Reading. Reviewing. Reacting.
Chapter by Chapter.
Read-Along of previous chapters can be found right over here.
Hey folks! It’s been a really long while since my last post on this read-along and gosh, all that time just upped and whooooosh-ed away σ(´し_｀〃)ゞ
Also, I probably—who am I kidding? I definitely pushed this post because I lost interest in it, ahahaha… I’ll be combining two chapters for this post today (and will perhaps continue to do so for the rest of the book) since it seems more feasible and faster. After all, the sooner we’re done with this book, the sooner I can get to the more interesting and good ones, no?
On towards Chapter Four!
“THAT NIGHT, I DREAM I am in a house with chrysanthemums carved on its walls, just like my stump. It’s beautiful and elaborate but completely impractical. As I admire this fanciful house, I am again unable to shake the feeling that something is beckoning me. It’s as though there’s a line running out of my chest, pulling me to someone else. It’s strange but at least the dream is quiet, giving me a welcome reprieve from the onslaught of noises that has tormented me all day.” (p,49)
Chrysanthemums in your dream. Much wow. I mentioned this in an earlier post but I’ll write it again: chrysanthemums are used offerings on altars in the Buddhist culture. White ones symbolize lamentation and grief and yellow ones are traditional funeral flowers. So since the color of the flowers aren’t mentioned, I can assume the worse and say ‘That’s so morbid of you, Fei.’ A house with death, lamentation and grief on the walls. Seriously.
Also, does anyone feel disoriented or something by the inconsistencies in Mead’s usage of contractions? Like in the quote above, she uses “I am” and “it’s” in the same paragraph (-᷅_-᷄๑)ゞ
Moving on, Fei wakes up, does her morning duties, worries about her sister but has no guts to go see said sister in person, complains about missing her sister but still doesn’t goes to see the sister, complains about being able to hear and questions why she’s the Special Snowflake, blah, blah, blah. Okay, that last part where she questions the world about her status as the “only miraculous recipient of hearing” sounds like a bunch of fillers to me.
“I back up to give them room and watch in horror as they lay Bao out on the ground. Someone signals for water, but another man shakes his head and signs, It’s too late. Bao’s eyes are closed, and there’s blood on his temple—new blood, different from yesterday’s wound. He isn’t moving.” (p.51)
Oh look, Bao’s dead. Am I the only who thinks this is going way too fast? Dude was only alive yesterday—I mean, I get that people die every day and it’s possible that someone you’ve met today can die tomorrow but this just seems too convenient in this book.
“…I’ve let out little cries of sorrow, though of course I had no idea what they sounded like.” (p.52)
Then, my friend, how are you able to describe them as “little cries of sorrow”?
Other than that, there’s so. much. repetition. man. why. I feel like the literary device is being abused by this point, like how many times must it be written that Fei had “no idea what they sounded like” and that she “didn’t know it until now” (p.52-53). Goodness gracious.
“Li Wei attempts to pull himself together and peers at those gather around. This shouldn’t have happened! he tells the crowd. He shouldn’t have been working down there, with his vision failing. Many of you knew it was. The foreman knew. But everyone pretended not to notice. How many more of you are like that? How many more of you are hiding your failing vision so that you can keep working?
No one answers that’s question, but one man at last bravely says, We have to work, or else we can’t eat.
Only because you allow it to be that way! Li Wei protests. You further the system by continuing to be a part of it! So long as you keep sending metals down the mountain without question., nothing will ever change.” (p.53)
Preach boy, preach! Your words have wisdom in them but your wisdom is unfortunately limited. You need to view the situation from all possible angles before making a move, if not, failure will have greater chances and more lives can be lost.
Also, this story is definitely moving fast. Just a few pages ago, Fei doesn’t understand why anybody would want to be able to hear sounds but the moment Li Wei loses himself in his grief, she is in awe and starts to understand “the power [sound can] have” (p.54). Definitely convenient plot point acting out over here.
More words and admiration for sound, and Fei trying to connect to Li Wei through their losses but wow, isn’t she insanely naive?
“I know his harsh words are born from grief, and I try to respond calmly. I’m saying I know what it’s like to be scared for your loved one in that way. To have your life turned upside down. You aren’t the only one going through this.” (p.56)
Zhang Jing going blind is a terrible thing but she’s still living in the Peacock Court. She has food and a roof over her head. She doesn’t have to work in the mines or beg for food! How is that counted as turning your life upside down, Fei? The both of your are still living in the same building. Dramatic much?
