Review Questions for Bound Feet and Western Dress


  1. Why is Chang Yu-i called "Quin Be Be"?
  2. What is the root cause of Natasha’s identity crisis?
  3. What did Hsu Chih-Mo introduce to Chinese poetry?

A Woman is Nothing

  1. Why is a woman considered "nothing" in China?
  2. At what age did Chang Yu-i marry?
  3. Why did people repay Baba’s medical services in trade and not in cash?
  4. What is the 1st lesson of filial piety?
  5. What is the 2nd?
  6. What was Baba’s ruling passion?
  7. Why does Chang Yu-i often feel she has had no life of her own?
  8. What happened the year that Chang Yu-i was born that gave her an impending crisis of identity of her own?

Lotus Petals:

  1. What is the meaning and significance of Pang-Mei?
  2. Why did Natasha not want to be Chinese?
  3. How did the tradition of bound feet begin? What exactly does it entail? What does it signify?
  4. How did Chang Yu-i escape the torture of having her feet bound?
  5. How did this handicap her in the eyes of others?

Fortune, Rank, Longevity, Happiness:

  1. How did Natasha’s amah Xu Ma come to be married?
  2. How did Xu Ma come to raise Peng-Mei’s father?
  3. How did the Chang family take the misfortune of becoming poor?
  4. What were the four classes of Chinese society and in what order were they established?
  5. What is the significance of the rice bowl?
  6. Why did Baba move his family from the Boashan family home?

Beautiful Country, Bright Nation:

  1. What is the legacy of the Changs? What is the different standard by which men and women are held to that legacy?
  2. How had the family lost their money after the move?
  3. What is the significance of calling the mother’s family "outside" relations?
  4. What, according to Confucius, is the role of Man? How does his observance of this reflect on his family?
  5. What has become the new standard of learning in China, as exemplified by Baba’s philosophy?
  6. Why was the old examination system abolished?
  7. Why would people have been sent to Japan to learn the ways of the West?
  8. What are the Three Bonds of Subordination and what do they signify?
  9. What are the Five Reverent Tiers?

A Girl’s Education:

  1. What is the difference between Natasha’s view of her Chinese heritage and the view of her parents?
  2. What is the difference between Natasha’s father’s advice concerning how to doeal with discrimination and her mother’s?
  3. Why was Yu-i’s betrothed out of birth order?
  4. What is a woman’s virtue?
  5. According to Yu-i, what motivated her desire for learning?
  6. Why were the teachers more lenient with 1st Sister than with Yu-i?
  7. Why had Yu-i advised against 1st Sister’s marriage?

Plum Blossom in Snow:

  1. Why does Natasha push the White man away in her dream?
  2. What is Natasha’s mother’s expectation of the best of both worlds?
  3. How do the backgrounds of Natasha’s mother and father differ?
  4. How did Natasha feel after breaking off her relationship with the non-Chinese?
  5. By what standard did 4th Brother choose Yu-i’s future husband?
  6. Why is the Chinese way of betrothal better than the Western, according to Yu-i?
  7. How does the fortuneteller determine that the match between Hsu Chih-mo and Yu-i is not suitable?
  8. What does she do to resolve this?
  9. What is significant about Yu-i’s dowry?
  10. What are Yu-i’s expectations of Hsu Chih-mo?
  11. What role does the Hsu family have in Xiashi?
  12. Why did Yu-i wear a pink wedding dress?
  13. What had changed in China in 1911?
  14. What characterized the wedding night that would play a significant role throughout the marriage?

Neither Three Nor Four:

  1. What are two worries that Natasha has concerning her future marriage?
  2. What are the two pieces of advice Yu-i’s mother gives her before her marriage?
  3. Why was Yu-i closer to Lao Taitai than she was to her husband?
  4. How has Hsu Chih-mo changed the nature of Chinese poetry?
  5. How did Lao Ye hold on to his money?
  6. Why does Yu-i believe her feet became her enemy?
  7. What does it mean, "neither three nor four"?
  8. Why was it tradition to conceal the gender of the child from the gods?

According to Your Wishes:

  1. Why would Hsu Chih-mo desire to stimulate national shame?
  2. What is Yu-i’s role as mother to her child?
  3. What was the significance of the tray which held the tailor’s ruler, the small abacus, the calligraphy brush, and the coins?
  4. What is the significance of Shandong’s being given to Japan after World War I?
  5. What are the three choices for a divorced woman?
  6. What set Hsu Chih-mo apart from the others in the crowd when Yu-i’s boat docked?
  7. How does Yu-i fit in with Hsu Chih-mo’s friends?
  8. What is the realization Yu-i has of the change in Hsu Chih-mo?
  9. What are the two reasons a man takes a concubine?

