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LIST OF CHARACTERS
Jiang Weili (Winnie Louie)
Weili is the prime narrator in the novel. She tells her life story to her daughter, Pearl. Weili, who is the daughter of a wealthy man, is married to an arrogant pilot, Wen Fu and this marriage has disastrous consequences. Later, she separates from him and marries a translator, Jimmy Louie. Her life is a struggle against all odds. The challenges that she faces in her life, transforms her into a confident and self-reliant woman. Through her own story she wishes to convey the qualities of courage and optimistic thinking to her daughter, Pearl.
He is a pilot and Weili’s ex-husband. His arrogant conduct towards his wife Weili, is the main content of the novel. He has no manners and is a big bully. He has no love for his wife or his children. He is a selfish fellow whose life consists of gambling, womanizing and exploiting innocent lives.
Hulan (Helen Kwong)
She comes from a low social-class and gets married to Jiaguo, a first-class pilot. She and Weili become close friends, as both their husbands are pilots. She helps out in many instances when Weili is in trouble. They both start a flower shop in San Francisco.
The other characters in the novel are not really minor ones, in terms of their functions in developing the theme. For instance, the characters like Pearl and Jimmy do not have full-fledged roles to play but they are influential in developing the story line.
Pearl is Weili’s daughter and the wife of Phil. She is born and brought up in America. Pearl has two daughters-Tessa and Cleo.
The good-natured Chinese American, who is the second husband of Weili, works as a translator with the US information Service. He becomes a minister in the Church when Weili is in prison. Weili considers him to be the exact opposite of her cruel ex- husband, Wen Fu.
Jiang Huazheng (Peanut)
Weili’s cousin Peanut, is the daughter of Weili’s uncle and New Aunt. In her childhood days, she is pampered by everyone. She likes to dress up in bright colors. She turns into a rebel communist after the failure of her marriage.
Weili’s father, Jiang Sao-yen, is a wealthy trader who is renowned in Shanghai. Due to the political instability in China, he loses his goodwill in town and eventually becomes mentally disturbed and physically handicapped.
What Weili remembers very distinctly about her mother is her being referred to as "Double second." She is a beautiful lady and one of the wives of Jiang Sao-yen. Weili deeply loves her mother even though she disappeared from her life when she was only six years old.
The third wife of Jiang Sao-yen, San Ma plays an important role in the novel. She helps her husband decide that Weili should be sent to her uncle’s house to live, she looks after her ailing husband and even helps Weili with her shopping for dowry.
He is Weili’s uncle, the brother of Jiang Sao-yen. He lives in Tsungming Island and has two wives. He runs a factory that was given to him by Weili’s father. Weili’s father sends her to live in his house when she attends a Catholic boarding school in Shanghai.
Jiang’s first wife. She is a strict disciplinarian and is conservative in outlook.