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Southwest Book Club Meets October 18

pearl _of_china.jpeg Join the Southwest Book Club this month to discuss Pearl of China by Anchee Min. A story based on the life of novelist Pearl S. Buck follows her as she grows up in late-nineteenth-century China; befriends Willow, a Chinese peasant girl; and with Willow shares life's joys and sorrows, despite the Communist revolution.

Anyone age 18 or older is welcome to attend. The book club meets monthly at the Southwest Branch Library.

For more information, please call 407.835.7323 or email southwest@ocls.info.
Discussion Questions
If you are unable to attend the meeting or you would like to join our discussion, you can share your thoughts or respond to the discussion questions below. Simply click "Comments" located at the bottom of this post. Join the discussion!

1. Pearl of China opens with a quotation from Pearl S. Buck: "I was never deceived by Chinese women, not even by the flower-like lovely girls. They are the strongest women in the world." Discuss how two strong-willed characters in Pearl of China, Willow and Madame Mao, display the fortitude that Buck describes. How are these two women's strengths similar and different? Who benefits--and who suffers--from these two women's powers?

2. Although Pearl is American, "beneath her skin, she was Chinese." (263) What Chinese qualities does Pearl exhibit in childhood and in adulthood? What American characteristics does she have? How is Pearl able to reconcile her Chinese heritage and her Western birth?

3. Compare the relationships Pearl and Willow have with their fathers. What troubles does each girl have with her father? How does the relationship between Pearl and Absalom change over the course of the novel, and what difficulties between them are never resolved?

4. 10. Discuss the theme of forgiveness in Pearl of China. When are Papa, Dick, and Bumpkin Emperor forgiven, and why? What friendships and values are strengthened through forgiveness? Which characters have difficulty forgiving others' transgressions, and why?

5. On her voyage to America, Willow pictures Pearl's American home: "I imagined the rooms filled with tasteful furniture and decorated with Western art. Pearl would have a library, for she had always been a lover of books. I also imagined that she would have a garden. She had inherited Carie's passion for nature. The garden would be filled with plants whose names I wouldn't know, but it would be beautiful." (261-62) What surprises does Willow discover when she finally sees Pearl's home and garden? How do Pearl's home, garden, and grave meet her expectations, and how do they defy her imagination?

6. If you have read The Good Earth, discuss similarities and differences between Buck's novel and Min's Pearl of China. How does each author portray the people, land, and troubles of rural China?

Discussion questions obtained from Litlovers

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