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Wrighty
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Re: The Cataclysm, Grandma and Grandfather, the truth


vivico1 wrote:
It was astounding to me what was expected of women, when the attack came. I can see protecting your children at the cost of your own life but save the husband at whatever cost and these men expected it???? When grandfather says to her,"My mouth wants to go on eating for a few more years. It is good of you to choose death, protect your chastity and save your husband and son." I wanted to scream with her. So ok all you married women, wanna speak up on this one? I am sure you are tired of a single woman ranting so tell me your thoughts on this and what would you have done? Why did she do it, when she despised him for it?



When I got to this part I was obviously shocked with the brutality. It was beyond horror. And then to add to that and have the men expect to have the women sacrifice themselves for them! What?? The stories in many cultures are about women and children first. The men naturally protect them. I know that the Chinese tradition is for the women to be almost insignificant but for it to be so...I can't even think of the best word I want to describe this. The Grandmother just gave up her life like it was her seat on a bus. And the men just accepted it! She wasn't even acknowledged as a hero. This incident blew me away!
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Wrighty
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)DUTY OF THE DOTTING


LisaSee wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

I just thought of something else too, maybe you can help me with this one. Its the question I have about Shao's motives for just hiding away the tablet and saying what she did about it. I thought it very cruel, crueler than anything anyone had done yet, considering she would definitely know the importance of it. I could find no motive for this as I said and don't see any more talk about it so far. Lisa, is it then, that since her natal family had no obligation to do this at all for an unmarried daughter, is it then that, its not that Shao has some cruel motive but just finds it bad for the mother to think about, when its not something seen as the family duty anyway? If that is so, I understand why she did it, but it still seems cruel, doesnt it? Maybe not that Shao is cruel for doing it, but that it being so easily dismissed is cruel in itself.




Shao isn't being cruel. She's trying to help the family by putting away the "ugly thing." In those days, even if an unmarried daughter was lucky enough to get her tablet dotted, then the tablet would still be hidden away -- in a back room or in a special temple. the problem with these special temples is that they were usually where the tablets of prostitutes were kept. So "good" families just hid the tablet, if they bothered to make one at all.




The funeral process is so very elaborate and the families have many duties to perform to help their loved ones through the many levels of the afterworld. We see what happens to Peony when her tablet isn't dotted. Wouldn't it be easy for other things to go wrong as well since they have so much to do?
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LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)DUTY OF THE DOTTING

Vivico, You're thought are always so interesting. But I also want to thank you for sharing a bit of your life with us. I think now we all ahve a better understanding of your views about many things, control especially. You're very brave.
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LisaSee
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Re: The Cataclysm, Grandma and Grandfather, the truth



Wrighty wrote:

vivico1 wrote:
It was astounding to me what was expected of women, when the attack came. I can see protecting your children at the cost of your own life but save the husband at whatever cost and these men expected it???? When grandfather says to her,"My mouth wants to go on eating for a few more years. It is good of you to choose death, protect your chastity and save your husband and son." I wanted to scream with her. So ok all you married women, wanna speak up on this one? I am sure you are tired of a single woman ranting so tell me your thoughts on this and what would you have done? Why did she do it, when she despised him for it?



When I got to this part I was obviously shocked with the brutality. It was beyond horror. And then to add to that and have the men expect to have the women sacrifice themselves for them! What?? The stories in many cultures are about women and children first. The men naturally protect them. I know that the Chinese tradition is for the women to be almost insignificant but for it to be so...I can't even think of the best word I want to describe this. The Grandmother just gave up her life like it was her seat on a bus. And the men just accepted it! She wasn't even acknowledged as a hero. This incident blew me away!




Here's a funny thing. When I was talking about this scene with my husband as I was writing it, he suggested that in our culture we're equally conditioned for men to "save the women and children first." Why should that be OK? Is it because we're women? Then, as we talked about it, my husband and I realized that if it came to having to save our kids, we'd be fighting each other over who would get to sacrafice themselves first. We were even laughing a bit about it. As in, we'd both get stuck in the door trying to outrace each other to be the first to die.
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LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)DUTY OF THE DOTTING



Wrighty wrote:

LisaSee wrote:


vivico1 wrote:

I just thought of something else too, maybe you can help me with this one. Its the question I have about Shao's motives for just hiding away the tablet and saying what she did about it. I thought it very cruel, crueler than anything anyone had done yet, considering she would definitely know the importance of it. I could find no motive for this as I said and don't see any more talk about it so far. Lisa, is it then, that since her natal family had no obligation to do this at all for an unmarried daughter, is it then that, its not that Shao has some cruel motive but just finds it bad for the mother to think about, when its not something seen as the family duty anyway? If that is so, I understand why she did it, but it still seems cruel, doesnt it? Maybe not that Shao is cruel for doing it, but that it being so easily dismissed is cruel in itself.




