Friday, October 2, 2009

Question of the Week (10/2/09)

Using evidence from the text, what symbols are prevalent in Part One? How are they maintained in the beginning of Part Two? Post your answer by Sunday 10/4. Enjoy your weekend.

39 comments:

Katie Callahan said...

Throughout Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2, there are many continuous symbols. I think that silence is the symbol for secrets. In Part 1, Ruth has her week of silence (9) during which, she doesn’t speak. She is able to keep to herself and not get involved in any conflicts. She keeps everything to herself during this week. I think this week also represents a lot of the rest of her year when she doesn’t always share what she’s thinking or what she really wants. The week of silence all started when she was a little girl and broke her arm going down a slide (77). Afterwards, she doesn’t talk for an extended period of time because her mother is treating her well and she doesn’t want to break the spell. This is an example of keeping secrets from her mother. In Part 2, Precious Auntie is unable to speak and therefore is always keeping secrets. After Baby Uncle died and Precious Auntie had LuLing, the entire family keeps silent about what really happened (199). Precious Auntie is never able to truly tell LuLing that she is her true mother because of her accident and inability to speak.

Manuscripts and writing is a symbol for answers and healing. LuLing gave Ruth her life story to read (13). Ruth has not yet taken the time to read it, but I think that once she does a lot of answers will emerge about her mother and she will be able to understand her mother much better. Also in Part 1 is the memory of Ruth’s diary (158). Ruth was aware that her mother continuously read her diary. After a big argument, Ruth wrote that she wished LuLing would kill herself, after all, she talked about it all of the time (159). Afterwards, Ruth felt really guilty and wrote “I’m sorry. Sometimes I just wish you would say you’re sorry too.” (166) This is an example of how writing is healing. Even though LuLing never read those words, it was still healing for Ruth. In Part 2, Precious Auntie left LuLing a life story, just the way LuLing would leave for Ruth. Just like Ruth, LuLing did not read it for a while but once she did she understood and accepted secrets about Precious Auntie’s past (189)

Michaela Helble said...

I agree with just about everything Katie said in her post. The only thing I didn't agree with was that Ruth was keeping secrets by refusing to speak when she broke her arm. I don't think she had any secrets to keep. However, I definetly agree with Katie when she talks about how silence is the symbol for secrets. This symbol is one of the most continous symbols throughout book one and the beggining of book two. Silence and secrets are apparent in all the characters lives. For example, Ruth stays silent to hide the truth about her "pregnancy". She doesn't tell anyone for awhile, not even her mother, saying "she [Ruth]could not tell her mother she was pregnant". (134). Lui Ling is also full of secrets, and doesn't speak them out loud, refusing to tell Ruth anything. Rather than open up to Ruth about her past, she writes it down. Lui Ling is extremely secretive to the point that when Ruth asks about her past, Lui Ling says nothing, preferring to say silent. Ruth doesn't know anything about Lui Ling's past, so when Precious Auntie's ghost comes and Lui Ling asks for advice, Ruth isn't sure what Precious Auntie would say. Instead, she just has to "guess what her mother wanted to hear."(127). This is all because Lui Ling stayed silent. Like Katie said, silence and secrets continues in book two through Precious Auntie. "'I am your mother', the words said. I read that only after she had died" (199). This quote shows that Precious Auntie didn't tell Lui Ling her secrets. Basically, although Precious Auntie could have told Lui Ling these secrets, she chose to stay silent. I also think that, in a way, silence is a symbol for truth. Though both Lui Ling and Precious Aunie don't tell their daughter's anything about their pasts, they write down words they would not or could not say. When Lui Ling gives Ruth the pages that contain her story, she says "Just some old things about my family." (13). She is unable to express the truth and the importance of the words in speech. She can only show the truth in silence, through writing. This is true of Precious Auntie, too. She is unable to truly talk to Lui Ling, and keeps her in the dark. Lui Ling doesn't know the Precious Auntie is her mother until she "read what she [Precious Auntie] wrote." (199). Every character in this story has secrets and truth that they deny others by staying silent.

Sarah McAndrew said...

I also agree with Katie, Ruth uses her silence as power so that she can get her mom to continue treating her well while her arm is broken. Silence is a reoccurring theme throughout the book. For instance when LuLing is telling everyone who her real mother is at the Chinese thanksgiving Gaoling tightens her lips and doesn’t say anything. What I mean is that there are a lot of secrets within the family that are kept hidden through silence. However there are ways people use in the book to get around not talking to get what they want. For example when Ruth is younger, she uses the sand to trick her mother into believing it is Precious Auntie telling her to let Ruth go to the neighbors, or move to San Francisco.

