Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bound... feet or to a life of complexity?

Alright, I'm eleven chapters into this book, but that's only sixty two pages, and it's an easy read for the most part. The words are pretty plain and basic and some of the important symbols and metaphors are explained which takes away some fun, however there is still a lot to this book so far. There are some simliarities and some differences between this and the original Cinderella tale.

Xing Xing, a young girl, is left in the care of her stepmother after the death of her father and own mother. And, is forced to take care of her younger half/step-sister Wei Ping who needs constant tending to because of her bound feet. Now, there are already some similarities and differences between the Grimm verison and this one. There is a singular sister who shares a father with Xing Xing. They often get along and feel pity for one another, Xing Xing being, "hardly more than a slave" and Wei Ping experiencing pain from her bound feet. They form a bond when Xing Xing takes home a carp, who has some important significance, and a blind raccoon. This is all very different from the Grimm version, however something takes place that is very similar.

Wei Ping's feet were bound after the death of her and Xing Xing's father in order for Wei Ping to be married off to a better and well endowed man. One day the blind raccoon wakes up and smells the blood from Wei Ping's foot rags and attacks her foot out of hunger. She loses her big toe. Does this ring a bell? Well, it should. In the Grimm version each of the stepsisters cuts off a piece of their foot in order to have the slipper fit their big feet. Wei Ping is said to have big feet as well which is why she originally binds them and this presents an idea of altering physical appereance in order to gain something or be viewed differently, which brings to mind the recent unfortunate accident with Kayne West's mother. Mrs. West went to a well known and respected plastic surgeon wanting to get multiple procedures done at once. He refused saying it wouldn't be safe to conduct so many procedures without making sure her heart was in shape for it and he wouldn't perform such a risky thing. Mrs. West then went to another plastic surgeon who agreed to conducting the procedures and last Saturday she died of cardiac arrest. Changing or altering physical apperance to be viewed in a different light or to get something else out of it can only lead to a downward spiral.

The stepmother calls Xing Xing by Lazy one which is similar to Cinderella because she is also not called by her birth name. Also, the stepmother seems to be much worse than that of Cinderella's because of Xing Xing's mother's death wish that she would care for her father until the day he died. Which goes back to the idea of jealousy and that is what drives the stepmother to act in such a cruel manner towards Xing Xing who admits it herself that, "stepmother's jealousy of her grew in, until the end, the woman hardly looked at her without curling her lip" (26). However, unlike the Grimm version there is, at one point, in the story where stepmother accepts and is actually impressed by Xing Xing. When Xing Xing first brings home the carp and raccoon a smile on Wei Ping's face lights up for the first time since her bandages have been applied, and she finally has interest in something again, however once the raccoon bites off Wei Ping's toe the mood changes and Xing Xing is blamed for bringing evil into the house.

The idea of yin and yang is presented in chapter nine which I thought was interesting. Just as a review: yin is considered to be dark, cold, and stiff while yang is bright, hot, and flowlike and there would be no harmony if one existed without the other. Xing Xing refers to the raccoon as yin, having biten off a toe, and the carp as yang. Now, Xing Xing mentioned that she felt, "more affinity to the yang within her than to the yin, even though she was a girl..."(44). Now, at first I thought of the fall and Adam and Eve and how women are the bane of human existence, but then I remembered that they are not Christian or any form of it, but Kong Fu Zi which made me wonder if women are looked down upon because of religion or because that's just society. Anyway, Xing Xing is much more connected to her yang, however her stepmother is not, which makes me wonder why there isn't a sense of harmony in the house since they are polar opposites. However, Wei Ping's awful outlook probably has something to do with it.

That's it for now,




♥ Eschuk ♥ said...

Kudos for that catch of the toe similarity. I think the novel so far does has some similarities to the Grimm version which is interesting since it is written in a more somewhat modern manner. I love the creative characters like the blind raccoon, too. I think the business with the raccoon is that in some eastern cultures, raccoons have more significance.
This story seems like it has more seriousness to it.

DUH! nicole. said...

Lol, thanks I'll see if I find anything on raccoons in eastern cultures!