Shao isn't being cruel. She's trying to help the family by putting away the "ugly thing." In those days, even if an unmarried daughter was lucky enough to get her tablet dotted, then the tablet would still be hidden away -- in a back room or in a special temple. the problem with these special temples is that they were usually where the tablets of prostitutes were kept. So "good" families just hid the tablet, if they bothered to make one at all.




The funeral process is so very elaborate and the families have many duties to perform to help their loved ones through the many levels of the afterworld. We see what happens to Peony when her tablet isn't dotted. Wouldn't it be easy for other things to go wrong as well since they have so much to do?




Absolutely. What if you didn't put enough cakes in the cfin to feed the dogs on your way to the afterworld? What if the curatins weren't taken down and the dead person was forced to come back to earth as a fish. Many, many things could go wrong.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: The Cataclysm, Grandma and Grandfather, the truth


LisaSee wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
When grandfather says to her,"My mouth wants to go on eating for a few more years. It is good of you to choose death, protect your chastity and save your husband and son." I wanted to scream with her.




This is based on a true story. I read the account written by the man who said those immortal words. And boy, did they ever bother me. Of course, the women -- his wife and daughter-in-law in real life -- did exactly what he told them to do, because saving your husband and sons was the most important thing a woman could do. I thought how interesting it would be to write this true story from the women's point of view.



Wow! What more can I say?
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 TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)Blame

During our discussion of the first part of the book, we spent a lot of time talking about who to blame for Peony's death. I found it interesting to note Peony's thoughts on the matter:

"I blamed myself for my stubbornness in not eating and I grieved for the wedding we would not have,..." (pg. 102)
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: Underworld vs Afterworld



vivico1 wrote:
Part II, I find for many reasons very depressing. As it seems, so does Peony. I swear if she didnt have bad luck, she would have no luck at all! Everything seems to work against her, here and there. She says, many call it the underworld but she prefers afterworld. I see it as the underworld for way too many.

I want to ask you guys about one thing here if I may. Someone said to me, if all these girls were raised to believe these things about the afterworld and what it meant for a girl to die an unmarried woman, having no family to take care of here there, why the heck would she want to die for love to get there?? Hey, very valid question. Man I would be so afraid to die all the time if there was no hope for better in the afterworld. What do you guys think about this? Why such a rush to death if you were taught the fate of the unwed dead all your life?? Hardly makes sense does it. The unwed dead, now theres a phrase for ya!



Good question. Could it be that the lovesick maidens got caught up in romance to the exclusion of other rational thought? It seems that way. Also, Liniang from The Peony Pavillion was brought back to life thorugh true love. Maybe the lovesick maidens thought they would be too.
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 TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)



LisaSee wrote:


One thousand years ago, the poet Han Yun wrote, “All things not at peace will cry out.” What do you think he meant by that? And in what ways does this inspire Peony and the other women writers in the novel?



Peony and the other women who wanted to write about things in the outer realm could not be at peace with themselves while being forced to remain in the inner chamber and build their lives and work only around things of the inner chamber. Consequently, they cry out in the form of lovesickness and their writings. They would rather die than be forced to live a life that they did not feel they were meant to live.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Wordsmith
Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)



LisaSee wrote:
This is a question that will concern the whole book, but maybe we can start thinking about it here.

Often what we hate most about ourselves – our weight, our tendency toward selfishness, our vanity, etc. – is what we are most critical of in others. Trace the progress of Peony’s relationship with Tan Ze – through life together in the Chen Family Villa and in the afterlife. In what ways are they alike, and how are they dissimilar? Why do they need each other, and how do they serve one another? Do you have similar symbiotic relationships in your life, and in what ways would you expect those relationships to change in death?



Both girls come from well respected and wealthy families, so both have high expectations placed upon them. Tan Ze seemed to only want to be married to Ren to spite Peony. Of course, Peony was furious when she found out that Tan Ze had married Ren.

A very interesting relationship forms between them, but rather than symbiotic, where both depended on each other, I found it to be more parasitic, where Peony depended on Tan Ze. Frankly, I didn't approve of the way Peony manipulated Tan Ze at all. I think that Peony killed her.