Sonya said...

Although I agree with Katie that in some cases, manuscripts and writing are symbols for answers and healing, I also think that writing is a symbol for power and connections through generations. LuLing says as she teaches Ruth how to write Chinese characters that, "Each character is a thought, a feeling, meanings, history, all mixed into one," (59). Just as Precious Auntie taught LuLing how to write, she tries to pass this knowledge on to Ruth, connecting the three generations of mothers and daughters. The things LuLing writes for Ruth in Part 1 and the beginning of Part 2 (Truth and Heart) not only will provide answers for Ruth when she reads them, but give her more knowledge of and a connection with her mother when she was younger, Precious Auntie, and her family history.
Ruth finds that what she writes can have power as well. She finds that by writing in the sand and pretending that Precious Auntie is talking through her, she has power over her mother. For instance, when she is scared of Lance, she pretends to be Precious Auntie and writes in the sand that she and her mother must move immediately to Land's End in San Francisco (148-149).
As well as writing in the sand, Ruth writes in her diary. She knows that her mother reads what she writes. One day, she is mad at LuLing and writes, "Go ahead, kill yourself! Precious Auntie wants you to, and so do I!" (159). LuLing reads this, and tries to kill herself by jumping out the window. In this case, the words Ruth wrote in her diary had the power to almost kill her mother.
Ink, which has to do with writing, is also power. In the beginning of part 2, we find out that LuLing's family makes ink for a living. This is their power. Ink also has the power to injure. Precious Auntie, wanting to hurt herself, tries to swallow hot black resin (used for making ink), which is how she maims herself (198).

Alex Krass said...

There are a lot of symbols that are apparent in part 1 and continuing into part 2. Like people have said silence is a big part of the book. We see it with Ruth when she breaks her arm and uses it to her advantage to get the better of her mom. We also see it with Precious Auntie. She had her horiblie accident that made it so she could not speak and he has to learn to communicate in other ways.

People have also commented on the fact that writing is a big part of this book. I feel that not just writing but communication in general is very important. We see it with Ruth writing in the sand instead of talking. Precious Auntie using her hands and face to communicate with LuLing. Even when people talk we see how important it is to me what you say. LuLing is always threatining to kill her self it it clearly takes a toll on Ruth and the way she looks at life. I think that communication and silence are two very important themes.

Jennie said...

From Part 1, and the beginning of Part 2, there are many themes in the book including: secrets, silence, guilt, and family. These themes are symbolized by different things throughout the book. I think secrets (tying in silence) is definitely the most prominent theme in The Bonesetter's Daughter. In a flashback from Ruth's point of view after finding her diary in her mother's house, Ruth recalls many secrets she "kept" from her mother. On page 157, Ruth thinks, "Didn't Mom ever realize...how her demands for no secrets drove me to hide even more from her?" LuLing had her own secrets that she kept from Ruth. One was how Precious Auntie died (she said it was too horrible to tell). And others she said were the "things too bad to say"(157).
LuLing hurts herself badly in this flashback--Ruth thinks it's because LuLing read her diary and was hurt by what she saw (with due cause). This results in a lot of silence between Ruth and LuLing. It seems that the two of them react to bad fights or disagreements by being silent--either that or LuLing is loud in her defense. In Part 1, Ruth's diary symbolizes the silence and secrets that LuLing and Ruth share (or don't share).
Bones are a symbol connected to family for LuLing. Her mother, Precious Auntie, was a bonesetter, because her father was. LuLing's grandfather was a bonesetter because previous generations were. "That was their inheritance"(184). LuLing learned a lot from Precious Auntie, including anatomy related to bones and bonesetting. She even went with Precious Auntie to the cave to search for dragon bones.
The symbol of bones relates to Precious Auntie for LuLing. She even went with Precious Auntie to search for special dragon bones (on page

Jennie said...

I agree with what Sonya said concerning writing as a symbol: "writing is a symbol for power and connections through generations."

This is very true throughout the book. Simply reading Ruth's diary results in LuLing hurting herself and ending up in the hospital. LuLing attempts to teach Chinese characters to Ruth. This shows the importance of writing for LuLing. It connects her back to her Chinese roots, and how she lived with her family when she was in China. She wants Ruth to have this connection as well, but Ruth never really works hard at her Chinese studies.

