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vivico1
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SPOILER WARNING FOR END OF PART I PAGES 90 on

Lisa, when Peony is dying, I kind of felt the mixed feelings that she did about what her father was telling her. It was in one way a tender moment but also one where some things seemed to be said and others still left unsaid. And for as tender as it was, it also turned more to, tell my ancestors I am sorry and see if you can get them to send us sons cause they are mad and arent doing it! She didnt know why he would ask such a thing, cause at that moment she didnt get that he was saying goodbye, your dying. But it also seemed to me to turn from a tender moment of a father with his dying daughter, to one of, oh by the way, help us out here if you can cause your dying but i still need sons, can you check into it? Kinda gave me mixed feelings.

Then came the part where she understand what is happening and says "My family - following the custom for unmarried daughters - brought me outside to die". Lisa, why was this? Was it believed to bring bad luck to the household to have an unmarried daughter die IN it? And didnt I read where sometimes they would put female babies out to die too, if there were no sons and too many daughters? This reminds me of the Eskimos putting the baby out on the ice to die, if the first born was a girl, because they could not feed her, they needed the firstborn to be a boy, who could grow and fish and help provide for the rest. In a way, I can understand this in the harsh survival of the country the Eskimos lived in, it was for actual survival of the family to have a son first, and then they didnt do that with later girls. Was putting baby girls out to die an actual matter of survival for these Chinese? or was it about some supernatural believe something like what I am asking about putting an unmarried girl outside to die to not bring bad luck on the family?
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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kiakar
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



bentley wrote:


seagate wrote:
"a mother's love" That brings up an important qurstion in my mind. Peony's mother , I am sure, treated her as she did out of concern and love. It was the manner of parenting at that time. I wonder if that manner had a positive or negative influence in Peony's life.




Peony seemed more her father's daughter and pseudo son versus her mother's daughter. Baba and Peony seemed to be of the same mind; Peony though she was not a bad daughter experienced a quiet tension with her mother which created "mega-stress" for them both. I think that same kind of tension existed between Baba and Peony's mother and I wondered also about their relationship or lack of one.

A different mother might have had a different result with Peony. Peony and her mother were not on the same communication plane. They missed each other in terms of intent and understanding. When one was transmitting their inner thoughts and communication, the other was not receiving those transmissions. I was shocked how little Peony's mother knew and really understood what her daughter was all about.

I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.




Yes, it was the control that Peony's mom had on her that started the rage inside of Peony and caused her death I feel. Locking her in that room was very cruel, Peony had little control over herself but when that happened I think she realized she had zits of control over her own self. And why not end it......
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vivico1
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70


kiakar wrote:


bentley wrote:




Peony seemed more her father's daughter and pseudo son versus her mother's daughter. Baba and Peony seemed to be of the same mind; Peony though she was not a bad daughter experienced a quiet tension with her mother which created "mega-stress" for them both. I think that same kind of tension existed between Baba and Peony's mother and I wondered also about their relationship or lack of one.

A different mother might have had a different result with Peony. Peony and her mother were not on the same communication plane. They missed each other in terms of intent and understanding. When one was transmitting their inner thoughts and communication, the other was not receiving those transmissions. I was shocked how little Peony's mother knew and really understood what her daughter was all about.

I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.




Yes, it was the control that Peony's mom had on her that started the rage inside of Peony and caused her death I feel. Locking her in that room was very cruel, Peony had little control over herself but when that happened I think she realized she had zits of control over her own self. And why not end it......


I dont know guys that it was so much her mother's control that caused the stress between them and Peony's anorexia and death. I think her mother was exercising the control expected of her over Peony and probably about the norm. I do wonder, like I mentioned on another thread why nothing was done sooner to save her, but at the same time I dont think it was because of her mother's control being outside the norm at the time or something that was in some way harsher than what her father might do. After all, when all this happened, where was Baba till it was too late?? I had thought about how close Baba and Peony were and how he indulged her more which seemed to upset her mother terribly but at the same time, where was he while she was being disciplined this way if it wasnt because he agreed with it or it was customary?

Do you think maybe its possible, that there is more to Peony's mother than we are seeing at this point? I really get the feeling there is more behind her anger at Baba's indulgance of Peony, and what she may come to know than we are getting here. I think there was maybe even actual love between her and Baba at one time, from even the things he says (or doesnt) that something happened to.