In death, the women no longer interact because Tan Ze went to the Blood-Gathering Lake.

Those are my thoughts having read through Part Two.
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 TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)


LisaSee wrote:
And here's one more question:

How do Peony’s experiences as a living girl and then as a hungry ghost parallel Liniang’s experiences in “The Peony Pavilion”?



It seemed to me that Peony was trying to live her life as a ghost with the expectation that she would be brought back to life and reunited with Ren, like Liniang was brought back to life.

"...I comforted myself with the knowledge that Prefect Du had left for his appointment right after Liniang's death and had forgotten to dot her tabler too. With so many parallels between Liniang and me, surely I would also be brought back to life through true love." (pg. 116)

Rather than a self portrait, Peony tries to have Ren recognize her through her writing in the margins of The Peony Pavillion.

I know there are more parallels that are not coming to mind at the moment. I hope everyone will jump in with others.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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vivico1
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)


Fozzie wrote:



Both girls come from well respected and wealthy families, so both have high expectations placed upon them. Tan Ze seemed to only want to be married to Ren to spite Peony. Of course, Peony was furious when she found out that Tan Ze had married Ren.

A very interesting relationship forms between them, but rather than symbiotic, where both depended on each other, I found it to be more parasitic, where Peony depended on Tan Ze. Frankly, I didn't approve of the way Peony manipulated Tan Ze at all. I think that Peony killed her.

In death, the women no longer interact because Tan Ze went to the Blood-Gathering Lake.

Those are my thoughts having read through Part Two.


I agree with you Fozzie.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
Author
LisaSee
Posts: 139
Registered: ‎08-24-2007
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Re: Underworld vs Afterworld



Fozzie wrote:


vivico1 wrote:
Part II, I find for many reasons very depressing. As it seems, so does Peony. I swear if she didnt have bad luck, she would have no luck at all! Everything seems to work against her, here and there. She says, many call it the underworld but she prefers afterworld. I see it as the underworld for way too many.

I want to ask you guys about one thing here if I may. Someone said to me, if all these girls were raised to believe these things about the afterworld and what it meant for a girl to die an unmarried woman, having no family to take care of here there, why the heck would she want to die for love to get there?? Hey, very valid question. Man I would be so afraid to die all the time if there was no hope for better in the afterworld. What do you guys think about this? Why such a rush to death if you were taught the fate of the unwed dead all your life?? Hardly makes sense does it. The unwed dead, now theres a phrase for ya!



Good question. Could it be that the lovesick maidens got caught up in romance to the exclusion of other rational thought? It seems that way. Also, Liniang from The Peony Pavillion was brought back to life thorugh true love. Maybe the lovesick maidens thought they would be too.




Fozzie, you're exactly right. The lovesick maidens, who had no hope of ever recieving love or giving love in their lifetimes, thought that in death -- perhaps only in death -- would they be able to experience the one emotion that all of us want even today -- love.
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LisaSee
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)



Fozzie wrote:


LisaSee wrote:


One thousand years ago, the poet Han Yun wrote, “All things not at peace will cry out.” What do you think he meant by that? And in what ways does this inspire Peony and the other women writers in the novel?



Peony and the other women who wanted to write about things in the outer realm could not be at peace with themselves while being forced to remain in the inner chamber and build their lives and work only around things of the inner chamber. Consequently, they cry out in the form of lovesickness and their writings. They would rather die than be forced to live a life that they did not feel they were meant to live.




Laura (sorry for addressing you as Fozzie before),

Haven't we found this kind of crying out in many cultures at many different times? It takes different forms certainly. (I'm thinking of spirituals, quilt making with secret messages, and the secret drum playing that slaves did in this country. Or the Diany of Ann Frank. Ot the women in China who knew they were going to die and wrote their poems -- like a last cry out about who and what they were -- on the walls.) That need to be heard even in the worst circusmatnces is very profund.
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)


Fozzie wrote:


LisaSee wrote:


One thousand years ago, the poet Han Yun wrote, “All things not at peace will cry out.” What do you think he meant by that? And in what ways does this inspire Peony and the other women writers in the novel?



Peony and the other women who wanted to write about things in the outer realm could not be at peace with themselves while being forced to remain in the inner chamber and build their lives and work only around things of the inner chamber. Consequently, they cry out in the form of lovesickness and their writings. They would rather die than be forced to live a life that they did not feel they were meant to live.



