The Story of the Stone (Dream of Red Chamber) readalong #storyofstonealong discussion

Book I (Chapter 1-26) > Week 3 Chapter 15-21

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Meonicorn (The Bookish Land) (meonicorn) | 44 comments Mod
This is where we discuss about chapter 15 to chapter 21 of the book :)

Meonicorn (The Bookish Land) (meonicorn) | 44 comments Mod
Hi friends!!! How’s your reading? I know it’s a lot but we have finished 3 weeks’ reading! Yay~ don’t worry if you are behind, read at your own pace and let me know if you are still enjoying the book :)

In this weeks’ book we have some highs and some lows happened in Jia’s family. I liked how they still have some tragedy happened in the family when they are having great happiness (???), it makes the book three dimensional and realistic. For example in chapter 16 they got the great news about Yuan-Chun but also things happened to Qin Zhong.

Also what do you think about Dai-yu and Bao-chai? People have lots of debates about them two. Some people like Bao-chai more because she’s more thoughtful, some people like Dai-yu more because she’s more sensitive (😂) and true to her feelings. I had a discussion about Dai-yu with one of my friends this week, I think she’s true to herself although she seems jealous of others a lot of times. My friend thinks she’s too sensitive to be understandable, but I think it’s because her parents passes away and she has nobody to reply on, so she rely on Bao-yu a lot.

In chapter 18, Bao-Chai reminded Bao-yu when he wrote poems, but Dai-yu wrote a poem for him herself, is another example of their personality’s difference.

Also last week we talked about Xi-Feng. I still have mixed feelings about her. For one I think she’s strong and smart, but also she seems drunk with her power. She helps people who she has no relationships with, but she also punish people who threatened her. I still find she’s a very interesting character.

And last but not least, what do you think about Bao-Yu?

Hope you all have a wonderful week! Let me know anything about your reading :D happy reading!!!

message 3: by John-Alan (new)

John-Alan | 3 comments I only just finished Chapter 16, but I'm hoping to read a bit more later tonight.

I really liked how Xi-Feng dealt with her unwanted suitor, but she was pretty horrible to the servants.

Overal I find it really interesting how open the book is about topics like sex (even homosexual sex), and women actually doing things (e.g. running the household), compared to the English literature from the same period I'm used to reading.

message 4: by Foxed (new)

Foxed  Folios (foxedfolios) Continuing to enjoy the read and getting a little bit more to grips with the epic cast!😂
My greater ambiguity as to Xi-feng’s true nature was further coloured early in Ch16 following the machinations designed to split up Jin-ge and her fiancé: “The maid and eke the money gone”, with Xi-Feng as “the only gainer”. Far from remorse at the two suicides, Xi-feng was “...emboldened by this taste of success...[and] undertook many more ventures of a similar nature...” Hmmm... And yet she is clearly a smart, resourceful and efficient individual, with her own burdens. So a complex and layered character indeed. I kind of like her because she’s doing what she needs to do for herself in a social/cultural environment that is hardly supportive of women’s advancement on their own terms.

message 5: by Foxed (new)

Foxed  Folios (foxedfolios) I’m also curious about the interactions between the servants and the family. For example, in Ch17 Jia Zheng’s pages ‘relieve’ Bao-Yu of all his trinkets and some of the maids are quite argumentative/ defiant in their dealing with ‘precious jade’. I understand that servants have often had ways to manage their masters and mistresses, but some of the incidents are quite open and explicit. Would this be a product of the youth of Bao-Yu and/or his desire to spend his time in the company of women? He seems to tolerate a much higher level of impertinence than I would have expected. Or maybe it just amuses him..?

Some random observations:

How crazy-big are the rooms and gardens constructed for the Imperial Concubine?!? The way they are described, they seem bigger/grander than the existing mansions!😂

Also, does ‘change her clothes’ as repeatedly referenced in Ch18 have some special /additional meaning, other than the literal one? I only ask because it’s always referenced in quotation marks.

Meonicorn (The Bookish Land) (meonicorn) | 44 comments Mod
FoxedFolios wrote: "I’m also curious about the interactions between the servants and the family. For example, in Ch17 Jia Zheng’s pages ‘relieve’ Bao-Yu of all his trinkets and some of the maids are quite argumentativ..."