LuLing's family (not the father of Precious Auntie, but LuLing's false mother's family) made ink for writing in China. They brought their trade to be sold in Peking in 1920, where the profit would be better (176). LuLing's family's craft was creating ink that would be used for writing the powerful characters that LuLing attempts to pass on to her daughter.

Erin Donohue said...

Previous posts have commented on the the importance of silence - it is a way that Ruth can get what she wants - but Tan has so far given us examples of how no relationship is similar in parts I/II of the book.

Ruth uses silence just as any daughter would in order to keep her secrets to herself and apart from her mother, and we can see that this created a problem during Ruth's childhood when she had to deal with Lance: "Ruth felt sick to her stomach. Her mother saw danger where there wasn't. And now that something was truly really awful, she was blind. If Ruth told her the actual truth, she would probably go crazy. So what differences did it make? She was alone. No one could ever save her" (148). The only way that Ruth can hide these secrets is by lying even more and using Precious Auntie as an outlet- as a plea for help and guidance from someone other than LuLing.

In the overall 'big' picture, I have noticed that this book really does focus more specifically on mother-daughter relationships and the different parts within these relationships that help define them. The symbol of keeping secrets is something that is shared and passed down through the different generations, both young and old, throughout this book.

The connections to the ink that Sonya and Jennie have both made are also something that I agree on as being used as a symbol throughout part I/II as well (focusing on communication, this time in the form of writing).

Katie Callahan said...

I also agree with what Sonya said about manuscripts being a symbol of connections throughout generations. This is especially important in this book because LuLing and her family moved to the United States, away from their home and traditional culture. They are still able to keep the culture alive. I think by having records and accounts of past generations, Ruth and LuLing are able to have a better understanding of one antoher and one another's pasts.

But, I disagree with what Sonya said about LuLing teaching Ruth to write was connecting the three generations. Ruth did not enjoy, or put a lot of effort into her calligraphy. She still doesn't know how to read or write it. So I think that writing connects LuLing and Precious Auntie, but not as much with Ruth.

Kelsey said...

As many people have said, one of the most prevalent symbols in the book is silence. At many times, it symbolizes secrets and secrecy. In part 1, there is the silence when Ruth doesn't speak for an entire week, bottling and hiding many feelings inside. Also, as Michaela said, in part 1, after Ruth thinks she is pregnant, she keeps the secret to herself, too scared to tell anyone about it: "Of course, she could not tell her mother she was pregnant. Experience had taught her that her mother worried too much even when she had no reason to worry." (134). Clearly, she was worried that if she spoke up and told her mother about what she believed was happening to her, her mother would never forgive her, so instead, she kept the secret by being silent.
In part 2, we learn about Precious Auntie and why she was silent not only physically, but why she was so secretive about how her face and throat were burned. "They found Precious Auntie thrashing on the floor, hissing air out of a mouth blackened with blood and ink." This shows why she was physically unable to speak, and then later "And I did not know who she really was until I read what she wrote... 'I am your mother' the words said. I read that only after she died." shows that she couldn't tell LuLing that she was her real mother.

Kelsey said...

I agree with Katie that the manuscripts are also another important symbol for answers/healing. Both LuLing and Ruth are unable to connect and become close to their mothers, LuLing because she didn't know that Precious Auntie was her real mother until after she died, and Ruth because of the cultural and emotional differences between she and her mom. I agree that the manuscripts, once they are translated and read, will really help to clear things up, and give each woman a better understanding of her mother.

Lauren Hoh said...

Like many others have said, there are many symbols that are apparent in Part One of the book. I think one important one is the symbol of family over generations and how it is important. Without the family history of Lui Ling and Precious Auntie we wouldn't know anything about where they come from or be able to figure out the mystery of the book. For example, in the chapter Heart, when it is giving an account of Lui Ling's life as a young girl, it says: "These are the things I must not forget. I was raised with the Lui clan in the rocky Western Hills south of Peking. The oldest recorded name of our village was Immortal Heart." (p.173) and it goes on to tell about her family and their ink making business.

Precious Auntie, on the other hand, has a very interesting past that we learn about in the chapter Heart. From pages 182-200 it talks all about Precious Auntie and how she got her burns and the truth unfolds about Lui Ling, and I think that is very important in the book.

