Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Primary sources and archival research are not the only ways to understand the historical context; novels with a historical setting, fictionalized accounts of “real events,” and novels written during historical events can give us insight into culture, society, and history. In this assignment, you will react to a modern novel set during the Qing dynasty (the late 1800s). While the events portrayed in the book are fictional, the novel touches on the social and cultural norms of Qing China, especially regarding women and public life.

In 2-3 pages, answer one of the following questions. You will use the novel as a source, but most importantly, this paper is about your reaction. It is YOUR opinion. If you would rather write about another topic, that is fine as long as you clear it with me. I encourage you to come up with your own topic—based on your observations and reading of the book. Keep in mind some of what we discussed regarding Qing China in class.

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1. How does Lily demonstrate the issues facing women in Snow Flower and the Secret Fan? What are some of the main problems or challenges that confront her, and what does this tell us about Qing China?

2. The novel focuses quite a bit on foot binding in China. Why was it done? What did the characters think about it over the course of the novel, and what were their justifications?

3. How do issues of class and status show up in the novel? Provide a couple of examples; what does it show us about the Qing dynasty?

Be sure to reference the book and QUOTE it, using an accepted citation format (MLA, APA, or Chicago); if you do not specifically directly reference the book, you cannot get higher than a C. If you do outside research, YOU MUST CITE IT. Be sure the paper is in 12-point Times New Roman font, 1-inch margins, and double-spaced.

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