I agree with your thoughts about Xi-Feng! A complex character indeed. When I was younger she impressed me with her productivity and organize ability, this round I see more of her faults when managing the big family, but on the other side the events she held were all properly done - all reminds me of the poem of her, especially the second sentence: "All praised her great ability" (Cahpter 5).

Also with your question about the maids and servants. Jia's family is famous for their kindness to maids and servants, so in general I think they treat maids and servants better. Also, there're some servants who have higher levels than others in the family - basically their levels goes with the person they served. But in your example in chapter 17, I think you are right, Jia Zheng's servants' behavior with Baoyu is a product of Baoyu's youth, but I don't think the behaviors have relationship with Baoyu's company of women. Speaking of Baoyu, I think in his idea, there's no differences between himself, his servants and his cousins. His servants basically can do anything they like ( and take care of him of course). Another example is in chapter 19, how Baoyu went to Aroma's home to visit her.

For the garden they built for the Imperial Concubine, it's huuuuuuge!!! I uploaded some pictures here:
Pictures of the GARDEN and MAGIC JADE, this is only part of the garden. Hope the pictures can give you an idea XD

I don't think "change her clothes" has a additional meaning besides "she has typical clothes for each different social situation so she needed to change clothes a lot" lol.

PS: sorry for the late reply, I couldn't access Goodreads on my laptop when I was at home, and the app was so hard to use and reply. Hope you are still enjoying the book! XD

message 7: by Sandra (last edited Nov 03, 2018 08:50AM) (new)

Sandra | 9 comments Hello all. Finally in week 3 and although I've tried looking at the family tree I couldn't see my answer so I thought it would be easier to ask here.
Is Xi-feng married to Jia Lian? I'm very confused by the scene in chapter 16 especially because of how she basically killed that guy that was interested in her. I don't understand why he would be interested if she was married.

I have mixed feelings about Xi-feng, she rules with an iron fist but I find it quite harsh, but honestly props to her. She has a system in place that clearly works for her.

Also why is Jia Zheng so mean to Bao-yu? And why is there such a great thing placed on naming things in this new garden or area they are building?

Meonicorn (The Bookish Land) (meonicorn) | 44 comments Mod
Sandra wrote: "Hello all. Finally in week 3 and although I've tried looking at the family tree I couldn't see my answer so I thought it would be easier to ask here.
Is Xi-feng married to Jia Lian? I'm very confu..."

Hi Sandra, Xi-feng is married to Jia Lian, she's not born in the Jia's, her family name is Wang, so her family is also from one of the four big families in Nanking. I believe the four big families were mentioned somewhere in the first 10 chapters. Her reason of being mad at Jia Rui was because Jia Rui knew she was married, but still wanted to have a relationship with her, it's not only forbidden, but also it shows that Jia Rui assumed Xi-feng was a easy girl who wants relationship with other man than her husband.

We discussed a little about Jia Zheng's feelings for Baoyu, let me know if you read it, and what's your thoughts after that :P

Also, naming things in the new garden is a great way to quiz Bao-yu's knowledge for Chinese poems and other literature. They don't name things from imagination, they name things based on poems and essays, and there're a lot of regulations in the poems that they need to care about. Jia Zheng was not always around, so he rarely have the chance to test Bao-yu, it's a great chance for him to see how Bao-yu's study goes. (and why he cares about Bao-yu's study that much was also discussed in week four's board).

Hope this answered some of your questions and let me know if you're still enjoying the book! XD

message 9: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 9 comments Meonicorn (The Bookish Land) wrote: "Sandra wrote: "Hello all. Finally in week 3 and although I've tried looking at the family tree I couldn't see my answer so I thought it would be easier to ask here.
Is Xi-feng married to Jia Lian?..."

Hello! Thank you so much for answering - I feel totally ignorant asking them but it really helps to have it explained to me by someone who knows the ins and outs of the book! I see about the new garden now, I found it so random haha but now this does make sense. I am still reading the book so when I get to week 4 I shall check this out :) I have actually posted a video up about my thoughts on YouTube, although this was before your answers!

message 10: by Sandra (new)

Sandra | 9 comments Hello, me again with one last question as I'm just on chapter 21. I'm curious as to what Bao-yu's hair looks like when it is described with the plaits looped round over his ears.

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