I agree with what you're saying about the maidens but didn't Peony say that she didn't realize she was dying until the very end? She had to know subconciously what would happen to her if she didn't eat but I thought I remember her being surprised by her own death. She was misunderstanding her funeral preparations for her wedding preparations.
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Fozzie
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)



Wrighty wrote:

Fozzie wrote:


LisaSee wrote:


One thousand years ago, the poet Han Yun wrote, “All things not at peace will cry out.” What do you think he meant by that? And in what ways does this inspire Peony and the other women writers in the novel?



Peony and the other women who wanted to write about things in the outer realm could not be at peace with themselves while being forced to remain in the inner chamber and build their lives and work only around things of the inner chamber. Consequently, they cry out in the form of lovesickness and their writings. They would rather die than be forced to live a life that they did not feel they were meant to live.



I agree with what you're saying about the maidens but didn't Peony say that she didn't realize she was dying until the very end? She had to know subconciously what would happen to her if she didn't eat but I thought I remember her being surprised by her own death. She was misunderstanding her funeral preparations for her wedding preparations.



You are correct, but didn't the girls like Peony, who had heard of the lovesick maidens, know that the maidens died? I agree that Peony didn't realize she had gone so far as to be close to death, but knowing about the deaths of the lovesick maidens who existed prior to them did not deter girls like Peony.
Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
Posts: 1,762
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: DISCUSSIONS FOR PART TWO (PAGE 96 THRU 198)


Fozzie wrote:
You are correct, but didn't the girls like Peony, who had heard of the lovesick maidens, know that the maidens died? I agree that Peony didn't realize she had gone so far as to be close to death, but knowing about the deaths of the lovesick maidens who existed prior to them did not deter girls like Peony.



You're right, they were obsessed with it. I suppose when you are starving yourself you probably don't think clearly either.
Wordsmith
kiakar
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Re: The Cataclysm, Grandma and Grandfather, the truth



Wrighty wrote:

vivico1 wrote:
It was astounding to me what was expected of women, when the attack came. I can see protecting your children at the cost of your own life but save the husband at whatever cost and these men expected it???? When grandfather says to her,"My mouth wants to go on eating for a few more years. It is good of you to choose death, protect your chastity and save your husband and son." I wanted to scream with her. So ok all you married women, wanna speak up on this one? I am sure you are tired of a single woman ranting so tell me your thoughts on this and what would you have done? Why did she do it, when she despised him for it?



When I got to this part I was obviously shocked with the brutality. It was beyond horror. And then to add to that and have the men expect to have the women sacrifice themselves for them! What?? The stories in many cultures are about women and children first. The men naturally protect them. I know that the Chinese tradition is for the women to be almost insignificant but for it to be so...I can't even think of the best word I want to describe this. The Grandmother just gave up her life like it was her seat on a bus. And the men just accepted it! She wasn't even acknowledged as a hero. This incident blew me away!




But then, Wrighty, women were so insignicant that if the husband had died she would hae been sent away or sold or whatever. So what did a women, what choice did she have. eny meny miny mo. She just said this and went with the flow, whichever one came first I suppose.






S
Inspired Correspondent
Wrighty
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Re: The Cataclysm, Grandma and Grandfather, the truth


kiakar wrote:
But then, Wrighty, women were so insignicant that if the husband had died she would hae been sent away or sold or whatever. So what did a women, what choice did she have. eny meny miny mo. She just said this and went with the flow, whichever one came first I suppose.



You're right Kiakar, the mens' life had value and the womens' didn't. It was just a shock that it was taken so lightly and that it was the norm. Of course, these were arranged marriages so there probably wasn't much love between these couples. The men may have felt that they were only losing the equivalent of a servant.
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vivico1
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Re: The Cataclysm, Grandma and Grandfather, the truth


Wrighty wrote:

kiakar wrote:
But then, Wrighty, women were so insignicant that if the husband had died she would hae been sent away or sold or whatever. So what did a women, what choice did she have. eny meny miny mo. She just said this and went with the flow, whichever one came first I suppose.



You're right Kiakar, the mens' life had value and the womens' didn't. It was just a shock that it was taken so lightly and that it was the norm. Of course, these were arranged marriages so there probably wasn't much love between these couples. The men may have felt that they were only losing the equivalent of a servant.


But isnt it interesting that they had enough guilty feelings about it, or shame, that they (the men, grandfather and Baba) made up stories to cover it, rather than just saying, grandmother died the honorable death of protecting her husband as all good wives should do? If it was expected, why hide it then, except for shame.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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