Bound Feet and Western Dress:

  1. What reaction does Natasha have to being told she’s no longer Chinese? On what do you think that decision was based?
  2. What does Natasha describe as her problem with her peer groups?
  3. Why does Yu-i not approach her husband with her feelings?
  4. What command does Hsu Chih-mo give Yu-i on learning of her second pregnancy?
  5. Why does Yu-i begin to question his authority after this?
  6. Why does Yu-i decide to have the abortion?
  7. What is Yu-i’s consolation when faced with the prospect of meeting Hsu Chih-mo’s concubine?
  8. What confounds Yu-i upon meeting Miss Ming?
  9. Why does Hsu Chih-mo ask for a divorce?
  10. What is an "autumn fan"? How is it significant to Yu-i?
  11. Why doesn’t Yu-i commit suicide?
  12. Where does Yu-i turn when Hsu Chih-mo abandons her?

A Better Wife:

  1. Why is Natasha scared of marriage?
  2. Why is Yu-i nervous about going back to China after her divorce?
  3. What are the "Seven Outs" for a wife?
  4. Why does Yu-i move to the countryside after her fourth month of pregnancy?
  5. Why does Yu-i become "comfortable" with the idea of the divorce? Why does she decide to stay in Europe?
  6. Why does Yu-i follow Seventh Brother to Germany?
  7. Why did Yu-i cry when she learned the gender of her child?
  8. Why was Hsu Chih-mo in such a rush to procure the divorce?
  9. What is the irony in Hsu Chih-mo marveling over his child?

O Poet!:

  1. What does Yu-i decide to study in Berlin?
  2. What is the difference between the Confucian method and the Pestalozzi?
  3. Why did Yu-i and Dora always call Bide by the German name of Peter?
  4. Why hadn’t Nora ever married?
  5. What is happening to Peter, culturally, as he grows older?
  6. Why doesn’t Yu-i spend much time with the Chinese community in Berlin?
  7. What two reasons prevent Yu-i from pursuing the relationship with Lu Jiaren?
  8. Why is Lao Taitai insistent that Yu-i return?
  9. What is the impact of Peter’s death on the family?

Sentimental Journey:

  1. Why wouldn’t Lin Huiyin have married Hsu Chih-mo? Why is this significant?
  2. What were Lu Xaioman’s greatest attributes?
  3. What is the significance of a ‘sentimental journey’?
  4. What facilitated Yu-i’s move back to China?
  5. What changes does Yu-i notice have taken place in China in her absence?
  6. Why did Lao Taitai and Lao Ye leave Xiashi?
  7. What’s the difference between funeral arrangements in the West and those in the East?

A Person’s Title:

  1. How did Liang Qichao shock the guests at Hsu Chih-mo’s wedding?
  2. Why does Fourth Brother insist on relinquishing the lease on the family house after Mama and Baba’s death?
  3. What is Mama’s ghost’s reaction to this?
  4. How does Yu-i become vice-president of the Shanghai Women’s Savings Bank?
  5. What kind of jewelry did women store at the bank?
  6. What is remarkable about Yu-i’s schedule?
  7. What is the importance of a person’s title?
  8. How was Lu Xaioman’s divorce different from Yu-i’s?
  9. What causes the Lao’s to want to leave Hsu Chih-mo’s house?
  10. How did Lu Xaioman become addicted to opium?
  11. What role does Yu-i end up playing between her in-laws and her ex?
  12. Under what condition does Yu-i come to take care of Lao Taitai on her deathbed?
  13. What role does she take at the funeral?

The End of My Story:

  1. Why did Yu-i’s interpretation of the divorce trouble Natasha?
  2. What does Natasha notice about the geography of Shanghai?
  3. Why did Yu-i lose faith in the love she had supposed Hsu Chih-mo and Lu Xaioman to have?
  4. How does Yu-i break the news to Lao Ye?
  5. What does Lu Xaioman want to do with her husband’s corpse? Why does Yu-i object?
  6. What is love, according to Yu-i?
  7. Why does Yu-i continue supporting Lu Xiaoman even after Lao Ye’s death?
  8. Why does Yu-i thank Hsu Chih-mo for the divorce?
  9. Why did Yu-i leave Shanghai?
  10. Why does Yu-i consult her son before agreeing to marry Dr. Su?
  11. Why does Yu-i say that she, perhaps, loved Hsu Chih-mo more than his other women loved him?

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