Moreover, does anyone feel like Li Wei’s grief over his father’s death is fleeting/feels insincere? There’s so much telling and so little showing, everything feels so flat…
“My hand still rests on his arm, and I am dizzyingly aware that there are only a few scant inches between us. I’m also suddenly reminded that no matter how often we held hands or dreamed of the future, we’ve never actually kissed.” (p.57)
WOW. ARE YOU SERIOUS? WTH? THE BOY’S DAD JUST DIED LIKE MOMENTS AGO AND YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT KISSING?! YOU DRY HO. I’M SO ASHAMED OF YOU. OMG.
That aside, Li Wei explains his ideas on how he’d change the situation in their village and suddenly a group of miners appear, which results in him leaving the scene. The end of Chapter Four. Yay.
And now, Chapter Five!
The story continues with time passing (it’s still the same day) and Fei believing that her world has been shook. Her perspective of things has changed (so shook!!) but she still misses her sister badly. Then, it’s time for Bao’s funeral and while Fei makes her way there with the others, she spots Zhang Jing. Cues guilt in Fei.
We also get to see Zhang Jing acting like the older sister again. A change in social status does a lot to a person, no?
*flips page* More guilt *looks at page 63* Bao’s funeral and Fei being in
infatuation love with Li Wei and Li Wei acting tough and *flips page* WHAT THE—YOU DRY HO, YOU BLOODY DRY HO. WHO THE HELL THINKS ABOUT HOW HANDSOME A GRIEVING PERSON IS DURING THAT PERSON’S FATHER’S FUNERAL?! SOMEONE HIT THIS SHALLOW GIRL WITH A HAMMER, SHE NEEDS SENSE KNOCKED (STRONGLY) INTO HER.
Grrrr, I’m so mad and even more ashamed of Fei right now. Like, can she not be a hormonal idiot for just a brief moment and be respectful? Is that too much to ask? Ugh.
“The priest bows before the memorial altar, which has already been set with the sacred lamp, two candles and five cups. His assistants bring forward incense, which he adds to the altar and lights with great ceremony. Soon the scent of sandalwood wafts to where I stand. The priest goes through the familiar signs and dances, and although I watch respectfully, my mind wanders.” (p.64)
In my twenty-one years, I’ve attended ten funerals. All were my relatives’, all were traditional Chinese funerals. I’ve been both the ‘outsider’ and the ‘insider’ which means I’ve both watched and participated in the rituals that take place during such funerals. I’m not an expert but the closest I’ve ever gone as a mourner who participated in those rituals, was when I had to lead one when my father died. I don’t know how it is from the monks’ (not ‘priest’ for God’s sake) perspective, but there is no ‘dance’. There is no singular altar, but two—one for the deceased (a worshiping table, we call) and one for idols—the Gods the Buddhists pray to.
Furthermore, “gongs” were rarely used in all of the funerals I’ve attended but all of them used cymbals for the music accompanying the prayers, chants and funeral rite. The offspring of the deceased (and sometimes, the offspring’s offspring) play parts during the chants, prayers and funeral rite as well. Additionally, the oldest son (or daughter if there is none) leads the ceremony. They are the first in line. Again, I’m not an expert but wow, my family must’ve been calling the wrong people all this time. I mean, there should’ve been a ‘dance’ or ‘sacred lamp’ in at least one of them ten funerals, no?
“…It is to scare evil spirits who might delay the deceased’s journey.” (p.65)
I’m so proud, Mead finally got something right about the Chinese culture *wipes tears*.
“When the funeral ends, Li Wei is surrounded by those wishing to offer condolences. A number of them are girls our age, and while they look legitimately sorry for his loss, part of me questions their motives” (p.66)
Like how I’m questioning yours 🙂 Li Wei is right to be suspicious of you, Fei, especially when you go up to him to offer your condolences after that moment where you tried to place Zhang Jing’s blindness on equal levels with his father’s and all that jazz. Tsk, tsk.
Moving on~ Fei goes straight to business and requests to follow Li Wei on his plans to leave the village by descending the mountain. Kudos to you for having some guts right now.
Unfortunately for Fei, Li Wei doesn’t believe her. HAHAHAHA. Sighs, of course this incredulity doesn’t last. Li Wei is nearly convinced by Fei but he goes for the classic ‘It’s too dangerous for you’ route and as expected, Fei protests, saying that she won’t be a burden. Following this is her proving to Li Wei that she can now hear and that she’d be an asset for his journey aaaaaaaaaaand…
“Perhaps…perhaps you might be useful on this trip after all.” (p.70)
Achievement Unlocked: Li Wei is now convinced!
Chapter Five has ended. You do not have enough stamina.
Recover stamina with an apple? [YES | NO]
I’ll recover my stamina the patient way this time ☆⌒（＊＾∇゜）v
Have you read this book already? What are your thoughts about it? I’d love to know!