I agree with Sonya and Katie Callahan that manuscripts are important too and I think they connect to the history of Lui Ling and Precious Auntie, because if Precious Auntie hadn't written to Lui Ling her past, Lui Ling would never have known who her real mother was.

Michael said...

The two major symbols are silence and writing. Silence forces Ruth to ruminate on her relationship with Art, his daughters, and her own mother. Writing becomes important when Ruth finds her mother's papers in her desk, and she realizes that they are probably important. Similarly, in the prologue, the only way Precious Aunty can communicate is through writing.
Part two is family history in the form of writing by Liu Ling. The whole 7th chapter is her written recollection of what Precious Aunty told her about her birth and the time before. The only obvious way for this novel to come together is for us to learn what all the manuscripts talked about in the book mean

Ella Kaplan said...

I think that the silence and manuscripts are the symbols that represent the theme of secrets and the revealing of secrets in Parts 1 and 2. An example in part one is when we learn about Ruth’s diary and how it revealed Ruth’s secrets to LuLing on her thoughts and what her secrets were. “In her diary, she could be as truthful as she wanted to be… She knew that her mother was sneaking looks at what she had written, because one day she asked Ruth, ‘Why you like this song ‘turn, turn, turn’? Just ‘cause someone else like?’ “ (p. 156). Through writing, Ruth reveals the truth and I agree with what Jennie said about how one event caused by the journal lead to a lot of silence between Ruth and LuLing. I think that the silence and writing are big symbols, but secrets are the reason why silence and writing come up so much in this book. I think the real major theme is secrets and how they affect the relationships between the characters.

An example from part two of discovering a new secret is “she did not speak to me for days. Instead she wrote and wrote and wrote. Finally she handed me a bundle of pages laced together with cord. This is my true story, she told me, and yours as well. Out of spite, I did not read most of those pages. But when I did, this is what I learned.” (p. 188-189). At this point of the story, the truth is revealed that LuLing is actually Precious Auntie’s daughter and how Precious Auntie came to be. Unlike part one where silence came after an incident with Ruth’s journal, in the manuscript Precious Auntie reveals why she is silent.

I have noticed that there are two different types of silence in this book; physically being silent and the choice to be silent. I think that the two types do inflict with one another during one point of the book (where Ruth broke her arm and when she started living with art, the one week where she looses her voice).

I also think it is really interesting what Sonya mentioned about how the Ink was a big symbol. I agree with that had the power to injure and to reveal the truth.

Ella Kaplan said...

I agree with kelsey and mike!

tylertorh said...

I agree with Katie in the fact that one of the most dominant and easily recognizable themes in book one is the use of silence. throughout book one silence is used in many different ways one example being when Ruth breaks her arms (77) I mean i found that this theme was the easiest to pick up on because in chapter one on pg (9) it begins "for the past eight years, always starting on august twelfth, Ruth Young lost her voice" I also agree with sonya in the fact that writing and language is another theme throughout the book with such examples as how Ruth draws symbols in a sand box for the voice of great Auntie (127)

Bryce said...

The main symbol in part 1 is secrets. During part 1, the reader comes upon many different secrets and they ponder what the answers are. On page 167 there are a lot of secrets that Ruth wants to find out about her mother. "Precious Auntie, wearing the perculiar headdress and high-collared winter clothes. What did this mean? Was her mother demented thirty years before? Or was Precious Auntie really who her mother said she was ? And if she was, did that mean her mother was not demented?" Also later on the page, "What did the sentences say? The names of the dead, the secrets they took with them. What secrets?" This shows that there are so many secrets that Ruth does not know about her mother. She does not even know who her grandmother is. Part 1 really sets the reader up. It gets the reader wondering and then Part 2 starts to answer the questions the reader wants to know. Page 181 answers a few questions, "He was my real father, and he would have married Precious Auntie, if only he had not died on their wedding day." WE have only read one chapter in Part 2 and we already so many of the secrets have been answered. Before we did not know how Precious Auntie's face got so badly burned or who LuLing's mother was or why the Book is called the Bonesetter's Daughter. We now know all these answers. Therefore I don't think that secrets is a theme really maintained in part 2. I think that part 2 is answering the secrets from part 1. Sure, there are still secrets that we do not know, such as how Precious Auntie killed herself. But one can guess that that secrets will be answered as well. I think that you need both parts of the book to understand the book, but I don't think that secrets necessarily are maintained throughout the book.
Another theme in part one was superstition about ghosts and curses. For example, LuLing believes that Precious Aunties ghost is haunting her and she tries to communicate with her through Ruth. "You feel something else matter?... Another ghost here?" LuLing asks Ruth on page 123. LuLing is superstitious that Precious Auntie is haunting her. Also on page 11 and 12, "She scanned the sky, but it was too light and misty to see any 'ghost bodies' burning up." Ghosts and curses appear many times throughout part 1 as they do in part 2. "'This is a curse,' she murmured, as she stared down at the bodies of the men she loved. For three sleepless days after their deaths, Precious Auntie apologized to the corpses of her father and Baby Uncle. She talked to their still faces. She touched their mouths, though to fear this was forbidden and caused the women of the house to fear that the wronged ghosts might either possess her or decide to stay." This shows how curses and the belief of ghosts is maintained in part 2 as well as part 1.
I agree with a lot of other people about how silence is a theme throughout the book. Precious Auntie is silent in part 1 and we find out how in part 2. But I do not see how it is a major theme. I think that secrets is the main theme, well at least in apart one.

