Reading Guide Questions
Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
Lily endures excruciating pain in order to have her feet bound. What
reasons are given for this dangerous practice?
Did See's descriptions of footbinding remind you of any Western
If some men in 19th-century China knew about nu shu and "old same"
friendships, why do you think they allowed these traditions to persist?
Reflecting on her first few decades, Lily seems to think her friendship
with Snow Flower brought her more good than harm. Do you agree?
Lily's adherence to social customs can seem controversial to us today.
Pick a scene where you would have acted differently. Why?
Lily defies the wishes of her son in order to pair her grandson with
Peony. Does she fully justify her behavior?
Lily sometimes pulls us out of the present moment to reflect--as an old
woman--on her youthful decisions. What does this device add to the story?
How would you film these moments of reflection?
If Lily is writing her story to Snow Flower in the afterworld, what do you
think Snow Flower's response would or should be?
Did you recognize any aspects of your own friendships in the bond between
Lily and Snow Flower?
Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Random House.
Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.