I really can't blame Peony's mother alone here or even think it might be different with another mother because no one that was with Peony was doing anything different and for as much as it may seem she was closer to her father or that he was different with her as a girl than some fathers might be, he was not here either, he was not so different afterall. I blame it on both of them and maybe the culture. Thats why I ask on the other thread, and hope maybe Lisa can enlighten me some, why EVERYONE waited too long. But I think there is more to her mother to make her act the way she does, than we are seeing here. The control her mother exercises on her is not the killer, but what it represents and whats behind it, is.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Roles of Men and Women - Pgs. 57 & 58



Fozzie wrote:
I found myself questioning the roles of men and women in the society in which Peony was living, and how those roles might have been changing.

I noted these two quotes made by Peony's mystery man when they met:

"If we were married, we'd be companions. We'd go on excursions --- on the lake, on the river, to see the tidal bore." (pg. 57)

"I want a marriage of companions --- one of shared lives and shared poems," he murmured. "If we were husband and wife, we would collect books, read, and drink tea together." (pg. 58)

While I believe that these sentiments expressed by Ren are indeed how he felt, I can't help but wonder what their lives would really be like if they did marry, given their social positions within society.

Lisa, could you comment on the history of the society and what was or was not changing to make Ren's ideas possible or impossible?




During this thirty year period in China, some men wanted to have what was called a marriage of companions or a companionate marriage. Men wanted to know what women thought and felt. They wanted to do things with their wives and daughters, not just "to" them. The ideal marriage was just as Ren said -- to spend time collecting books and reading, drinking tea, and spending time together. It was a very advanced (modern) thought, and obviously something that only wealthier families could try to aspire to.
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LisaSee
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



seagate wrote:
"a mother's love" That brings up an important qurstion in my mind. Peony's mother , I am sure, treated her as she did out of concern and love. It was the manner of parenting at that time. I wonder if that manner had a positive or negative influence in Peony's life.




You're right up to a point. It was a manner of parenting and believing what was right or wrong for an unmarried girl to do. I don't want to give anything away, but Peony's mother has other reasons for what she does. They just aren't apparent yet.
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LisaSee
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



bentley wrote:


seagate wrote:
"a mother's love" That brings up an important qurstion in my mind. Peony's mother , I am sure, treated her as she did out of concern and love. It was the manner of parenting at that time. I wonder if that manner had a positive or negative influence in Peony's life.




Peony seemed more her father's daughter and pseudo son versus her mother's daughter. Baba and Peony seemed to be of the same mind; Peony though she was not a bad daughter experienced a quiet tension with her mother which created "mega-stress" for them both. I think that same kind of tension existed between Baba and Peony's mother and I wondered also about their relationship or lack of one.

A different mother might have had a different result with Peony. Peony and her mother were not on the same communication plane. They missed each other in terms of intent and understanding. When one was transmitting their inner thoughts and communication, the other was not receiving those transmissions. I was shocked how little Peony's mother knew and really understood what her daughter was all about.

I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.




Oh, I'm just biting my tongue over here. There's so much I want to say, but I can't yet. But I'm excited in the anticipation that we're going to get to come back to this later in the story.
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LisaSee
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Re: page 84 removing books



vivico1 wrote:
In this part of the book, when Peony is dying, really beyond help now, I thought about what a difference it might have made if her mother had visited her before now. I know her mother would have seen how she was looking and done something sooner. I dont understand either why those left to tend her didnt do something sooner or get her mother or father in there sooner. By the time the mother does come and gasp at what she sees and calls the doctor, it really is too late. She cant eat at this point. It made me think of WWII and what I read about a lot of the jewish prisoners who were liberated from the camps. It was incredibly sad the things they did to hold on and how hard they really did try and then something almost wrong in the heavens happen to them. So many were in this state of not being able to eat anymore, they would throw up what they tried, like Peony was doing. There is a point you get to, where your body cant handle just eating anymore and those people coming out of the camps were fed by troops so wanting to give them any and everything and gave them lots of food and it wound up killing many. We didnt understand then what we do now about the body and what happens and because they would eat and then keep throwing it all up, it emaciated them even faster, cause them to lose all hydration and they died from eating, after surviving so long starving. That is horrible irony! We know now that in this state, the body has to be given IVs and fluids before it can even attempt to digest food again.

