Book Analysis



ShanghaiGirls (2009), by Lisa See

Thenovel by Lisa See captures the essence of Chinese people, both inChina and in the United States. The novel is about the culture aswell as the society. Some of the most important social and culturalaspects of the Chinese society in the novel include family systems,economic systems and marriage systems in the first mid 20thcentury. For example, the father to the two main actors in thenovel, Pearl and May is a relatively rich man and thus his daughtersare able to live a privileged life in Shanghai. However, this changeswhen he loses all his wealth in gambling. This reveals the linkagebetween social and cultural systems and the economic system, wheregirls are considered to be wealth. Thus, the father arranges marriagefor his daughters to pay some of his debts. Like many modern society,including my own society, the two girls are not willing to followtheir father’s order of travelling to the United States. In themodern society, young people chose their spouses. Some of thequestions that a reader is likely to ask him or herself are whetherthe Chinese culture allows fathers to use their daughters to paydebts. Another question that a reader would ask him or herself iswhether the allegiance to the immediate culture and society or thecountry carries more weight in an individual’s life. Afterdisobeying their father, the girls together with their mother arefaced with numerous challenges in China due to the impacts of theSecond World War. This can be viewed as a consequence of disobeyingtheir father. In the long run, they are forced to travel to theUnited States, although with a lot of struggles. The novel alsoemphasizes how social, cultural and political systems affect orinfluence each other. For example, the events in China had animplication on how Chinese in American were perceived. Additionally,the novel emphasizes the cultural and historic linkages between theAmericans and Chinese.


See,L. (2009). Shanghaigirls: a novel.New York: Random House.