Snow Flower

12 December 2016

In a relationship, never-ending devotion and faithfulness further deepens the impact of the bond, establishing a friendship that will last an eternity. In the novel, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See, the true bond of friends is shown through the relationship between the two main protagonists, Lily and Snow Flower. When they were younger and were starting their “footbinding days”, they learned of each other’s problems and coped with their hardships together.

As they grew older and got married, they experienced many difficulties trying to meet each other but still overcame them by writing to each other constantly. Even when one betrayed the other, the other always understood. Through their everlasting devotion to each other, these two girls formed a relationship that stayed true and loyal for their entire lives. In nineteenth-century China, when wives and daughters were foot-bound and lived in almost total seclusion, the women in one remote Hunan County developed their own secret code for communication called nu shu or “women’s writing”.

Snow Flower Essay Example

Some girls were paired with laotongs, “old sames,” in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives. They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs to communicate their feelings and emotions to each other. “Footbinding” became a social tradition for all women and showed their social status. Lily and Snow Flower were two laotongs who established their friendship at a young age. They get their foot bound on the same day at the same hour for two laotongs must be alike in every way.

Once they get their foot bound, they must never leave the “upstairs women’s chambers” where no man can enter. Through the painful ordeal of getting their foot bound, the two laotongs strengthened their friendship by understanding each other’s pain and suffering. Lily and Snow Flower become acquainted with each other’s lifestyle and they slowly learn about the differences within the two. While Lily is of average social class and wealth, Snow Flower is from an esteemed family whose grandfather was an imperial scholar for the Emperor.

Even with their social class differences, Lily and Snow Flower are not disturbed by it, marking a true loyalty to each other. When Lily and Snow Flower both got married, they found obstructions that hindered them from meeting one another. Since Lily married into the most respected family in a nearby village near her own natal home due to her perfect “lily feet”, and Snow Flower married into a distant village further away, arranging a rendezvous was hard especially since they had more important purposes to take care of when getting married.

One was to obey their mother-in-law and husband and give birth to many sons. Because Lily’s mother-in-law was very traditional and kept to all of the women’s rules, she was extremely strict when it came to Lily meeting Snow Flower. Even with all these hindrances, Lily and Snow Flower found ways to communicate with one another. They used “nu shu” and the paper fan that was first used when they met before becoming laotongs. By communicating this way, they expressed their inner most feelings on marriage and matters that seemed so trivial to them.

The fan is a symbol of their unwavering sign of true friendship for it showed everything that happened between the two girls from childhood to death. Throughout all the sufferings and joyous moments they had together, Lily and Snow Flower kept true to each other, telling each other everything they knew. But one problem arose when Lily discovered the true secret of Snow Flower’s once respected family. Snow Flower’s family which was very well revered by all those in the village suffered a staggering blow to the family’s honor when her father took to the “pipe”, meaning opium.

Slowly, the family name was destroyed due to the weakness of the father and they became in debt and were left with only their once prosperous house with no furniture. Gradually, all the people in her family left, leaving behind only her drug addicted father and helpless mother. Lily had no idea that Snow Flower was living in such state until the day arrived when Lily finally went to her house to help prepare Snow Flower for her wedding. Even when Snow Flower did not tell Lily the most important aspects of her life, Lily still accepted Snow Flower and even tried to understand her distress even more.

If loyalty marks true friendship, then what Lily and Snow Flower had between them was the mark of forgiving and understanding faithfulness that extended a lifetime. The novelist, Lisa See displays a relationship that was carried on throughout two girls’ footbinding days to as far as their marriage days. Through the blissful and cheerful times to their misery and pain, Lily and Snow Flower remained close as ever, exhibiting their mark of true friendship.

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