The Jade Peony Imagery

The Jade Peony Imagery

Illness

Sek-lung was “eight” when his Grandmama died. “For days” she had refused to go to the hospital, insisting that it was “a cold, just a cold.” She gave “constant instructions” to her daughter-in-law and sister “on boiling of ginseng roots mixed with bitter extract.” At night, “between wracking coughs and deadly silences,” Grandmama had her back and chest “rubbed with heated camphor oil” and “sipped a bluish decoction of an herb called Peacock’s Tail.” When those methods failed to work, she began to arrange “the details of her will.” This imagery evokes a feeling of great sadness. It is clear that Grandmama understands that she is not going to recover.

Weak

Grandmama said that the only one cure “for old age” was “to die.” Sek-Lung’s father “wept to hear this.” Her “round face” looked “darker.” “The gentleness of her eyes, the thin, arching eyebrows” seemed “wary.” The boy brushed “the few strands of gray, brittle hair from her face.” She “managed to smile” at her favorite grandson. He spent almost all his time with her and “could not imagine” that they “would ever be parted.” Her voice “cracked” and “the sombre shadows of her room chilled” the boy. This imagery evokes a feeling of desperation and fear.

Tenderness

Grandmama’s hands were “magical.” Sek-Lung’s most “vivid memories” were of her hands. She had “long, elegant fingers, with impeccable nails, a skein of fine, barely-seen veins.” Those hands “were quick” when she taught him “simple tricks of juggling.” She learned them when she was “a village girl in Southern Canton.” “The troupe of actors” had stayed on her father’s farm. One of them, “tall and pale as the whiteness of petals,” fell in love with her. In her last years his image kept returning to her. This imagery evokes a feeling of tenderness, adoration and love. Sek-Lung is fond of his grandmother.

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