Ties That Bind, Ties That Break
Ailin's life takes a different turn when she defies the traditions of upper class Chinese society by refusing to have her feet bound.
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Prologues are always important to read, and not skip over. The author uses the prologue to introduce readers to some of the important background of the characters and story. As we can tell from the final few sentences, the actual story begins many years earlier.
Both in the prologue and here when she talks about her amah, the author mentions the topic of having "bound feet". This traditional Chinese custom was once thought to be a symbol of high class status. Watch this video to hear a first hand account of how it was done. (This annotation contains a video)
As we begin reading this story, and gain background through its exposition, what important detail do we find out that will influence the rest of the plot?
Did you know that any time you are reading in Curriculet and come to a word you don't know, there is an easy way to get the definition? If you click and hold on the unknown word a box will pop up. Choose "define" and you will be able to see what the word means. Try using this tool with the word "enthralling" so you can better understand Ailin's reaction to Hanwei's explanation of the eclipse.
What can you tell is Ailin's point of view concerning education?
What parts of the conversation between Big Uncle and Ailin's father help us understand the current difficulties being faced by the Chinese citizens? Choose two quotes and explain what they tell us about the societal issues at that time.
Comparing Second Sister's deformed foot to a piece of folded over bread is a simile. Similes often help us get a better picture in our mind of what the author is describing. Watch this short video about similes and metaphors, and look for other examples as the story continues. (This annotation contains a video)
How does the maid's surprised reaction to the quiet marketplace and father's positive comments about "the rebels" impact Ailin's point of view concerning the revolution?
During the time of this story, China had an Emperor, a ruler who made all the decisions for the people. The rebels who were driving the revolution at the time wanted the country to be a republic, like America. Read this short article about what it means for a county to be a republic. (This annotation contains a link)
According to this description by Ailin, we can infer she is talking about
The Boxer Rebellion, the event that the family is discussing, was an important turning point in China's history. Watch this short video to learn more about the effects of the Boxer Rebellion, and why Grandmother is so upset about it. (This annotation contains a video)
This is what a rickshaw looks like. (This annotation contains an image)
How does Ailin's acceptance into the public school contribute to the development of the plot in this story?
Second Sister warns Ailin about being different, and the dangers that can cause. She uses the analogy of the colored silk worm cocoon that is immediately removed. Do you think Ailin is in danger because she is different than many of the Chinese girls back then? (This annotation contains an image)
Let's Review Chapters 1-4
Obviously, Ailin's father's health is failing. Given the details we've read about each member's family status and their thoughts about Ailin's education, how will the plot change if her father dies? Use evidence from the text to support your answer.
Confucius is a very important and influential person in Chinese history. Watch this short video about his life and beliefs to better understand why Ailin brings up his ideas about women. (This annotation contains a video)
"It is the law of nature that woman be held under the dominance of man."Consider the above quote by Confucius. What would the narrator's opinion of this quote be? If you were to rewrite the quote as Ailin, what would it say?
From the highlighted sentence we can infer that
Ailin's beliefs and self-esteem have changed as she has gone to school and had conversations with her friend, Xueyan. Watch this short video about the importance of character development in moving a story along. (This annotation contains a video)
How have the experiences of Ailin's male cousins and female sisters influenced her point of view?
Ailin's description of a modern house in town is humorous. It helps us realize how different her traditional Chinese culture is from that of the American missionaries who come to China. How do you think these differences will affect Ailin if she ends up working as an amah for the Warners?
When Ailin says, "I had to use all my ingenuity" to teach Billy, she means
The point of view shared by the houseboy and the maid in this dialogue gives us even greater understanding of the cultural beliefs that impact the plot of this story. How do you think Ailin, being as rebellious as she is, will deal with being treated like a servant?
Let's Review Chapters 5-8
Ailin obviously has a big dilemma on her hands. Authors often build in tension to keep the reader turning the pages. Watch this short video that gives advice to authors on how to build in tension. What part of the advice do you think our author is using in this part of the story? (This annotation contains a video)
What can we infer from the actions of the houseboy after Ailin goes to her room?
Irony is when the opposite of what you would expect to happen, happens. It is ironic that Ailin, whose tuition for school was supposedly too expensive for her Uncle to pay, can now pay for her brother's tuition. Did you smile, as Ailin must have inside, when she gave her uncle the money?
Describe how Ailin's self-worth and self-esteem have changed over the last three years. Use details and evidence from the story to support your answer.
How does this part of the story relate to what we read in the prologue?
Have you ever had beef tea? Click the link below to see how to make it. Do you think you'd ever try beef tea? (This annotation contains a link)
How does James's question change the mood of the story during this scene?
Picturing the fog as a wadded quilt lets us visualize how very thick it was. This is a good example of both imagery and simile.
What does the author mean by the following statement: "Ailin's life changed when she found Chinatown."
Ailin describes how good it feels to be admired, finally respected as someone who has done meaningful things. Think about the differences between love, affection, and admiration. Whom do you admire in your life?
Let's Review the Final Chapters