Non-Western Literature

Discussion Questions for Su Tong


These questions should be reviewed before reading the material, as well as after. Be prepared to answer these questions in class.
There is a very famous film made from "Raise the Red Lantern" that has won many awards and was nominated for best foreign language film at the Academy Awards in 1991. There are some significant differences between the two versions, although the basic plot is the same. This film is worth finding and watching.
  1. Show how the wives' names are used to tell us important things about their personalities. Explain any irony used in their names. You may have to look up what some of the names mean in the dictionary before answering.

  2. Explain, as best as you can, why Lotus, educated as she is, is in this situation. Why has she allowed herself to become a fourth wife?

  3. Part of this story is about how Lotus' initial responses to the other wives ends up changing as she gets to know them. Based on what happens in the story, which of these wives is really Lotus' worst enemy?

  4. How is the relationship among the wives reflected in their children? Explain as best as you can. The children aren't in the story much, but they are an integral part of the women's function as wives, and thus should reflect part of their world.

  5. Why does Lotus treat Swallow as badly as she does? Explain as best as you can based on what is in the story.

  6. Why does Feipu refuse to become Lotus' lover? He's clearly interested, so why does he refuse?