They all waited too late with Peony, now the doctor is saying force her and its too late. Trying to anger her into it wont work now either and it just felt cruel when they started to burn her books thinking it would help. Their belief in "lovesickness" was only really a last ditch excuse for what is happening to these girls and why, so blame it on the books! Never blame it on their despair over there lot in life with no choices. Dont bring that up, cause you cant have girls or women thinking that, they may revolt against the lack of power in their lives, but this is what they are doing anyway and dying for it!
I wanted to scream at her mother, where were you when you maybe could have forced her to eat, even if it took taking her books then! Weeks earlier, Peony would have eaten to keep her books and her projects,now its too late and the burning of them is just cruel but is something to ease the minds of those around that it wasnt their actions or lack of, that let it get this far, it was those books that make girls lovesick! I was "heartsick" that they would do this now and I really think her mother loved her and was truly heartsick now too, but I really dont understand why no one did something that would have saved her earlier. Was it something in their culture that kept her mother out so long? or just at the time an angry mother who disciplined her daughter by shutting her up alone with just servants and really thought she was ok and eating?

I do like one thing Peony writes in the book at this point:
"When people are alive, they love. When people die, they keep loving. If love ends when a person dies, that is not real love." I believe that. pg 89




I just wrote something about this for a whole other project earlier this morning, so this subject of mothers sometimes not paying attention to what's happening to their children has been very much on my mind. How is it that some kids get into such trouble with drugs, become bulimic or anorexic, and the parents don't do anything? This happens all the time. Truly every day parents choose not to really "see" what's happening with their children. Could it be that to really see -- to really acknowledge -- what's right in front of them is to admit that something's desperately wrong?

One last note, what Peony wrote really comes from the belief that the emotions transcends death. It was very much at the heart of what Tang Xianzu was trying to say in his opera. And while I hesitate to get into another conversation about religion, I think this idea of emotions transcending death is interesting.
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LisaSee
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Re: SPOILER WARNING FOR END OF PART I PAGES 90 on



vivico1 wrote:
Lisa, when Peony is dying, I kind of felt the mixed feelings that she did about what her father was telling her. It was in one way a tender moment but also one where some things seemed to be said and others still left unsaid. And for as tender as it was, it also turned more to, tell my ancestors I am sorry and see if you can get them to send us sons cause they are mad and arent doing it! She didnt know why he would ask such a thing, cause at that moment she didnt get that he was saying goodbye, your dying. But it also seemed to me to turn from a tender moment of a father with his dying daughter, to one of, oh by the way, help us out here if you can cause your dying but i still need sons, can you check into it? Kinda gave me mixed feelings.

Then came the part where she understand what is happening and says "My family - following the custom for unmarried daughters - brought me outside to die". Lisa, why was this? Was it believed to bring bad luck to the household to have an unmarried daughter die IN it? And didnt I read where sometimes they would put female babies out to die too, if there were no sons and too many daughters? This reminds me of the Eskimos putting the baby out on the ice to die, if the first born was a girl, because they could not feed her, they needed the firstborn to be a boy, who could grow and fish and help provide for the rest. In a way, I can understand this in the harsh survival of the country the Eskimos lived in, it was for actual survival of the family to have a son first, and then they didnt do that with later girls. Was putting baby girls out to die an actual matter of survival for these Chinese? or was it about some supernatural believe something like what I am asking about putting an unmarried girl outside to die to not bring bad luck on the family?




I was doing research on Chinese burial when I came across the practice of putting unmarried girls outside to die. I was immensely shocked by this! But I also knew I had to use it.

Girls are raised by their natal families for their husband's families. In other words, from birth a girl belongs to her husband's family. It's that family that will eventually take care of her when she becomes an ancestor. It goes against every tradition for the natal family to care for a dead daughter, which is why everyone knows that these girls are bound to become hungry ghosts.
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vivico1
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Re: SPOILER WARNING FOR END OF PART I PAGES 90 on


LisaSee wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
Lisa, when Peony is dying, I kind of felt the mixed feelings that she did about what her father was telling her. It was in one way a tender moment but also one where some things seemed to be said and others still left unsaid. And for as tender as it was, it also turned more to, tell my ancestors I am sorry and see if you can get them to send us sons cause they are mad and arent doing it! She didnt know why he would ask such a thing, cause at that moment she didnt get that he was saying goodbye, your dying. But it also seemed to me to turn from a tender moment of a father with his dying daughter, to one of, oh by the way, help us out here if you can cause your dying but i still need sons, can you check into it? Kinda gave me mixed feelings.

