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Written by Aleksei Marchyn
The compound is like an unfamiliar planet. No one can say for sure what goes on behind “large solid wood gates painted black” for these gates protect secrets of the compound from curious eyes. The compound has its soul and with the gates opened it looks like “the fantastic beast”. There is no doubt that each residence has its own secrets. Although, the compound is the Kao’s family home, some of them call it “a narrow cage”. The compound could be of different states: “very still”, “alive and bustling” and “dark”. The compound could be even converted into “a weird and ancient temple”.
Dragon dance is a type of a dance which fascinates observers and takes one’s breath away. Uncle Ke-ting invites the rest of the family to enjoy the performance. When the dragon dance troupe enters the compound, everyone’s attention is glued to it. Courtesy of “the pounding beat of the drums and cymbals”, it is extremely easy to imagine how a huge and vicious dragon moves his large body. The narrator describes that “the dragon bounded after the ball, rolling on the ground, or wagging its tail or shaking its head as if in great satisfaction”. “From head to tail, the dragon consisted of nine sections” and each section is moved by professional dancers who risk their health in order to earn their money, performing a dangerous dance. People’s shouts, drums and music are not to the dragon’s liking. “The maddened dragon” rolls “desperately on the ground, trembling from head to tail”. While the audience enjoys the view, the dancers are “only flesh and blood”, because the maddened crowd forgets that their “flaming tubes” hurt not a genuine dragon, but real people.
For sake of beauty
Foot binding is an old custom. A woman with large feet should expect nothing but curious and judging gazes. That is the reason why Shu-chen, a cousin of Chio, allows her mother to bind her feet. She learns about “misfortunes of those with unbound feet” from her mother’s words and believes them. But a price which is paid for beauty is enormously high. Being only thirteen, she has to endure a lot. She-chen becomes “a target of brothers’ and sisters’ ridicule”. Physical pain is also enormous. “Whippings, a long period of excruciating pain” and “endless nights” without sleep are needed in order to turn normal feet into “a pair of such odd shaped things”. A girl “with such a pair of crippled feet, aching all the time” has to cope with her suffering in silence. “The crippled body” makes a girl weaker and deprives her of courage. “Traumatized feet” are understood as an indication of obedience.
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