Incule how to teach and what questions should I ask them, and what activities should I created and so on
We hope that these questions will inspire your reading group to explore
new and interesting topics for discussing The Jade Peony. This
guide is also available on-line at www.douglas-mcintyre.com.
1. The Jade Peony refers to historical events such as the Chinese Exclusion
Act of 1923, the Depression and the Second World War. How
do these events a¤ect the private lives of the characters?
2. In Part One, Jook-Liang is fascinated by Wong Suk because he reminds
her of the Monkey King in Chinese legends as well as Tarzan’s
Cheetah.What do the links between these stories from East and
West suggest about Jook-Liang’s identity and growing up in a bicultural
3. Grandmother (Poh-Poh) reminds Jook-Liang repeatedly that a girlchild
is mo yung, or useless. How does this kind of traditional Chinese
thinking a¤ect the young girl? How is she able to resist this
4. Storytelling is an important way of transmitting cultural heritage
while entertaining the young. Examine moments in the novel where
myths and stories are told.What are their e¤ects on the children?
5. Poh-Poh remarks that Jung-Sum is “di¤erent” and that he is “the
moon.” In Part Two, what are some ways in which issues of gender
identity and masculinity are questioned or raised? What are the implications
of being “di¤erent”?
6. Early Chinese immigrants to Canada were men who came as labourers,
mostly by themselves without wives or children.What is the impact
of a predominantly male community on the early immigrants’
sense of home and belonging?
a reading group guide
for The Jade Peony by Wayson Choy
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7. Wong Suk has a birth certiﬁcate that states that he is seventy-ﬁve, and
another document that makes him seventy.What is the signiﬁcance
of these documents, of references to “paper years” and “paper sons”?
8. “Nothing much happens” in The Jade Peony, some readers say.
Wayson Choy, like a number of contemporary Canadian authors
such as Carol Shields and Alice Munro, focusses on the quotidian
and the trivial. What is revealed about the lives of the characters
through seemingly small, insigniﬁcant details?
9. In Part Three,what is the e¤ect of telling the “Romeo and Juliet” love
story between Meiying and Kazuo through the eyes of a child?
10. In Chinese culture, as in many Native communities, the elders in the
family are revered and respected for their wisdom.What is the function
of Poh-Poh or Grandmother in the three sections of the novel?
11. Sek-Lung thinks, “But even if I was born in Vancouver, even if I
should salute the Union Jack a hundred million times, even if I had
the cleanest hands in all the Dominion of Canada and prayed forever,
I would still be Chinese.” What are some of the pressures of
being a racial other at the time the novel took place? Are there di¤erences
in the way children of immigrants see themselves today as opposed
to ﬁfty years ago?
12. In Part Two, Jung-Sum says,“Grandmother told that story, and then
another, each story brief and sad and marvellous. There were seven
pieces of jade, carved in the shape of ancient symbols. The one she
held most dear, we knew, was a coin-sized one, an exquisitely carved
peony of translucent white and pinkish jade; its petals were outlined
in a simple, carved relief against a perfect round of stone.” In the light
of this quotation, discuss the signiﬁcance of “the jade peony” as the
title of the novel.
Questions compiled by Eleanor Ty, Professor and Chair, Department
of English and Film Studies,Wilfrid Laurier University
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