lynda said...

Silence is one of the main symbols in the novel The Bonesetter's Daughter by Amy Tan. For example is Ruth's week of silence, a ritual surrounding the week she somehow manages to lose her voice. p9. Also, Ruth is unable to speak up for herself during the pregnancy incident p134. And then she says that precious auntie wants them to move using no words. Yeah and then in book two Precious Auntie can't speak so that's silence as well

tylertorh said...

I find that another theme throughout the book is the act of perserving ones self in a manuscript or diary like both Ruth and LuiLing do. The first documentation of life comes from LuiLing and is passed down to Ruth The second is a diary in which Ruth uses it to manipulate her mother and almost accidently kill her by writing the words "You talk about killing yourself, so why don't you ever do it?" (159) the last example of manuscripture depicting a youths upbringing is the second document that Ruth finds in LuiLings house. This one is entitled "Change" I think that for so many different "diary" typed pieces of literature to be present in the book it is safe to say that it could be considered a theme

Meghan Licciardi said...

I agree that silence is a symbol, but i think it symbolizes more then power. Yes, Ruth gets power when she is silent, but she also gets positive attention. Her mother, Luling, isn't constantly criticizing her. And though that can be seen as Ruth trying to gain power, it is also her enjoying the ability to relax. She is always being judged openly by her mother, and her mom says nothing when she is injured. That is not just about her trying to get power, that is only part of it. The reader knows she likes the power, thinks she can use it to get things, like getting a dog. But you also know that she is surprised when she doesn't get reprimanded, she is surprised by her mothers concern. So it is about more then just power.

Sam said...

The concept of ghostwriting seems to be very prevelant in the book. As Tor said, the characters like to record their thoughts into documents, but also they seem to be relaying messages from others through their own words. Ruth's job involves writing other people's ideas in her own words. Ruth even states that "most people [call] her a ghostwriter" (31). Also, LuLing explains how she was a translater for Precious Auntie taking her words that she could not speak and turning then into audible words that others could understand. Another example of this phenominon in part two is how LuLing believes that Ruth can relay messages from Precious Auntie's ghost through the sand board. Even though this is very superstitious it is an example mentioned more than once in the book.

Like Lauren said I also agree that silence is another important symbol in the story. It is clear that each of the mother daughter characters uses silence in her own special way from control to keeping secrets. There are many other important symbols in the book, but I think that ghostwriting and silence are the key ones.

Alice.Rottersman said...

In the Bonesetter's Daughter cats symbolize memory. In part one we see evidence of LuLing loosing her memory when she forgets about Fufu the cat's death, "Hadn't she told her mother Fu-Fu had died? She must have" (67). In part two cats are further linked with memory when they talk about fleas causing people to loose there mind, "Precious Aunty suspected that a tiny flea had crawled into her ear and was feasting on her brain.Confusion Itch was the name of the malady, Precious Aunty said. It is the reason people often scratch their heads when they cannot remember" (178). Where do fleas live? On cats. I rest my case.

I agree with...everyone else who left a comment...about the whole silence and manuscripts thing.

P.S. I really like the new blog design...

Emily Lohr said...