Then came the part where she understand what is happening and says "My family - following the custom for unmarried daughters - brought me outside to die". Lisa, why was this? Was it believed to bring bad luck to the household to have an unmarried daughter die IN it? And didnt I read where sometimes they would put female babies out to die too, if there were no sons and too many daughters? This reminds me of the Eskimos putting the baby out on the ice to die, if the first born was a girl, because they could not feed her, they needed the firstborn to be a boy, who could grow and fish and help provide for the rest. In a way, I can understand this in the harsh survival of the country the Eskimos lived in, it was for actual survival of the family to have a son first, and then they didnt do that with later girls. Was putting baby girls out to die an actual matter of survival for these Chinese? or was it about some supernatural believe something like what I am asking about putting an unmarried girl outside to die to not bring bad luck on the family?




I was doing research on Chinese burial when I came across the practice of putting unmarried girls outside to die. I was immensely shocked by this! But I also knew I had to use it.

Girls are raised by their natal families for their husband's families. In other words, from birth a girl belongs to her husband's family. It's that family that will eventually take care of her when she becomes an ancestor. It goes against every tradition for the natal family to care for a dead daughter, which is why everyone knows that these girls are bound to become hungry ghosts.


See, I would have been doomed on both sides of the veil if i were living then LOL! Single, unable to bear children, EDUCATED, post grad hehe, can you imagine that then? and no one to tend to me after. Like I said, doomed to be a hungry ghost! Not a very great existence to entertain, in this life or the next! I think I would have shaved my head, bound my boobs, put on mens clothing, learned the sword and gone to war with the men in hopes of having some life here and maybe be honored enough in death to be FED and CLOTHED and have a resting place! :smileywink: Ok, so thats another novel of some sort lol but still glad I am here today, not there then hehe.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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purplepaigeturner
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Please use page spoiler warnings too

Back to the topic of mother love. In Snow Flower and the Secret Fan Lisa also writes of mother love. The Chinese character for 'mother love' has two parts, one meaning pain and the other meaning love. And this is what I see in Peony's mother's love. I often question the Peony's mother's love for Peony. And I wonder as a mother could I be that way towards my daughter. I have no idea what I would do given those times and that culture.And like Lisa I am biting my tongue on this topic.
Another subject Lisa writes beautifully is death. When Peony's father talks to her I am filling up with hope that he has saved her. How heartbreaking for him and for me, the reader that he was too late. And Peony's death scene is also heartbreaking and yet so lovely. As I was reading her dying thoughts I am saying no, no, this cannot be.
There is still a hundred pages left and those pages turned out to be a great story.
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Pat_T
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Re: page 84 removing books

This happens all the time. Truly every day parents choose not to really "see" what's happening with their children. Could it be that to really see -- to really acknowledge -- what's right in front of them is to admit that something's desperately wrong>

I think that not seeing, either by choice or inability, is a main theme of the book. After the opera, Peony chooses to close her eyes and not see her future husband so that she can hold on to her fantasy a little longer. When her mother sees her wet clothes, she locks her away and doesn't see her again for weeks. (We aren't told what her mother was feeling during this time.) Peony's indulgent father was away and Peony was left in the care of servants and relatives. I don't really blame her mother since Peony could have received much worse punishment for what she'd done. Her mother wanted her to stay out of trouble and work on perfecting the skills (sewing, music etc.) she would need as a wife. And Peony did what was expected of her, but the isolation also allowed her to sink deeper into her identification with the tragic heroine of the opera. When her mother saw her, she was surprised (which Peony misread as anger) and tried to help for her, but it was too late. This whole section raises so many questions: What if Peony had kept her eyes open and seen Ren? What if her mother had tried to talk to her? What if her father had been at home? Would any of these things made a difference?
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vivico1
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Re: page 84 removing books

Pat_T wrote:
What if Peony had kept her eyes open and seen Ren? Would any of these things made a difference?

_________________________________________________________________________________



well for one thing....you wouldnt have a book! :smileywink:
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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seagate
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Re: page 84 removing books

Interesting thinking along those lines-- "and they lived happily ever after" Would Peony's love have been as intense and as long lasting in real life?
Her imagination played such an important role in her romance. In death she could continue to "role play" in a different vein.
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Fozzie
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



seagate wrote:
"a mother's love" That brings up an important qurstion in my mind. Peony's mother , I am sure, treated her as she did out of concern and love. It was the manner of parenting at that time. I wonder if that manner had a positive or negative influence in Peony's life.



