the story is told my An-Mei Hsu
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This story focuses on power — its use and abuse. Wu Tsing and the system that he represents have abused women for centuries. As a widow, An-mei's mother had no value at all, despite such traditional female assets as beauty and refinement. Notice that she does not even have a name, for she has no identity of her own. But she refuses to be defeated by the system. By killing herself, she effects a change in her daughter, giving her the power to rebel. She makes this stand clear to An-mei: "When the poison broke in her body, she whispered to me that she would rather kill her own weak spirit so she could give me a stronger one." An-mei seized power from her mother's sacrifice. By crushing the false pearls, she is announcing her independence. This action is echoed in the actions of the Chinese peasants at the end of the chapter. For thousands of years, they have been tormented by birds. Finally, they rise up and beat the birds back. "Enough of this suffering and silence!" they shout — and beat the birds to death.
In the same way, Tan suggests, women must rise up and beat back oppressive systems, especially male-dominated ones. An-mei's daughter, Rose, has been defeated by her marriage to Ted, but there is no need for such misery today, her mother says. Rose should stop pouring out her tears to the psychiatrist — just as An-mei should not have cried to the turtle. Such tears only feed someone else's joy. Instead, Rose should assert herself, as An-mei has done. As we know from the section entitled "Without Wood," Rose does indeed stand up to Ted. "You just can't pull me out of your life and throw me away," she says. She refuses to sign the divorce papers and move out of their home