As previously mentioned the two most important symbols in the book are silence and writing. Silence is used as a symbol for the secrets kept in this book. Although they aren't really secrets since most of what is secret is written down on paper. Ruth has a week of silence starting on August twelfth where she always loses her voice (9). She uses this silent week as a way of escape from everything that's going on around her. Ruth also kept a diary during her teenage years which her mother would read. Ruth never actually confronted her mother for reading the diary, instead she used writing as a way to confront her. Only she wrote, "I hate her! She's the worst mother a person could have. She doesn't love me. She doesn't listen to me. She doesn't understand anything about me" (159). Ruth writes that message with the intention of her mother reading it. That passage in the book connects silence and writing because Ruth doesn't speak up about her anger at her mother and she writes about it instead as a way of communication.

Kiana said...

As many have said, I think silence and writing are both huge symbols in the text. In Part I, we find out Ruth doesn’t speak for a week each year and it started when she broke her arm as a child. Being silent allowed Ruth to feel loved and freedom from her mother’s scolding. Ruth was scared if she made a sound “all the good things that were happening might disappear” (80). Earlier in the book Ruth uses her silence as a way to feel free from having to help Art. They come home from the trip to Tahoe and they don’t have hot water. Ruth knew that “Art didn’t want to be gouged with emergency plumbing rates” but “without a voice, Ruth couldn’t argue, and she was glad” (11). In Part II, Precious Auntie can’t speak and is always silent but she and LuLing still are able to communicate.
LuLing gives Ruth stories of her life that although Ruth does not read them right away she does say she is going to make an effort to read them at the end of Part I. She finds the others LuLing has hidden in her house and Ruth says “tomorrow she would call Art in Hawaii and see if he could recommend someone who could translate” (168). “She [Ruth] wanted to be here, as her mother told her about her life, taking her through all the detours of the past, explaining the multiple meanings of Chinese words, how to translate her heart” (168-9). LuLing tells us in Part II that Precious Auntie wrote her life story for her and LuLing read it after she died. In both parts the stories are passed on through writing and both the mothers find writing Chinese important. In Part I, LuLing tries to get Ruth to learn to write Chinese and tries to enforce the importance of the strokes but Ruth can’t do it and gets frustrated with it. In Part II, Precious Auntie is teaching LuLing what the parts are for the symbol “heart”. Precious Auntie explains that each part represents something and it seems very logical. LuLing tried to present this same logic when teaching Ruth.

Kiana said...

Although I think Alice brings up another similarity between Part I and Part II, I don't think cats symbolize memory. I think memory and confusion are present in both parts but not symblized with cats. Both Great-Granny and LuLing had trouble with their memory. LuLing forgets Ruth's cat FuFu died and Great-Granny forgets her grandson Hu Sen had died.

Leah said...

I agree with many of my classmates, who have written about the symbolism of non-verbal communication in this story. I think Sam's idea about "ghostwriting" is spot on. As he says, Ruth is literally a "ghostwriter" (31); she works behind the scene, translating the authors's concepts into coherent books. (Art calls her a "book doctor"). Also, Sam points out how LuLing was a translater for Precious Auntie, taking the words that she could not speak and turning then into audible words that others could understand. I have another point to make on this subject; just as LuLing "translated" for Precious Auntie as a child, Ruth translates for LuLing. LuLing doesn't speak English very well, and needs Ruth to "tell her what people meant, to give her what they said from another angle" (70). Yet another example of "ghostwriting" is when Ruth writes in the sand, and her mother believes she is literally channeling the ghost of Precious Auntie.

I think ghosts themselves are a powerful symbol in this story. They are mentioned again and again. I think ghosts symbolize the secrets and the past of the characters in the story.

mason vogt said...

I agree with Tor in that a theme that is passed from part one too the second part is the idea of diaries, and recording whatever cant be said out loud onto paper. On page 156 Ruth "gave vent to these feelings[anger towards her mother] by writing them dow in a diary that Auntie Gal had given her for christmas." She could not tell her mother about anger and frustration towards her, as well as secrets about her own life, so she spilled into a diary. I think this passion for writing originated from her mother who is a highly respected calligraphist, and loves the chinese language. LuLing also writes her unspoken feelings in a piece she calls "Heart" in which she writes about things that Ruth had never heard, or didn't believe was true, such as Preciuos Auntie was LuLing's Mother. Writing for both Ruth and Luling constantly occurs in the book as a way to vent feelings.

Robin Smith said...

