Chinese Cinderella Essay

3575 Words Apr 1st, 2011 15 Pages
T a h r ’N t s eces oe


Chinese Cinderella
Adeline Yen Mah
This book is the moving autobiography of a young Chinese girl, Adeline Yen Mah. Born the fifth child to an affluent Chinese family her life begins tragically. Adeline’s mother died shortly after her birth due to complications bought on by the delivery, and in Chinese culture this marks her as cursed or ‘bad luck’ (p.3). This situation is compounded by her father’s new marriage to a lady who has little affection for her husband’s five children. She displayed overt antagonism and distrust towards all of the children, particularly Adeline, whilst favoring her own younger son and daughter born soon after the marriage. The book outlines Adeline’s
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• Does a series of vignettes really enable us to come to a true understanding of what the life lived was like? • Why, when we reconsider our lives, do certain scenes come to mind whilst others defy recall of any kind? • To what extent do the early years of one’s life shape the person that we become?

Autobiography and biography are very popular genres. They are both windows into the lives of others. For some readers these genre cater to the voyeuristic urge to view someone else’s life, perhaps to allow comparison with our own existence or history. • When reading such a story, do you compare the life to your own? • Can you imagine writing about your own life? • How easy do you think it is to write honestly about experiences that have affected you, or are all views subjective in the final analysis? Consider the following quotations in the light of Adeline Yen Mah’s story and your own views on the writing of life stories: ‘Autobiography is probably the most respectable form of lying.’ Humphrey Carpenter, 1982 ‘Autobiography begins with a sense of being alone. It is an orphan form.’ John Berger, 1992

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‘Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something truly disgraceful.’

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