Who is...

(The entire section is 480 words.)

Waiting Between the Trees Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. When Ying-ying wore her hair down, what did her mother say she looked like?

2. Ying-ying did not appreciate what she had as a child. What object best symbolizes that statement?

3. When did Ying-ying’s husband’s business trips start becoming longer and more frequent?

4. How did Ying-ying feel about her pregnancy?

5. What do the two colors of the tiger symbolize?

6. Although Ying-ying did not throw herself into the lake after her husband left her, in what ways did she become like one of the lady ghosts of the lake?

7. Where did Ying-ying meet Clifford St. Clair?

8. How did Ying-ying’s first husband die?


(The entire section is 363 words.)

Double Face Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Waverly wonders whether she will look Chinese when she goes there on her honeymoon. Lindo assures her that everyone in China will know she is a foreigner. What will give her away?

2. Lindo wanted her children to have American circumstances and Chinese character. What was wrong with that?

3. Why has Waverly brought Lindo to Mr. Rory?

4. In what ways does Waverly show that she is ashamed of Lindo?

5. What kind of life did Lindo’s mother predict on the basis of her facial features?

6. What made Lindo’s nose change from being straight and smooth to crooked? What is wrong with having a crooked nose?

7. Who introduced Lindo and...

(The entire section is 404 words.)

A Pair of Tickets Questions and Answers

Study Questions
1. Why have Jing-mei and Canning gone to China?

2. Why did Lindo tell the twins that Suyuan would come to see them when Suyuan had been dead three months? Why did Jing-mei ask her to write a second letter?

3. How did Suyuan know that her entire family had been killed in the bombing?

4. What aspects of China surprise Jing-mei?

5. What does Jing-mei’s name tell us about Suyuan’s hopes?

6. Why had Suyuan abandoned her babies?

7. What happened to the girls after Suyuan left them?

8. Why did Canning refuse to come to China with Suyuan when she suggested it?

9. Why does the first sister remind Jing-mei of...

(The entire section is 383 words.)