Silence is a big symbol throughout book one, from the beginning when it talks about Ruth's week of silence (9), and how Precious Auntie cannot talk (2), silence plays a big part in the story. To me silence represents secrets, and in the story so far there are a lot of unanswered questions that I think we will learn more about later on.

Writing is also a big theme throughout the book, and I agree with Tor that preserving oneself in a manuscript or diary has importance. Both of the characters have preserved themselves in writing in someway in the story, and both of these documents have been very important. Ruth's diary almost caused Luling to commit suicide, and Lulings manuscript will probably teach Ruth things that she never knew about her mother before. Writing is one of the few things that Ruth and Luling have in common with each other. Ruth has her ghostwriting, and Luling has her calligraphy.

Megan Pattison said...

I agree with Katie that silence was a theme in book one, and continues to be in what we have read of part two. Throughout book one, LuLing Talks about how Precious Auntie would speak with her hands because her mouth was burned shut. I think this goes along with the symbol of silence. Precious Auntie still is able to teach LuLing all sorts of things, and also is able to communicate with LuLing. They're communication, I think, is on a deeper level, and this is how LuLing truly knows Precious Auntie is her mother. Even though she doesn't remember certain details, I think that the bond between a mother and a daughter ins't easily forgotten and certainly recognizable.
Another theme throughout book one was love. Love comes in many different forms, as we see in the relationships of our characters. Ruth and LuLing are mother and daughter, but they have a very different relationship than the mother-daughter relationship that is portrayed in LuLings memories of Precious Auntie. "'I hate her! She's the worst mother a person could have. She doesn't love me" (159). I think that as a child, love means hugs and kisses, and anything deeper doesn't count. Children don't necessarily pick up on love that is more emotional , not physical. I think LuLing does love Ruth, very much, but it does not come in ways that Ruth can put her finger on and remember later. They are more of what is "between the lines."
Another example of love in book one is the love between Art and Ruth. Clearly Art fell in love with Ruth; we know this by the way Ruth described their story. I think this love still remains but has faded. The flame is slowly burning out and neither Ruth nor Art is doing anything to rekindle it.

mallory patton said...

I agree with Katie, in that silence is a symbol used in part 1 and part 2. I think Ruth uses the silence as power so she won't have to do certain things in her life. The silence allows her to not call her mother and to get out of paying for a new water heater. In part 2 silence is still a symbol because precious auntie is unable to speak at all times. Instead of giving precious auntie power though, it prevents her from speaking up. She has to communicate through her hands, in some ways this gives he rpower because no one truly knows what she is saying, only Lui Luing. I think silence is also represented through Ruth's career because she has to stay behind the scenes of a book but she contributes a lot to the book itself. In this sense though she is more like precious auntie because she is not allowed to be heard.

Burton said...

As many people above have said before, silence is a big symbol for secrets and as we have talked about in class secrets will be a big part of the story. Also many times in the book there are things that are not as they seem, and anything thats just a bit normal in Ruths life is hiding something. so in a sense anything normal is also a symbol for secrets because anything normal in Ruth's life is used to hide a secret. Lu Lings apartment has plenty of hiding spots all covered up by normal objects, and inside is everything from money for emergencies, to her past letters also holding secrets. "Ruth went to the vinyl chair, removed the cushion and the cutting board. Everything was still there: the small black Bible, the silk pouch, the apple-green-jade ring." (p 166). There is a perfect example of how a normal chair is actually hiding an expensive ring meant for Ruth. Finally the sand board used to talk to Lu Ling aunts is a symbol of hope for both Lu Ling and Ruth because for Lu Ling its a chance for forgiveness, and for Ruth its a chance to get what she wants from her mothr, and her mothers attention."You must move, Ruth wrote. Now. " (p 149). This is an example of Ruth getting what she wanted by writing in sand, and at that time it gave her hope of getting away from Lance.


I agree with katie that silence is a symbol for secrets especially when she proposed that Ruth's week of silence was there to hide secrets. Its obvious that in that week she tells the reader how she really feels about her mother, and how she wishes her mom would do this all the time. But she uses the silence to hide her thoughts, keeping them as secrets.

Daniel Alberta said...

Silence if definrtly a theme in Book one. Ruth has to go through a week of silence where she doesn't talk to anyone. She does this to to make her life easier. So she doesn't have to bother woth Lu-Ling. Also writing is another theme. In book one, Lu LIng really trys to teach Ruth how to write and Lu Ling has beutiful writing. In book two, The family are inkmakers, Ink is used to write, so the theme of writing is shown again.

