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Sinclair Lit: Moon Opera & Poetry

Updated on March 2, 2015

Chapters 1-4

Why is Bingzhang afraid of Xiao Yanqiu? What kind of artist is she? What kind of wife and mother is she? What kind of person is she? Does she seem sympathetic or likable to you?

Bingzhang is afraid of Xiao Yanqiu because “She could seem as formless as water, giving the impression that she would meekly submit to oppression and abuse. But if you were careless enough to actually come against her, she would turn frost in the proverbial blink of an eye, and was capable of bringing things to a shattering conclusion through sudden and reckless actions”(Feiyu 18). Bingzhang is afraid of Xiao Yanqiu’s famous temper; he is afraid that if he upsets her she will bring the Moon Opera to a shattering conclusion.

Xiao Yanqiu is a Qingyi artist. She is a female actress who portrays a good and sympathetic character. The character she plays normally is quiet, gentle and graceful. Xiao Yanqiu represents the Chinese ideal of a beautiful woman on stage.

Xiao Yanqiu is a teacher at the drama academy, a wife, and a mother. As a wife she is standoffish. Xiao married Miangua because he was considerate, hardworking, steady, and cared about family. Xiao married because she decided that she wanted to marry herself off due to the incident with her understudy. I feel that Xiao cares about her husband, but I do not think she loves him as a person. I am uncertain about Xiao as a mother. The only time Xiao truly interacts with her daughter in chapters one through four is when she tells her daughter to go to bed. I do not find Xiao to be likeable or sympathetic. I feel that she is a selfish and greedy person. She threw hot water at her understudy because Li Xuefen was finally allowed to replace Xiao as the main role for a performance.

Works Cited

"Dan -- Femole Role." Travel Beijing. Travel Beijing, n.d. Web. 10 Oct. 2012. <>.

Chapters 5-8

Why does Xiao Yanqiu cry after her first performance with Chunlai? Why does the novel end the way it does? What do you think the "black holes" in the last sentence symbolize?

Xiao Yanqiu cries for many reasons. Her main reason for crying is embarrassment; she “croaked” while demonstrating a particular sequence for Chunlai. This caused her to cry because “Nothing is more embarrassing to someone who makes a living with her voice” (Feiyu 62). Xiao Yanqiu also cries out of jealousy towards Chunlai. Xiao Yanqiu hates herself for being jealous of her student and punishes herself for her jealousy by digging her fingernails into her thigh. Xiao Yanqiu cried because of embarrassment, jealousy, and pain.

The novel ends with Xiao Yanqiu being replaced as Chang’e by her Chunlai. Xiao Yanqiu feels that Chang’e is her real self and when the role Chang’e is taken from her, she is devastated. She has the makeup artist dress her up as Chang’e and goes outside the theater. Xiao Yanqiu performs the Erhuang aria outside the theater. The novel closes with people noticing that something was dripping from her pant legs. “The drops, black under the streetlight, fell on the snowy ground and created a series of black holes” (Feiyu 117). I believe that the mention of black holes symbolizes Xiao Yanqiu life. Xiao’s feels as if her whole life is being destroyed; that she is no longer has control just as anything sucked into a black hole has no control. Xiao Yanqiu lost both her role as Chang’e and her student, the two things that she was living for. I feel that the black holes could also symbolize death. I get the impression Xiao Yanqiu want to die.

A Mountain Nest

Choose whichever poem of the five you read that you think you liked or understood the best, and tell us in some detail what you enjoyed about it. Is there a particular image that resonated with you? Is there a line that spoke to you? Why did one image or one line make you choose that poem out of the five? Did the readings about Ito's life and Rumi's connection to the Sufi tradition help you understand the poems at all?

Out of the five poems I found Rumi’s A Mountain Nest the most likeable. I enjoyed the imagery that is displayed in A Mountain Nest. The poem does a good job of allowing you to almost see what is written. At one point Rumi writes, “Fire in your presence turns into a rosebush”. When I read this line, I could visualize the fire becoming a rose bush in the presence of the ocean. Of the five poems, the image of the ocean turning fire into a rosebush was the easiest to picture as I have seen rosebushes, oceans, and fires.

The reading "Rumi and the Tradition of Sufi Poetry" was helpful in understanding A Mountain Nest. "Rumi and the Tradition of Sufi Poetry" taught me that I had to look at the poem differently if I wanted to understand. I had to look at the poem more as a written picture than as a rhythmical story. The Sufi poem is meant to capture beautiful moments that make you stop and pay attention. "Rumi and the Tradition of Sufi Poetry" used the example of witnessing a beam of sunlight landing on a tree acting as a reminder that we exist in a much larger reality. The article compares this to how Sufi poetry captures similar moments. Sufi poetry is meant to inspire the reader to experience such moments so as to form a connection with “your deeper self and the larger reality in which we are all embedded”.

Did you like A Mountain's Nest

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If you read "Motion," what do all of these paired items represent? Whom is the poem's speaker addressing? Why is one of the poem's opening images repeated in the poem's final line? What does the title mean?

I think that the paired items in the poem “Motion” represent two different sides of life, a good side and a bad side. It is my opinion that Octavio Paz wanted the corresponding items to show the reader that there are always two sides to every person and to every story, a peaceful aspect and a violent aspect. I feel that Paz was attempting to convey that both sides exist in everything. I believe that Paz is addressing anyone who has ever felt that there is more than one side to themselves or someone they know. The poem’s opening image is repeated in its final line, “If you are the amber mare/I am the road of blood” (Paz 1) in order to stress that everything in life has two sides. The first and last line compares an amber mare to a road of blood, two complete opposites; one peaceful, one violent. The title signifies that life is moving and changing.

What did you think of Motion?

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    • misty103 profile image

      misty103 3 years ago

      Not yet, but check back I may write one soon.

    • profile image

      Sonny 3 years ago

      This was so helpful and easy! Do you have any arltices on rehab?

    • profile image

      Prue 3 years ago

      Such an imrpessive answer! You've beaten us all with that!

    • misty103 profile image

      misty103 3 years ago

      Thank You:)

    • profile image

      Lucinda 3 years ago

      It's always a pleasure to hear from someone with exseitrpe.