Yuan Chen. "The Story of Ying-ying". Reading questions.

  1. Note the description of Chang's character. The reader is supposed to form an initial opinion of Chang based on this description.
  2. Why hasn't Chang had a relation with a woman?
  3. Chang says he is a "true lover". Keep this in mind and decide if that's true by the end of the story.
  4. How did Chang and Ying-ying meet?
  5. What kind of an impression does Ying-ying make on Chang during their first meeting? Is this contrary to a statement that he makes to his friends earlier?
  6. When the maid suggests that he asks for Ying-ying's hand in marriage, what is Chang's reply?
  7. The maid suggests that Chang seduce Ying-ying with a poem? Can you provide a good definition of what it means to be seduced, and how can one be seduced with a poem? How else can someone be seduced?
  8. What is Ying-ying's reaction as she and Chang meet at her house? Can it be read two ways? How?
  9. Ying-ying tells Chang that he substitutes seduction for rape? How can the two be similar?
  10. What was the second meeting between the lovers like? Is it important who initiated it? Why? How might this eventually impact Chang's opinion of Ying-ying.
  11. Ying-ying's mother apparently knows what's going on and hopes that Chang would "regularize things"? What does that mean? Why is it important that he do so?
  12. How does Ying-ying's mood change when Chang returns from his first trip? She does not express her emotions in words. How do they communicate?
  13. Describe Ying-ying's mood and her reply when she finds out that Chang has to leave again (top of page 987).
  14. Read Ying-ying's letter to Chang carefully (pp. 987-988):
    1. As she reads Chang's letter, her heart is filled with "grief and joy," which are opposites. Describe that feeling.
    2. How does she describe her grief?
    3. How does she describe her joy?
    4. Is she hopeful they will be together, or is she not? Provide examples.
    5. When she mentions the first time they spent together in bed she did not repulse him. Why not?
    6. At the bottom of page 987 Ying-ying says, "When I offered myself in your bed, you treated me with the greatest kindness, and I supposed, in my innocence, that I could always depend on you. How could I have not foreseen that our encounter could not possibly lead to something definite, that having disgraced myself by coming to you, there was no further chance of serving you openly as a wife." Does that mean her fate was sealed from the beginning, she just was not aware of the ending at that moment?
    7. What does she wish for Chang?
    8. Comment on the letter as a good-bye letter from an abandoned lover.
  15. You are not responsible for the long poem on pp. 988-989.
  16. Comment on Chang's explanation for why he abandoned Ying-ying. I myself don't believe he is honest. There must be something more to it. What do you think?
  17. Comment on the two short poems on page 990.
  18. At the end of the story we read that Chang's contemporaries agreed that he had "done well to rectify his mistake". What was the mistake and how did he rectify it?