Daniel Alberta said...

It says that I posted at 3:49 am. Don't know why it says that because I definetly didn't write this at 3:49 am also I agree with Katie that silece is a maajor theme.

Brendon said...

Silence is the number one symbol seen in part one. The main silence which Ruth utilizes every year as a monent of control is an obvious demonstration. Every year, Ruth looses her voice so that she can have power of the other people in her house. All of her friends and relatives to her biding while she is silent.
Silence is seen in part 2 because precious auntie is unable to talk at all times due to her past accident. This allows for a connection between precious auntie and Ruth.
an example form the text ."You must move, Ruth wrote. Now. " (p 149), this is an example of how Ruth can get her way while she is being silent. Power which she would not have if she was able to talk.

Chris W said...

Obviously, as just about everyone has said, silence is the key symbol. A good example would be on page 77 she injures herself, and from that point on she stays silent because she doesn't want to lose the good fortune. In part two, it continues, as precious auntie "talked with her hands inky hands." 185. So some of the silence is to keep secrets or to maintain good fortune, but some of it is restriction, oppression, and fear like Ruth's diary entries....

Daniel G said...

I agree with what almost everyone has said about silence and secrets. Silence is the main symbol in pretty much all aspects of part one. Obviously, it is apparent when Ruth is silent for a stretch of time each year. The strange thing is that no one really questions this, and that feeds into how all of the characters are a part of the silence, because they allow it and and let Ruth say nothing even when it may be important for her to speak up. It is also apparent in many other ways, some little and unimportant and others more important. On page 148, Ruth tells her mother through the sand tray that they should move, but never actually tells her what Lance did to her. Also, in the same chapter on page 135, Ruth tried to drown herself in the sink, and her mother didn't know what she was doing. No one ever found out that she tried to kill herself, and she never even told her mother about the fact that she had thought she was pregnant.

Part two starts right back up revealing some of the deeper secrets. There were many small secrets in part one, and a few bigger ones, but even just in the first chapter of part two some huge secrets are revealed, some of which LuLing didn't even know for a while, and Ruth most definitely didn't know. The biggest secret is that LuLing is the daughter of Precious Auntie. This had been mentioned earlier but now the whole story came out and Ruth knows for sure. So much more is going to be revealed in these letters to Ruth that LuLing never told her.

Nathaniel brown said...

In both part 1 and part 2 secrets, food, and silence are used as symbols. In part 2 precious Auntie and Lu Ling both have secrets. Precious Auntie doesn't tell Lu Ling that she is her mother, and Ruth keeps Precious Auntie in the dark about her future marriage. In part 1 Ruth doesn't tell Lui Ling about her conflict with Lance, or really anything about her life. Instead she writes in her journal and Lui Ling reads it. Lui Ling in return hasn't told Ruth about her past. In both part 1 and part 2 food and its importance in chinese culture is exemplified. In part 1 Ruth celebrates the new moon festival with a feast of Chinese delicacies. In Part 2 when Ruth's Family looses its store they feast before their money is taken away for damages. Silence is a symbol in both parts as well. Ruth is silent once a year, just like precious Auntie was always silent after her tar-eating incident.

Jeff said...

I would say that one symbol that is prevalent in part one is the maturing aspect of a teenager. While Ruth is an adult now, she has many flashbacks that occur and bring us back to her childhood. There is one thing that happened to her while they were neighbors to Lance. This should never happen to a child, but if it does happen it is a big factor in the maturing of a child. Also, Ruth's "stepchildren" are also in their teenage years. In the car, while traveling to the skating rink we are able to see this. Ruth is feeling as any normal mom does in during their children's adolescent years. Explaining what he usual start to the week was, she responds by saying that "chaos is the penance for leisure" (pg. 18). Also, while arguing with her daughters about breakfast, she says the word "dead", and Dory says that she "[hates] it when [you] say the word dead!" (Pg. 18). This is typical arguing between a mother and her daughters. It is going to play a bigger part in the realtionship between Ruth and LuLing.

lynda said...

I agree with Alex that writing is a very important part of the book. LuLing communicates with Precious Auntie through writing( p 149), and LuLing is sooo proud of her script. Ruth is also good with writing, as she is a ghost writer; both literally and spiritually. I feel that Ruth acts like a link, connecting old times with new.