I found myself wondering the same thing. We readers have a very biased view of Peony's mother. I do feel that he mother's intentions were good, but I think that her mother had more of a negative influence on Peony. Isolating her in her room for so long ultimately killed her, I think.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



bentley wrote:


I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.



It doesn't sound harsh to me! I just said almost the same thing in reply to seagate's post.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Peony's Mother


LisaSee wrote:


bentley wrote:


I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.




Oh, I'm just biting my tongue over here. There's so much I want to say, but I can't yet. But I'm excited in the anticipation that we're going to get to come back to this later in the story.



Gosh, I have to get back to reading to find out about the mother now!
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART ONE (THRU PAGE 95)Please use page spoiler warnings too



purplepaigeturner wrote:
Another subject Lisa writes beautifully is death. When Peony's father talks to her I am filling up with hope that he has saved her. How heartbreaking for him and for me, the reader that he was too late. And Peony's death scene is also heartbreaking and yet so lovely. As I was reading her dying thoughts I am saying no, no, this cannot be.



I, too, was filled with hope, only to slowly realize that there was no hope --- Peony was dying. :-(
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: Not Seeing



Pat_T wrote:
I think that not seeing, either by choice or inability, is a main theme of the book.



This is a very interesting thought. I am going to watch for this theme in the next sections of reading.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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bentley
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70



Fozzie wrote:


bentley wrote:


I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.



It doesn't sound harsh to me! I just said almost the same thing in reply to seagate's post.





LOL..That is ok Fozzie..you know I think you are right.. I did try to give the mother the benefit of the doubt; for example maybe she did not know any better, cultural times, her own upbringing etc..but the outcome is the same. And I believe her concern might have been misguided love but I am still reading. I also do not want to let her father off of the hook either. So often everybody looks at the mother without looking at the father's role or not. So I am trying to not make that mistake..but so far the mother seems to me mighty harsh.
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vivico1
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Re: Peony and Willow, pages 67-70


bentley wrote:


Fozzie wrote:


bentley wrote:


I know this may sound harsh; but I think that her mother had a lot to do with Peony's anorexic bout and final outcome.



It doesn't sound harsh to me! I just said almost the same thing in reply to seagate's post.





LOL..That is ok Fozzie..you know I think you are right.. I did try to give the mother the benefit of the doubt; for example maybe she did not know any better, cultural times, her own upbringing etc..but the outcome is the same. And I believe her concern might have been misguided love but I am still reading. I also do not want to let her father off of the hook either. So often everybody looks at the mother without looking at the father's role or not. So I am trying to not make that mistake..but so far the mother seems to me mighty harsh.


Thank you Bentley!! In a couple of posts thats was what I was trying to say. First, sending a child to their room is not harsh and how was it really any different than Peony's life there anyway? The length of time she was in there, well you can't define harsh in someone else's culture by our own. The problem here was with what Peony was doing or NOT doing while in there! The problem was not a mean harsh mother who caused her daughters death! I read some of these post and I think, women, women, are you buying into this idea that what happens to the child is only upon the mother too??? Like I said, why weren't the ones taking care of her every need DOING something, SAYING something to her parents? And for that matter,why werent BOTH parents checking in on her and taking control of what was going on long before she reached this point? This is a girl, surrounded by people, who 'suggest" she eats, maybe gossip to each other but NO one does anything until its too late and shes a scarey looking mess! If you feel anything for Peony at this point, remember her mother came from the same culture and dont you feel SOMETHING has happened to her mother, that she is (not so much harsh for their culture) but less indulgent than the father, that there must be a reason we arent at yet? Plus, I got to tell ya, I had a father that was indulgent in many ways, not by today's standards but he was, but he never was the disciplinarian at all and the only time you heard him say something to you was if he thought it might upset my mother, who WAS very harsh. He liked to just play with kids and then get out of anything of substance that might be important to my growth, including real talks and discipline too. Did it make me or my sibling love my father more for being basically the older child who played with us and had the car? But ran if anything serious was happening or you needed him for? NO, there was no one around the man of his kids as an adult. I dont know that we hated him or didnt care about him, but when that is all a father has to offer, you outgrow him like you do other childhood friends. There is more going on here than a mother being harsh. All you have to do is look at the culture to know that, but I felt lots of little hints were being dropped that something else was wrong too and showed between her mother and father.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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